GEODESY: A branch of geophysics, survey methodology involving the mapping of biosphere, map making and correlating with geological, gravitational and magnetic measurements. (JA)
GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS (GIS): Computer technology for the storage, analysis, manipulation, synthesis and display of spatially referenced information. Overlay mapping allows the integration of multiple geographical or social data sets to find patterns, correlations and new information for strategic management. GIS has applications as a decision support tool for defense, urban planning, hazard management, environmental impact assessment and sustainability monitoring. Privacy concerns have been raised over big corporations using GIS for consumer marketing. (See REMOTE SENSING) (MP)
GEOMETRY: The study of solid shapes, surfaces, lines, curves and points in space; including the relationship between lines and points on a surface and the calculation of angles between straight lines etc. (IP)
GEOTHERMAL ENERGY: Geothermal power uses the heat and pressure generated by the movement of subterranean magma and steam to create a renewable energy supply. (See RENEWABLE ENERGY) (MP)
GERM CELLS (GC): Cells connected with reproduction, primordial cells found in testis and ovary. Egg and sperm cells and the cells that give rise to them. (see GENE THERAPY). (germ = reproductive) a reproductive cell precursor to the formation of a sperm or ovum (DM, JA)
GERM-LINE GENE THERAPY: A gene therapy technology targeting the germ cells that eventually produce gametes; that is, the oogonia in the ovaries and the spermatogonia in the testes. The protocol is of injecting correcting, modifying or additional DNA into the pronucleus of a fertilized egg. The technology requires that fertilization would occur in vitro using the usual IVF procedures of super-ovulation and fertilization of a number of egg cells prior to micromanipulation and embryo transfer. Deliberately targeting the human germ-line is problematical from biological and ethical view points, especially in view of unknown consequences passed down generations. To assume the right to manipulate our descendants in this way seems to be an extreme form of arrogance. (See GENE THERAPY, IN UTERO GENE THERAPY, SOMATIC-CELL GENE THERAPY). (IP)
GERMPLASM:The total genetic variability, represented by germ cells or seeds, available to a particular population of organisms. (DM)
GESAMP: Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Pollution. UN, UNEP, UNESCO. (JA)
GHOST SPECIES: Once a population decreases to a certain threshold, the species may be virtually doomed. Lacking sufficient genetic diversity, habitat size or ecological support, the species may live for some time as a non-viable population or require human intervention for the prevention of extinction. Such "ghost species" may lead to an underestimation of biodiversity loss as measured by extinction rate. (See BIODIVERSITY, ENDANGERED SPECIES, EXTINCTION) (MP)
GHB: GHB is short for gamma hydroxybutyrate, a recreational drug also known in the gay and club scenes since the 1990s as Liquid Ecstasy. GHB acts on the dopamine system and has been used medicinally in the past as an anesthetic and antidepressant. When swallowed it has euphoric and aphrodisiac qualities, but taken in excess it may progressively induce drowsiness, nausea, respiratory depression, coma and death. The likelihood of overdose is increased by co-consumption of alcohol and lack of quality control. (See ECSTASY). (IP+MP)
GIFT: Gamete intrafallopian transfer.
GIGA- (G): Prefix denoting one billion (109); for example, 1 gigabyte = 109 bytes. (IP).
GINSENG: (Chinese: jen-shen "man image") The man-shaped root from plants of the genus Panax (from Greek: panacea). Ginseng grows in China, Japan, Korea and America and is a popular remedy in East Asian and North American traditional medicines. Its tonic, stimulant and aphrodisiac properties are said to be good for digestive, nervous, pulmonary and vitality disorders. Some of the active constituents are steroid compounds, so care should be taken with regular use especially during pregnancy. More modern medical research is required to gauge the safety and efficacy of traditional herbal remedies such as ginseng. (See BUSH MEDICINE, HERBALISM). (MP)
GIS: See GEOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION SYSTEMS.
GLOBAL BRAIN: See ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, GAIA, WORLD WIDE WEB.
