carbon, definition of

Carbon

Climate Science is the study of the behaviour of the climate using scientific techniques to discover provable processes and actions within the climate and hence be able to:

  • predict with a degree of accuracy future changes in the climate,
  • advise on how to interact with the climate
Climate Science, although primarily the study of the environment also depends a lot on mathematic and statistical processes to understand the climate - as we can only observe the climate using very sparse measurements.

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Carbon Accounting

Umbrella term referring to the act of measuring and reporting on an organization's greenhouse gas emissions.

Carbon accounting procedures typically aim to measure and report on the emissions that a company is directly responsible for, but they can also track emissions that result from a firm's supply chain and the activities of its partners, customers and staff.

The practice is widely regarded as an essential first step towards cutting carbon emissions.

However, critics have argued that its effectiveness is undermined by an absence of international standards, which means that carbon calculations can be undertaken differently from organization to organization.

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Carbon Based Lifeform

This is a form of life which uses carbon as a 'building block' in its cells and chemical processes. Basically all life (be it plant or animal) on Earth is 'carbon based' in one form or another.

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Carbon Black

An amorphous form of carbon, produced commercially by thermal or oxidative decomposition of hydrocarbons and used principally in rubber goods, pigments, and printer's ink.

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Carbon Capture And Storage

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is an approach to mitigating global warming based on capturing carbon dioxide from large point sources such as fossil fuel power plants and permanently storing it away from the atmosphere.

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Carbon Credit

A carbon credit is a market-driven way of reducing the impact of greenhouse gas emissions; it allows an agent to benefit financially from an emission reduction. There are two forms of carbon credit, those that are part of national and international trade and those that are purchased by individuals.


Carbon Credits have a rather mixed history, as given the nature of the 'arms length' relationship between the producer of the carbon credit and the consumer of the credit; it's often difficult to ensure a consistent 'carbon value' to a given credit as there is no globally unified method of certification and validation of what exactly is a carbon credit. Further political interference in the market to encourage take up of carbon reducing technologies (like Solar Panels) can devalue credits in market - making it less attractive to trade with. Also carbon credits can be held 'off market' so artificially controlling supply. 

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Carbon Cycle

Climate Science is the study of the behaviour of the climate using scientific techniques to discover provable processes and actions within the climate and hence be able to:

  • predict with a degree of accuracy future changes in the climate,
  • advise on how to interact with the climate
Climate Science, although primarily the study of the environment also depends a lot on mathematic and statistical processes to understand the climate - as we can only observe the climate using very sparse measurements.

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  • Climate warming experiment finds unexpected results
    From Phys.org January 4, 2019 by Emily Pontecorvo, American Geophysical Union Tropical forests store about a third of Earth’s carbon and about two-thirds of its above-ground biomass. Most climate change models predict that as the world warms, all...
  • Doughnut Economics: the long-sought alternative to endless growth
    Finding a healthy alternative to the prevailing growth model that has strained the planet to bursting is the holy grail of environmental economics. And it looks like maybe we've found it. George Monbiot, the most dynamic environmental journalist I know,...
  • Now it’s the fungi carbon footprint that isn’t in climate models
    From a long line of missing things in climate models and the University of Texas at Austin: Symbiotic fungi inhabiting plant roots have major impact on atmospheric carbon, scientists say AUSTIN, Texas — Microscopic fungi that live in plants’ roots...
  • Apparently, 4 degrees spells climate doom
    One has to wonder though, since CO2 residence time has been said to be anywhere from  five year to hundreds, or even thousands of years, with no solid agreement yet, how they can be so sure of themselves? From the … Continue reading →
  • Earth Could be Two Times More Sensitive to CO2 Than Previously Thought
    Image via Shutterstock As levels of CO2 in the atmosphere rise, scientists are grappling with a mountain of data to form an accurate picture of the future. Scientists from the Geological Society of London now believe that most current climate models only    
  • US Carbon Dioxide Emissions – down by source
    I’ve often said my email is like a fire hose. Here’s an example of something that got lost in the stream and I didn’t find it until last night while looking for another email. Zeke Hausfather writes (In August 2012): … Continue...
  • Hump Day Hilarity – DECC The Halls
    Josh writes of this development in the UK: Ed Davey’s performance yesterday at the Energy and Climate Change Committee, posted here, was a mix of horror and farce...
  • Is the Bern Model Non-Physical?
    Guest essay by Joe Born Is the Bern Model non-physical? Maybe, but not because it requires the atmosphere to partition its carbon content non-physically. A Bern Model for the response of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration to anthropogenic emissions...
  • Same headline, different year
    Last year it was this headline, including a similar image: CO2 emissions reach record in 2012, driven by China This year, from the University of East Anglia, via Eurekalert, a press release with a basically same headline and with obligatory … Continue...

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Carbon Dioxide Equivalent

A metric measure used to compare the emissions from various greenhouse gases based upon their global warming potential (GWP).

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Carbon Dioxide Fertilization

The enhancement of the growth of plants as a result of increased atmospheric CO2 concentration. Depending on their mechanism of photosynthesis, certain types of plants are more sensitive to changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration.

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Carbon Flux

Carbon movement; movement of organic compounds through an ecosystem. Specifically, the relationship between carbon dioxide absorbed by green plants and carbon dioxide respirated by various organisms.

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Carbon Footprint

Carbon Footprint refers to the the total greenhouse gas emissions that result from a person, organization, product or service over a given time.

