This is a living dictionary and it welcomes comments from all


Download 3.31 Mb.
Size3.31 Mb.
1   ...   51   52   53   54   55   56   57   58   59

VOLUNTARY ADMISSION: Entrance into a mental health facility at a person's request or with his or her consent. (DM)

VOLUNTARY EUTHANASIA: The killing of a patient who is suffering or is afflicted with an incurable disease or condition, for reasons of mercy, at that person's request or with his or her consent. (DM)


VOLUNTARY STERILIZATION: Sterilization performed at the request of, or with the informed consent of, the patient. (DM)

VOLUNTARY ADMISSION: Entrance into a mental health facility at a person's request or with his or her consent. (DM)


VULNERABLE SPECIES: A species or other taxon which is at high risk of becoming extinct in the wild in the medium-term future. This may be indicated by any of the following measures: a) a previous or projected population reduction of at least 20% over whichever is longer of a period of 10 years or three generations, b) extent of occurrence less than 20,000 km2 or area of occupancy less than 2000 km2, along with population decline, fragmentation or extreme fluctuations, c) population less than 10,000 mature individuals with continuing decline, d) population less than 1000 mature individuals, or e) probability of extinction in the wild at least 10% within 100 years. (See CRITICALLY ENDANGERED, ENDANGERED SPECIES, EXTINCTION, GHOST SPECIES) (MP)































WAR CRIMINAL: An officer who was responsible for cruel acts, while he was serving in the army which lost the war.(FL)

WASTE: Gratuitous use and squander of resources by the human species, a result of unnecessary products, unused by-products, excess packaging, overzealous advertising, inbuilt redundancy, conspicuous consumption and a preoccupation with economic growth. Consumption of resources by humans causes damaging flows of waste back into the environment, including landfill rubbish, industrial pollutants and sewage. (See CONSPICUOUS CONSUMPTION, CONSUMPTION, ECONOMY, INBUILT REDUNDANCY, RECYCLING) (MP)

WATER CRISIS: A state of emergency in which populations are at risk of death, disease and panic due to an interruption/contamination of the fresh water supply. Many communities of the world endure an unclean, unpredictable and remote water source on a daily basis. The term also refers to times of drought and insufficient water supply to agricultural and ecological systems. (See WATER CYCLE, WATER POLLUTION, WATER PURIFICATION) (MP)

WATER CYCLE: The movement of water from the oceans to the atmosphere by solar evaporation, to the soil by precipitation, and back to the oceans via runoff from rivers and groundwater. Some water is cycled many times within compartments of the system before completing one full circuit. Terrestrial ecologies including humans are dependent upon sustainable management of the fresh water phase of this cycle. (MP)

WATER PURIFICATION: Clean, clear water is an essential requirement of the healthy body. Fresh water may be purified by filtration processes (e.g. sand/charcoal filtering particulate matter), adsorbtion (e.g. activated carbon for non-biodegradable organic compounds), precipitation (reduces water 'hardness'), reverse osmosis (semi-permeable membranes separated by ionic pressure differentials), electrodialysis (electric filtration), distillation (multistage flash distillation, vapor compression, desalinization plants), freezing (freezing-vapor compression), boiling (microorganism sterilization) and other chemical processes such as sedimentation, ion exchange, coagulation, flocculation, solvent extraction, hydrate formation, aeration, chlorination and fluoridation. (See DESALINATION, WATER CRISIS, WATER POLLUTION) (MP)

WATSON, JAMES DEWEY: 1928 - Together with Francis Crick, the discoverer in 1953 of the double stranded helical structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the molecule that carries hereditable information in living things. Winner of the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine together with Crick and Maurice Hugh Frederick Wilkins. President of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a leading molecular biology research and education institution ( (RW)

WAVE POWER: Electricity generated from energy produced by the action of coastal waves. Wave power often uses the vertical oscillations of floating devices to spin generators, dependent upon wind, current and underwater topography. Wave energy has proven a technological and economic challenge and as yet contributes little to the world's energy supply. (See OCEAN POWER, RENEWABLE ENERGY, TIDAL ENERGY) (MP)