GLOBAL COMPACT: A set of United Nations principles intended to encourage sustainable corporate practices, the Global Compact was released by Kofi Annan at the 2000 World Economic Forum at Davos. The principles cover international human rights (protection from human rights abuses), labor standards (collective bargaining rights, elimination of forced labor, child labor and employer discrimination) and environment (precautionary principle, environmental responsibility and eco-technology). (See SUSTAINABLE CORPORATION) (MP)
GLOBAL ENERGY BALANCE: A correspondence between the amount of radiant solar energy absorbed the Earth and the amount radiated back outwards, such that the temperature on Earth remains within a range able to support the presence of life (see GLOBAL WARMING, GREENHOUSE EFFECT). (MP)
GLOBAL LIBERALISM - political principles described generally as liberal in the sense of comprehensive ideology or world view, rather than as a partisan political label (see FREE MARKET). (IP)
GLOBAL PROBLEMS GLOBAL SCALE
GLOBAL VILLAGE: The metaphor of the ‘Global Village’, popularized by Marshall McLuhan, brings into stark focus the state of the human condition and makes the distribution of health, wealth and wellbeing more easily conceivable. The following figures are an illustration, and the rough accuracy should not detract from the overall picture. If the world is considered a village of 100 people, it includes about 60 Asians, 10 Europeans, 10 Africans, 10 Latin Americans and 5 North Americans. There are about 30 Christians, 20 Moslems, 10 Hindus and 10 Buddhists. Around 10 villagers are homosexual. Only one person has a university education, and one or two owns a computer. Six or seven people own over two-thirds of the wealth of the whole village. Almost half of the rest are in relative or extreme poverty, living on under US$2 a day. About half of the adults are not literate. One third of the people are children, half of them are not immunized. Half of the women are not able to use contraceptives. More than half do not have access to clean dinking water. One third of all deaths are due to hunger, and the majority of deaths come early due to poor access to health-care facilities. The desperation of the poor and greed of the wealthy often result in envy, fear, terrorism, militarism and environmental destruction. Despite such evident disparity, poor neighbors typically receive official aid handouts less than 1% of the wealth of richer neighborhoods, and often feel manipulated for the economic benefit of the rich. The wealthy few not only protect their neighborhoods with guns – they’ve explosively wired the whole village. The global village concept allows us to see our globe as an integrated and limited whole, highlighting the need for cooperation, neighborly friendship and responsibility, protection of our global backyard, and considering everyone and all life as collective family requiring ethical global family values. (GENUINE PROGRESS INDICATOR, HUMAN DEVELOPMENT INDEX, HUMAN FREEDOM INDEX, INDEX OF SOCIAL HEALTH, STATE OF THE ENVIRONMENT REPORT) (MP)
GLOBAL WARMING:See CLIMATE, GREENHOUSE EFFECT
GLOBALIZATION: Globalization commonly refers to a tendency to transcend the boundaries of the nation state. This tendency can be observed in almost every aspect of modern life: ideologies, economics, technical advances, transnational regulations, environmental problems. Whereas in the course of the 20th century, nation states have been the main agents in the international community, they are increasingly being replaced by non-governmental and/or transnational actors. Environmentalist movements operate worldwide, international organizations address the problems of global warming or the problem of poverty, and transnational companies are important players on the world market. High technology advances (media, the internet) have enabled individuals to communicate with others in any part of the world, hereby enabled them to participate globalizing their lives.
Nevertheless, globalization cannot only be viewed as a desirable process. Many critics have been addressing the problems that globalization poses: while it broadens the options for westerners and highly educated elites all around the world, it increases discrimination of the poor even further. In this context, globalization can be defined as the spacial and temporal approximation of world regions that have access to high tech means for communication and information. (BP)
GLUCAGON: See DIABETES MELLITUS.
GLUE SNIFFING: See SOLVENT ABUSE.
GLUON: Subatomic particle. (name based on the word "glue" + the suffix "-on" common to particles) Gluons "hold together" groups of quarks. Different types of gluons are distinguished by a quality known as "color". (see QUARK) (AG)
GLYPHOSPHATE: See ROUNDUP.
GMOs: Genetically modified organisms. For example, recombinant DNA sequences are used in plants for several purposes: to introduce desirable qualities such as crop yield, disease resistance, herbicide tolerance and insect resistance. See LMOs. (FL)
GNP: See GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT.
