Definitions - b

Background Extinction Rate

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Background Level

The average amount of a substance present in the environment. Originally referring to naturally occurring phenomena. Used in toxic substance monitoring.

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Bactericide

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Bamboo
Bamboo

A widespread epidemic throughout an area, nation or the world.

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Barra System

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Base Load

The average amount of electric power that a utility must supply in any period.

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Basel Convention

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Baseline Emissions

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Benefical Organism

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Benzene

A toxic, six-carbon aromatic component of gasoline. A known carcinogen.

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Beryllium

A metal hazardous to human health when inhaled as an airborne pollutant. It is discharged by machine shops, ceramic and propellant plants, and foundries.

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Betz Coefficient

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Bioaccumulants

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Bioassay

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Biochar
Biochar

Biochar is charcoal created by pyrolysis of biomass. The resulting charcoal-like material can be used as a soil improver to create terra preta, and is a form of carbon capture and storage. Charcoal is a stable solid and rich in carbon content, and thus, can be used to lock carbon in the soil. Biochar is of increasing interest because of concerns about mitigation of global warming being caused by emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

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Bioconcentration

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Biocontrol

Using natural means like predators to control pests, like growing ginger to repel snails and slugs and nasturtiums to ward off aphids, which are also food for ladybugs and lacewing moths. Goldfish placed in water storage containers eat incoming mosquitoes.

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Biodegradable

Material that can be broken down into simpler substances (elements and compounds) by bacteria or other decomposers. Paper and most organic wastes such as animal manure are biodegradable.

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Biodegradable Pollutants

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Biodiesel

Biodiesel is an alternative fuel produced from renewable resources such as plant oils, animal fats, used cooking oil, and new sources such as algae. Biodiesel contains no petroleum, but can be combined in any quantity with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend. Biodiesel blends can be used in most "compression-ignition" (diesel) engines with little or no modifications. Biodiesel is simple to use, biodegradable, nontoxic, and essentially free of sulfur and aromatics (the "diesel" odor). (Biodiesel is not raw vegetable oil.)

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Biodiversity

In an ecosystem, variability among living organisms from all sources, sometimes measured by the total number of species or other taxonomic groupings, and their relative abundances.

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Biodynamic Argiculture

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Bioethanol

A biofuel produced by the fermentation of plants rich in sugar/starch (e.g. sugar cane, corn).

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Biofilm

Population of various microrganisms, trapped in a layer of slime and excretion products, attached to a surface.

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Biofuel

Gas or liquid fuel made from plant material (biomass). Includes wood, wood waste, wood liquors, peat, railroad ties, wood sludge, spent sulfite liquors, agricultural waste, straw, tires, fish oils, tall oil, sludge waste, waste alcohol, municipal solid waste, landfill gases, other waste, and ethanol blended into motor gasoline.

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Biogas

A gas fuel sourced from the decomposition of waste, converting what would be waste and potent greenhouse gases into an energy source.

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Biogeochemical Cycle

Global warming is the name given to the theory that there is increase in the average temperature of the Earth surface air and oceans since the mid-20th century and its projected continuation.

The exact mechanism of warming is not precisely understood, although it is strongly suspected that Greenhouse gases are to blame, as increasing concentrations of such gases help trap heat in the atmosphere and so raise mean temperatures.

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Biological Oxygen Demand

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Biological Pest Control

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Biological Treatment

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Biomagnification

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Biomass

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Biomass Energy

Energy produced by combusting biomass materials such as wood. The carbon dioxide emitted from burning biomass will not increase total atmospheric carbon dioxide if this consumption is done on a sustainable basis (i.e., if in a given period of time, regrowth of biomass takes up as much carbon dioxide as is released from biomass combustion). Biomass energy is often suggested as a replacement for fossil fuel combustion.

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Biome

Entire community of living organisms in a single major ecological area.

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Biophotolysis

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Biophysical

The living and non-living components and processes of the ecosphere. Biophysical measurements of nature quantify the ecosphere in physical units such as cubic metres, kilograms or joules.

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Biopiracy

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Bioregion

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Bioremediation

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Biosolids

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Biosphere

In essence the Biosphere is all the ecosystems that exist in a planet. Including how they interact, evolve and change over time.

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Bioswale

Bioswales are landscape elements designed to remove silt and pollution from surface runoff water. They consist of a swaled drainage course with gently sloped sides (less than six percent) and filled with vegetation, compost and/or riprap. The water's flow path, along with the wide and shallow ditch, is designed to maximize the time water spends in the swale, which aids the trapping of pollutants and silt. Depending upon the geometry of land available, a bioswale may have a meandering or almost straight channel alignment. Biological factors also contribute to the breakdown of certain pollutants.

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Biota

The plant and animal life of a region or area.

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Biotechnology

Technology that use living organisms to produce products such as medicines, to improve plants or animals, or to produce microorganisms for bioremediation.

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Biotransformation

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Bisphenol-a

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Black Body

In theory, a body that absorbs and emits 100% of the electromagnetic radiation that strikes it and therefore appears black. Graphite comes close, with all but 3% absorption.

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Blackwater

Wastewater generated by toilets.

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Bladder Tank

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Bleached Board

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Bliss Point

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Blown In Insulation

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Body Burden

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Boreal

Northern; cold temperate Northern Hemisphere forests that grow where there is a mean annual temperature < 0°C.

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Borehole

Any exploratory hole drilled into the Earth or ice to gather geophysical data.

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Boron

The chemical element commonly used as the dopant in a solar photovoltaic device or cell material.

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Bottle Bank

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Box Schemes

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Brackish Water

Mixed fresh and salt water.

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Brakedrum Windmill

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Breakpoint Chlorination

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Bright Green

Term coined by World-changing writer Alex Steffen to refer to those who believe the way to achieve sustainability is through technological innovation. As opposed to dark greens and light greens.

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Brominated Flame Retardants

Chemicals added to plastics, textiles, furniture foam and padding, and other products to prevent them from catching fire. BFRs, as they are known, are long-lived poisons that build up in fat. In animal studies, they have been linked to hormonal and neurological disorders.

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Brown Goods

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Brown Search

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Buckwheat

A plant cultivated for its triangular grains, which are protected by a hull. This crop is generally grown without herbicides and pesticides.

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Building Envelope

The entire perimeter of a building enclosed by its roof, walls and foundation. Properly designed, the envelope can minimize temperature gain or loss and moisture infiltration.

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Building Orientation

Building Orientation refers to positioning of a property or building with respect to the Sun, usually done to maximize solar gain at the appropriate time of year when required. This is to reduce heating costs and improve quality of living in the property concerned.

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Building Paper

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Building-Related Illness

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Bycatch

The accidental harvest of one organism instead of another, such as crustaceans caught in shrimp trawls and dolphins trapped instead of tuna.

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