WCED: World Commission on Environment and Development

WEAK SUSTAINABILITY: "Weak" (or "broad") sustainability requires the passing on to the next generation of an aggregate stock equivalent to that of today ("constant capital") but is indifferent to the form in which it is passed on. Unlike "strong" sustainability, in this scheme the environment is treated as simply another capital stock, with the generous assumption that natural assets are substitutable and can be replaced by human infrastructure. A better argument may be that human wealth should be compensated for by environmental regeneration. Even for weak sustainability, the use of non-renewable resources must generate investment in alternatives, and critical natural capital cannot be substituted. (See CONSTANT CAPITAL, CRITICAL NATURAL CAPITAL, STRONG SUSTAINABILITY) (MP)

WEALTH: Wealth refers to accumulated ownership, whether of money, property, knowledge, happiness or any other collectable faculty. Wealth is unevenly distributed between individuals and countries, with a tendency to flow towards existing wealth rather than distributing evenly. Excessive accumulation of material wealth not distributed back into the community will indirectly rob the poorest of their wellbeing. Countries have three major forms of wealth; material/economic wealth, human/cultural wealth and natural/biological wealth. (See POVERTY, WELLBEING) (MP)

WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION: Internationally maligned groups of horrendous weapons subject to international law through various global bans and non-proliferation treaties, WMD include nuclear weapons (e.g. atomic, hydrogen and neutron bombs), chemical weapons (e.g. mustard gas, vx nerve agent, sarin) and biological weapons (e.g. anthrax, smallpox, botulinim toxin). Concern must be expressed against the blurring of the boundaries of weapons of mass destruction, such as current discussion about low-impact nuclear weapons and gamma ray bombs. Similarly, future technological developments have equal potential for mass destruction, with potential impacts on the scale of the Earth or larger (including space weapons, genetically engineered bioweapons, nanotechnology and robotics). Examples of conventions against WMD include the Geneva Conventions and Protocols, Hague Conventions, Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I and II), Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties (START I and II), Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous and Other Gases and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare (1925), Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (1993), Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (1995), Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (1996) and Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (1997). (See AUTONOMOUS WEAPONS, BIOLOGICAL WARFARE, CHEMICAL WARFARE, CONVENTIONAL WEAPONS, DEMILITARIZATION, DISARMAMENT, NANOTECHNOLOGY WEAPONS, NON LETHAL WEAPONRY, NUCLEAR WEAPONS, SPACE WEAPONS) (MP)

WEB: 1. A network of interconnecting nodes which can transmit energy and materials (e.g. ‘food web’). 2. Spider’s silken net used for prey capture. 3. The internet’s World Wide Web. (See FOOD WEB, WORLD WIDE WEB) (MP)

WEB ADDRESS: The internet is accessed through an Internet Services Provider (ISP). Sources are differentiated according to their ‘web address’ and accessed by clicking on ‘hypertext’ links. Hyper-Text Markup Language (html) is the Internet-based computer language used to create the World Wide Web document and address system. Hyper-Text Transfer Protocol (http) is used to deliver an address called URL (Uniform Resource Locator). A collection of documents for browsing is the ‘web site’ and a single document is a ‘web page’. An individual person’s letterbox is their ‘e-mail’ address. (See CYBERSPACE, EMAIL, WORLD WIDE WEB) (MP)

WEB BROWSER: The World Wide Web is searched and sifted through the platform of a ‘Web browser’ (e.g. Netscape Navigator, Microsoft Explorer), ‘Web Search Directory’ (Yahoo,, Infoseek, Britannica), ‘Search-engine’ (Google, AltaVista), ‘Web Metasearch Agent’ (Internet Sleuth, Metacrawler) and/or commercial ‘Web Portal’ (e.g. Microsoft’s msn). A directory implies human assembly and design, while an engine implies an automated process, each with their benefits and limitations. (See INTERNET, OPERATING SYSTEM, WEB ADDRESS) (MP)

WEDGE ARGUMENT: Ethical argument which asserts that one morally questionable action or policy will set a precedent for, or lead to, other actions or policies which are even more morally questionable. (DM)

WEED: Unwanted plant. For most of our agricultural history, farmers have tried to prevent weeds from growing. In many parts of the world, weeds still devastate many crops. However, in countries that use large amounts of herbicides and other products of BIOTECHNOLOGY (q.v.), weeds are now much scarcer than they used to be. This scarcity decreases the BIODIVERSITY (q.v.) of organisms on FARMS (q.v.). For example, birds that feed on weed seeds become rarer. Because of this, increasing numbers of people are questioning whether weed eradication should be our aim. (MR)