GOD: A being, creator, person, eternal, personal, omnipotent and omnipresent. (JA+FL)
GODEL, K: Mathematician who proved that no set of axioms including the laws of arithmetic can ever be complete. There are always true statements that cannot be proven from the axioms. (MV)
GODS: Usually "God" refers to the One God, while "gods" refers to deities of polytheistic religions. In polytheistic religions, sometimes statues or other idols are referred to as "gods", but deeper thinkers regard these as material representations of concepts or of spiritual beings. The similarity between the gods of "polytheistic" religions and the ANGELS (q.v.) of "monotheistic" ones may make the distinction between polytheism and monotheism outdated. (FL)
GOLDEN RULE: An almost universal principle of ethics, the ‘Golden Rule’ is summarized by the phrase “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Variations on this theme recur across most religions and ethical philosophies, including Zoroastrianism, Confucianism, Jainism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, in the Mahabharata, the Book of Leviticus, Kant, Mill’s Utilitarianism, and Rawls’ Theory of Justice. Deep Ecology also recognizes the golden rule for the Earth’s other species and ecosystems. (See RECIPROCITY) (MP& MV)
GONDWANA: about 200 million years ago all major continents were locked together in a supercontinent named Pangea (meaning "all Earth"). Pangea began to break up about 190 million years ago. First, the northern group of continents (Laurasia) split apart from the southern group (Gondwana). Laurasia formed North America and Eurasia while Gondwana broke into three parts; Africa-South America, Australia-Antarctica and India. India drifted northwards and collided with Asia which collision initiated the uplift of the Himalayas. Subsequently, South America and Africa separated and Antarctica separated from Australia. From the outset, continental drift has been closely interwoven with that of evolution. Australia, which has been separated the longest from other continents (about 65 million years) has the most distinct biota, including its indigenous people. Interestingly, the first evidence of life on Earth comes from the north-west of Western Australia, where microbe-size fossils, some of which may have produced oxygen, have been dated at 3.465 billion years before present. South America has the next most distinct biota, having been isolated from other continents for nearly 60 million years. North America and Eurasia, which were joined together for much of Earth’s history, have very similar biotas. (IP)
GOOD SAMARITAN: The term originates in the New Testament story in the book of Luke (chapter 10). In that story, a Jewish man was attacked by thieves and left for dead. As he lay there by the side of the road hoping for help, two people walked by without extending any assistance. Then a Samaritan (inhabitant of the Samaria region, and traditional enemy of the Jews) took the wounded man to an inn, tended to his wounds, fed him, and paid his expenses. The exemplary behavior of this Samaritan was remembered in the expression "good Samaritan", which was later extended to refer to anyone who saw a person in need and extended assistance. (AG)
GOSSES: A Hebrew word referring to a patient who is in the process of dying. There is no clear and universally accepted definition of the word, although some physicians and nurses say that they can recognize someone who is about to die. In Jewish Law, "HALACHA" (q.v.) a gosses is regarded as totally alive. This means that it is forbidden to disturb a gosses in such a way as to hasten death. It is for this reason that some Rabbis forbid testing for brain death with advanced methods of imaging, because it may disturb a gosses. And killing a gosses is murder. On the other hand , a distinguished Israeli Rabbi, Rabbi Itzhak Silberstein, in "Assia", the Hebrew journal of Halacha and medicine, argued that it is a question which requires further deep study, whether the Law of the Pursuer (Din ha-Rodef, which requires one to take violent action against anyone who is acting so as to threaten the life of an innocent person) applies at all when the threatened person is a gosses. (FL)
GPS: Global Positioning System.
GRADUALISM: The process and belief in a gradual progression of change, as of erosion in geology. This was the belief underpinning Darwin’s concept of evolution until the ‘punctuated equilibrium’ model of Eldridge and Gould. In ethics and philosophy, gradualism implies continuous or small progressive steps towards an ideal; for example the Social Democrat would be a greater believer in gradualism than perhaps would the Socialist. (See PUNCTUATED EQUILIBRIUM) (MP)
GRAPH: A drawing that illustrates the relationship between numbers, values or quantities and is typically drawn with coordinate axes at right angles. For example, the heights of children of a certain age from differing socioeconomic backgrounds can be shown by making the distance along a horizontal line represent the child's background (converted to an arbitrary number scheme along the affluence-poverty scale) and the distance up the vertical line represent the child's height in meters. (See BAR CHART, HISTOGRAM). (IP)
GRAY GOO CATASTROPHE: This term is used in nanotechnology discourse to refer to the possibility of an apocalyptic end to life on Earth as a result of accidental release of the wrong replicating assemblers. Nanotechnology "bacteria" could be designed to utilize elements such as carbon from their surroundings to replicate more of themselves in an uncontrollable chain reaction. This evolutionarily superior "gray goo" may spread rapidly across the globe to obliterate all species including its creator. (See NANOTECHNOLOGY, NANOTECHNOLOGY WEAPONS) (MP)