It tends to act as an umbrella term for any attempt to measure greenhouse gas emissions and as a result can refer to simply the emissions that result from a single activity, such as flying; the emissions that result from an organization or building over the course of a year; or the full lifetime emissions of a product or organization, including emissions from the supply chain or disposal of resources.

While carbon footprints colloquially refer to the amount of CO2 emitted, the UK Carbon Trust endorses a wider definition and considers all six of the Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gases - Carbon dioxide, Methane, Nitrous oxide, Hydro fluorocarbons, Perfluorocarbons, and Sulfur hexafluoride - when measuring a carbon footprint.

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Carbon Fraud

Carbon Fraud is an aspect of global carbon markets.

Basically due to weak certification and validation processes in carbon markets, it is often quite easy to operate a 'fake' carbon offsetting business; i.e. claiming to run an offshore forest preservation scheme generating carbon credits when no such thing exists in reality (i.e. just pocket the money).

Also, due to the difficult nature of assessing exactly how much carbon some scheme or process offsets, you can also get fraud through over estimating the amount of carbon offset.

It is understood in some regions that organized crime has got involved in carbon markets, and that some markets have had to be suspended to investigate systematic fraud.

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Carbon Intensity

The relative amount of carbon emitted per unit of energy or fuels consumed

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Carbon Leakage

The theory that policy measures designed to reduce CO2 emissions in one country or region will result in an increase in emissions in another country as carbon intensive firms relocate to areas with less demanding environmental regulations.

For example, it is feared that steel plants and other heavy industries faced with planned carbon pricing regulations in the US may move their operations to countries such as China or India that do not have carbon pricing schemes in an attempt to avoid increased costs.

As a result, carbon emissions could simply "leak" from one country to another, resulting in no net reduction in emissions.

The Kyoto Protocol and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme have both been accused of causing carbon leakage, although there is little solid evidence as yet of firms relocating solely as a result of carbon regulations.

One of the primary drivers for a global agreement to tackle climate change is the hope that an international deal would remove the risk of carbon leakage by establishing comparable carbon regulations for all countries.

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Carbon Market

A Carbon Market is a market created from the trading of carbon emission allowances to encourage or help countries and companies to limit their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. This is also known as emissions or carbon trading. Carbon emissions trading is a way of offsetting greenhouse gases produced by polluters.


Under Carbon trading, a country having more emissions of carbon is able to purchase the right to emit more and the country having less emission trades the right to emit carbon to other countries. 

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Carbon Monoxide

A colorless, odorless, poisonous gas produced by incomplete fossil fuel combustion.

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Carbon Neutral

Compensating for the amount of carbon dioxide an entity generates through either obtaining energy from renewable sources or offsetting.

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Carbon Offset

A Carbon Offset is a financial instrument representing a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

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Carbon Pollution

Carbon Pollution refers to the human produced Co2 that is meant to be harming the environment.


The trouble is Co2, in of itself, is not a pollutant, it's a critical element to the majority of life on the Earth via the Oxygen/Co2 exchange between plants and animals. Too little Co2 in the atmosphere will result in the breakdown of this cycle and asphyxiation of most life on the Earth, the critical low point is around 100 ppm (parts per million); before the recent increase in Co2, we were down to 150 ppm. At low levels of Co2 in the atmosphere plants do not thrive or grow as quickly at higher levels (this is why greenhouses pump in Co2 to speed up plant growth).

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Carbon Pool

The reservoir containing carbon as a principal element in the geochemical cycle.

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Carbon Rationing

Limiting the amount of carbon you use each year.

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Carbon Sequestration

The uptake and storage of carbon. Trees and plants, for example, absorb carbon dioxide, release the oxygen and store the carbon. Fossil fuels were at one time biomass and continue to store the carbon until burned.

Carbon sequestration is usually a natural process although machine based techniques can be used to extract or prevent carbon from getting into the atmosphere and put it into long term storage.

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Carbon Sinks

Climate Science is the study of the behaviour of the climate using scientific techniques to discover provable processes and actions within the climate and hence be able to:

  • predict with a degree of accuracy future changes in the climate,
  • advise on how to interact with the climate
Climate Science, although primarily the study of the environment also depends a lot on mathematic and statistical processes to understand the climate - as we can only observe the climate using very sparse measurements.

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Carbon Tax

Climate Science is the study of the behaviour of the climate using scientific techniques to discover provable processes and actions within the climate and hence be able to:

  • predict with a degree of accuracy future changes in the climate,
  • advise on how to interact with the climate
Climate Science, although primarily the study of the environment also depends a lot on mathematic and statistical processes to understand the climate - as we can only observe the climate using very sparse measurements.

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What is carbon?
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Carbon Tetrachloride

A compound consisting of one carbon atom and four chlorine atoms. It is an ozone depleting substance. Carbon tetrachloride was widely used as a raw material in many industrial applications, including the production of chlorofluorocarbons, and as a solvent.

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Carbon Trading

Carbon is the chemical element with symbol C and atomic number 6. As a member of group 14 on the periodic table, it is nonmetallic and tetravalent—making four electrons available to form covalent chemical bonds. There are three naturally occurring isotopes, with 12C and 13C being stable, while 14C is radioactive, decaying with a half-life of about 5730 years. Carbon is one of the few elements known since antiquity. The name "carbon" comes from Latin language carbo, coal.

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