A list of vocabulary items related to the environment:

Important environment issues, natural environmental disasters and other environment vocabulary.

acid rain

rain which contains large amounts of harmful chemicals as a result of burning substances such as coal and oil.


able to decay naturally and harmlessly.

Biodegradable packaging helps to limit the amount of harmful chemicals released into the atmosphere.


the number and variety of plant and animal species that exist in a particular environmental area or in the world generally, or the problem of preserving and protecting this.

a new National Biological Survey to protect species habitat and biodiversity.

carbon monoxide

the poisonous gas formed by the burning of carbon, especially in the form of car fuel.

carbon dioxide

the gas formed when carbon is burned, or when people or animals breathe out.


the general weather conditions usually found in a particular place.

The Mediterranean climate is good for growing citrus fruits and grapes.

climate change

there has been a growing concern about climate change.


the cutting down of trees in a large area; the destruction of forests by people.

Deforestation is destroying large areas of tropical rain forest.


the process by which land changes into desert.

disposable products

describes an item that is intended to be thrown away after use.

disposable nappies


a long period when there is little or no rain.

This year (a) severe drought has ruined the crops.


a sudden violent movement of the Earth's surface, sometimes causing great damage.

endangered species

endangered birds/plants/species animals or plants which may soon not exist because there are very few now alive.


the power from something such as electricity or oil, which can do work, such as providing light and heat. There are different types of energy: solar, nuclear, hydroelectric...

The energy generated by the windmill drives all the drainage pumps.

energy conservation

the process of conserving energy


the air, water and land in or on which people, animals and plants live.

Certain chemicals have been banned because of their damaging effect on the environment.


Many species of plants and animals are in danger of/threatened with extinction (= being destroyed so that they no longer exist)


a large amount of water covering an area that is usually dry.


strong, unpleasant and sometimes dangerous gas or smoke.

Petrol fumes always make me feel ill.

natural resources

things such as minerals, forests, coal, etc. which exist in a place and can be used by people.

Some natural resources, such as natural gas and fossil fuel, cannot be replaced.

global warming

a gradual increase in world temperatures caused by polluting gases such as carbon dioxide which are collecting in the air around the Earth and preventing heat escaping into space.

greenhouse effect

an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere which is believed to be the cause of a gradual warming of the surface of the Earth.

green peace

an organization that fights for the protection of the environment.

renewable energy

describes a form of energy that can be produced as quickly as it is used.

renewable energy sources such as wind and wave power

oil slick

a layer of oil that is floating over a large area of the surface of the sea, usually because an accident has caused it to escape from a ship or container.

ozone layer

a layer of air high above the Earth, which contains a lot of ozone, and which prevents harmful ultraviolet light from the sun from reaching the Earth.

Scientists believe that there is a hole in the ozone layer.


damage caused to water, air.... by harmful substances or waste.

recycle waste

to collect and treat rubbish to produce useful materials which can be used again.

sustainable development

a development that is causing little or no damage to the environment and therefore able to continue for a long time.

A large international meeting was held with the aim of promoting sustainable development in all countries.


an extremely large wave caused by movement of the earth under the sea, often caused by an earthquake (= when the Earth shakes)

unleaded petrol

describes a type of petrol or other substance that does not contain lead.

use up natural resources

The degradation of natural resources because of human pressure


a mountain with a large circular hole at the top through which lava (= hot liquid rock), gases, steam and dust are or have been forced out.

Erupting volcanoes discharge massive quantities of dust into the stratosphere.


unwanted matter or material of any type, often that which is left after useful substances or parts have been removed.

Other related vocabulary: rubbish, garbage, trash.

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