GREAT APE PROJECT: A book title and organization. The idea is to include the nonhuman great apes (chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans) within the community of equals by granting them the basic moral and legal protection that only human beings currently enjoy. The book is an edited work from a group of scientists and scholars against the unthinking denial of fundamental rights, or moral protections, to beings who are not members of our own species, but who quite evidently possess many of the characteristics that we consider morally important. The organization is an international group founded to work for the removal of the nonhuman great apes from the category of property, and for their immediate inclusion within the category of persons. Their long-term goal is a United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Great Apes. (Web site: http://www.greatapeproject.org/) (DM)
GREAT BARRIER REEF MARINE PARK: Australia is home to the largest coral reef in the world, the Great Barrier Reef extending from tropical latitudes to temperate ones, a super-organism visible from space. It is managed as a multiple-use zoned Marine Park. Forty different bioregions are recognized; within these Green Zones are protected, Yellow is for recreational fishing and Blue for commercial fishing excluding trawling. Many of the world’s coral reefs are not in the hands of wealthy countries, but they must be protected. Much can be learnt from the Australian experience of sustainable management, for example the Australian Institute of Marine Science and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. (See CORAL REEF, MARINE PARK) (MP)
GREED: (Old English graedig "covetous"). Excessive desire to acquire or consume more than is reasonable or fair, for example in relation to wealth, power or resource consumption. (see SUFFICIENCY). (MP)
GREEN: (German: grün ‘grow’) The adjective green implies association with ecology, conservation of nature and relevance to environmental issues; for example the ‘green revolution’ involved new high-yield agricultural techniques, a ‘green belt’ is uncultivated nature or parks surrounding a community, ‘greenery’ is growing plant foliage, ‘greens’ are leafy vegetables, and a ‘green thumb’ implies gardening ability. The green activist movement has been building since the early 70s along with green politics and organizations such as Greenpeace. Conservationists have become ‘greenies’ with ‘shallow/light green’ or ‘deep/dark green’ ideologies. Green is also increasingly used as an adjective - ‘green products’, and as a verb - ‘greening’ a corporate image. (See DEEP ECOLOGY, ECOLOGISM, ENVIRONMENTALISM, GREEN MOVEMENT, GREENIES) (MP)
GREEN BAN: ‘Green Bans’ are strikes or union bans imposed in recognition of particular ethical or environmental concerns identified by the workers or community. (See GREEN MOVEMENT, INDUSTRIAL ACTION) (MP)
GREEN CONSUMERISM: Concern for the environmental and human health has created economic demand for green products, green labeling, recyclable materials, organic foods, soft energy/technology, green standards of practice, corporate responsibility/liability, ethical investments, etc. Multinational corporations have responded, not only in forms like the Body Shop and health-food stores, but more broadly across the spectrum - corporate and executive images are being cleaned and greened ranging from Microsoft to British Petroleum. The power of consumer demand is one of the motivating factors towards a green economy; others include green politics, green taxes etc. (See ECOLOGICAL ECONOMICS, ENVIRONMENTAL ECONOMICS, GREEN) (MP)
GREEN FLASH is an intense, brief flash visible under certain conditions following the moment the sun goes beyond the horizon. The phenomenon is due to refraction of light rays from the setting sun as they pass through the lower layers of the atmosphere (See HALOES, MIRAGES, RAINBOWS). (IP)
GREEN MOVEMENT: A strong international activist movement and political viewpoint which has the following central assumptions: intrinsic value and preservation of nature, eco-centrism, ethical value systems, sustainable development, grassroots democracy, social and economic justice, disarmament and non-violence. It involves movement towards the alternative environmental paradigm of a decentralized, non-consumeristic, non-nuclear, participatory, harmonious society. The green movement shares the aims of the peace movement and some of those of the anti-globalization movement, recognizing that ecological values require factoring in to human activities, and that poverty itself comprises a threat to environmental protection. Some of the earliest environmental political groups were formed in West Germany by people such as Petra Kelly, the German Greens, ‘Grüne Aktion Zukunft’ and electoral candidate ‘green lists’. Political lobbying, electoral campaigning and legal argument through official channels are essential elements of the green movement alongside activism and community pressure. Green politics is a moderately strong force in educated and developed countries, especially some parts of Europe with high population density and human-dominated ecosystems. Taking the Australian experience as a historical example, the ‘Green Bans’ from 1971, partly inspired by the women’s group ‘Battlers for Kelly’s Bush’, were workers union bans imposed on developments in support of the environment. These led to Conservation and Planning Acts, Land and Environment Courts, Heritage Trust legislation, and the establishment of Green Parties. Prominent green political figures have included Ian Cohen, Peter Garrett and Bob Brown, one of the more humane individuals in Australian politics. Famous battles for the environment included Lake Pedder and Franklin River (large dams), East Gippsland (forestry) and Jabiluka (uranium mining). There is still a long way to go (e.g. woodchipping of old-growth forests, land clearing, salinization), despite efforts such as the ‘National Strategy for the Implementation of Sustainable Development’ in