Home 9 Pollution and environmental damage

Pollution and environmental damage

The following vocabulary is useful for understanding and discussing pollution and environmental damage

Environmental issues

  • Deforestation – clearing trees; changing forest into bare land
  • Overpopulation – when there are too many of a species, more than available resources can support
  • Intensive farming – farming techniques that can have a long term effect on the land
  • Extinction – where an entire species of animal or plant is completely killed off; there are no more on the planet
  • Greenhouse effect – where the sun’s warmth is trapped inside the atmosphere due to greenhouse gases
  • Renewable energy – where electricity is generated from sources that are not reduced by using them (e.g. hydro power or solar power)
  • Fossil fuels – a natural fuel that often has an environmental impact when used (coal, gas and oil)

Other words for environment

  • Habitat – the natural home of an animal or plant
  • The natural world – used when talking about nature
  • Ecology – the relationship between animals and plants to their natural environment
  • Dwelling – place where animals or plants live


  • Landfill – where rubbish (trash) is compacted into a hole then covered over with dirt
  • Waste disposal – anything that relates to the removal of waste

Types of pollution / other words you can use

  • Acid rain – this is caused by rain becoming acidic due to air pollution
  • Contamination – this is where something is damaged or affected by another form of pollution (a secondary effect)
  • Emissions – these are gases that are released into the atmosphere (e.g. car exhaust emissions)
  • Soil erosion – when soil is easily washed away because trees or other plants are no longer holding it in place – commonly happens after deforestation
  • Toxic waste – this is the by product of producing something that is dangerous to the environment. Nuclear power has a lot of toxic waste
  • Smog – a thick form of air pollution that is like a fog (common in many large cities like London or Beijing)
  • Light pollution – the light produced by cities that artificially lights the sky at night and prevents people from viewing the stars
  • Noise pollution – noise that causes discomfort or harm to people and animals


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Pollution and environmental damage

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Pollution and environmental damage