combination with the National Parks and Wildlife Service and organizations such as Australian Conservation Foundation and the Wilderness Society. Globally the movement includes United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), environmental watchdogs like WorldWatch Institute, green charities like World Wildlife Fund, and activist networks like Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. Prominent international contributors to the green movement have included in no particular order Rachel Carson, David Suzuki, Gro Harlem Brundtland, David Attenborough, Chico Mendes, Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, Wangari Maathai, Jacques Cousteau, Paul Ehrlich, Theodore Roszak, Richard Leakey, Edward Goldsmith, Lester Brown, Norman Myers, Howard Rheingold, James Lovelock, Amory and Hunter Lovins and E.O. Wilson. (See ACTIVISM, ANTI-GLOBALIZATION MOVEMENT, ENVIRONMENTALISM, GREEN, GREEN CONSUMERISM, GREENIES, PEACE MOVEMENT, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT) (MP)
GREEN REVOLUTION: The very large increase in agricultural productivity in the late 20th Century facilitated by the introduction of high-yielding crop varieties, increased use of pesticides and fertilizers, and improved management techniques. The Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR; http://www.cgiar.org/) coordinates a network of international agricultural research institutes focused especially on the needs of developing countries; CGIAR has been involved in many of the innovations that made the green revolution possible. (RW)
GREENHOUSE EFFECT: Trapping of heat within the Earth's atmosphere. If the Earth had no atmosphere, its average surface temperature would be about -18 oC but the various GREENHOUSE GASES (q.v.) prevent much of the incoming radiation from the Sun from being re-radiated out into space. Some of these gases, particularly carbon dioxide, are increasing in concentration as a result of human activity - particularly the burning of fossil fuels. (See GLOBAL WARMING) (MR)
GREENHOUSE GASES: Carbon dioxide, water vapour, methane, nitrous oxides, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), nitrous oxides and the other gases that trap heat within the Earth's atmosphere. (See GREENHOUSE EFFECT) (MR)
GREENIES: Colloquial term for people active in or concerned with conservation, environmental issues or green politics. People with a green outlook range from everyday citizens through to deep ecologists and radical activists, and usage of the term ‘greenie’ ranges from friendly to derogatory depending on perspective. Greenies may have much in common with related groups, especially with the peace movement (‘peaceniks’), small-scale sufficiency lifestyles (‘hippies’), and to a lesser degree with socialist ideology (‘reds’). Greenies should try not to be inexperienced or gullible (‘greenhorns’), avoid over-consumption (unlike the ‘yuppie’), and stand opposed to those who fight, hunt or discriminate (‘rednecks’). (See HIPPIES, YUPPIES) (MP)
GREER, GERMAINE: (1939- ). Australian writer and feminist whose influential best seller 'The Female Eunuch' (1970) became in the 1970s the public face of feminism. Greer rejects the stereotype of femininity that 'castrates' women by conditioning them to believe that passivity and dependence is the natural female state. Throughout her career she has urged women to fight against this artificial attitude and, if they are to fully express their genetic creativity, encouraged them to explore their sexuality. In her later works Greer investigated the importance of motherhood to women in 'Sex and Destiny: The Politics of Human Fertility' and whether aging post the menopause is a special kind of female liberation in 'The Change: Women, Ageing, and the Menopause' 1991. (See BEAUVOIR, DWORKIN). (IP)
GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT (GDP): GDP is an aggregated annual measure of the total market value of goods and services produced within a nation. "Gross" implies that expenditures on replacement of capital goods are not deducted, and "domestic" implies that incomes from foreign investments are not included. The problem with GDP lies in how the statistic is used and interpreted. GDP is an index of economic turnover rather than national wealth, as it fails to measure the value of unpaid and voluntary work, or the economic potential of existing infrastructure and unexploited natural resources. Importantly, it does not differentiate between detrimental and sustainable generation of income, masking the impacts of some economic activities on social and natural systems. For example, GDP registers economic gain from such things as accidents requiring medical treatment, inbuilt obsolescence of goods, and environmentally destructive developments. The common use of GDP per capita as a measure of quality of life or human wellbeing is therefore flawed by its inability to pick up such social and environmental consequences. A nation’s GDP must be compared with other broader indicators such as the Human Development Index or Genuine Progress Indicator to reveal information about the distribution and use of available resources for the people. (See GENUINE PROGRESS INDICATOR, GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT, HUMAN DEVELOPMENT INDEX) (MP)
GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT (GNP):GNP is an aggregated annual measure of the total market value of goods and services produced by a nation, including income from overseas investments but excluding income to overseas investors. GNP influences the distribution of power and policy in the international economic system, for example voting power in the International Monetary Fund. Although GNP is a useful economic statistic, it is not necessarily an accurate measure of sustainable progress or human well being. (See GENUINE PROGRESS INDICATOR, GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT) (MP)