WELLBEING: (Anglo-Saxon: wyllan + beon 'to be') a good existence as defined by the individual. Researchers, since the early 1950s, have identified key factors in the generation and maintenance of physical, psychological and social wellbeing - the most notable being that a sense of control over our lives promotes wellbeing more powerfully than an appropriate command over behaviors such as smoking, diet and exercise. Since wellbeing can be improved by self-sustaining behavior, advanced by heightened personal empowerment, it is a pity that personal mastery which becomes a top priority in sickness, diminishes in the maintenance of the continuum of wellness. Modern ethical principles in medicine; such as, unconstrained informed patient consent, respect for patient confidentiality, frankness about medical uncertainties and justice, promote wellbeing as they reflect responsible patient control over their own health. Contrary to popular belief, acute stress is an essential function which protects our bodies against demanding life events and can actually boost wellbeing, as it increases arousal and attention. Acute stress also enhances our immunity. Chronic stress, whether physical or psychological, depresses our immune system function through an over-production of the stress hormones (see ALLOSTASIS, GENUINE PROGRESS INDICATOR, HEALTH, LEARNED HELPLESSNESS, STRESS). (IP)

WEST: A term derived from the hemisphere of Eurasia in which it originated, "The West" refers to the civilization which evolved from the Classical legacy in Europe originally founded upon Greek and Roman philosophy, law and politics. Western civilization’s historical influences include the Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution, scientific rationalism, individualism, capitalism, democracy, human rights and sustainable development. Western Christendom, later divided into Catholic and Protestant, distinguished the patriarchate of Rome from the liturgies of Eastern capitals such as Constantinople. Despite different influences, Orthodox Christians are increasingly included as Westerners since the fall of Soviet Communism. South Americans are also usually included as non-characteristic Westerners with their unique identity, strong indigenous component and relative poverty. The pillars of Western Civilization are of course Europe and North America, as well as other colonies such as Australia and New Zealand. (See NORTH, OCCIDENTAL) (MP)

WESTERN DECLINE: The West is the richest civilization, with massive military capability and domination of the international finance system, weapons industries and international communications. Commentators such as Samuel Huntington have however prophesized gradual or punctuated erosion of Western power. This decline may be due to global demographic shifts (i.e. a non-Western youth bulge with a "graying" West), global indigenization (e.g. the "democracy paradox" in which newly-formed democracies vote for non-Western tradition), the anti-capitalism movement, postmodern cultural confusion (e.g. antisocial behavior, apathy, weak work ethic, family breakdown, religious decline), and perhaps also a little international resentment for what is sometimes perceived as Western arrogance, decadence or economic imperialism. (See CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS, COLONIALISM, DECADENCE, INDIGENIZATION, POSTMODERNISM) (MP)

WESTERN PHILOSOPHY: Western civilization comes from the Christian faith, divided since the Reformation into Catholic and Protestant, and today with large agnostic and mixed religious groups. Western philosophy has a distinguished lineage, including the fields of metaphysics (e.g. Plato, Aquinas, Leibniz, Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Nagel), ethics (Aristotle, Christ, Spinoza, Mill, Rawls), politics (More, Hobbes, Rousseau), economics (Smith, Marx, Keynes, Schumpeter), consciousness (Descartes, Sartre), psychology (Freud, Jung, Laing), science (Bacon, Popper, Kuhn, Einstein, Heisenberg), language (Chomsky, Derrida), logic (Kant, Russell) and knowledge (Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Foucault). Western society is today characterized by separation of church from state a release of politics which contributed to its social pluralism and individualism. Western individualism (concentrating more on rights, e.g. freedoms, equality, human rights) may contrast somewhat with the collectivism of many other civilizations (based more on responsibilities, e.g. to family, state or God). Clearly a blend of the two is essential to ethics and sustainability (individual rights and wellbeing balanced by social and environmental responsibilities). Western philosophy embraces liberty, the rule of law, constitutionalism, gender equality, cultural diversity, representative institutions, private property, capitalism, strong aristocracy, modern science and technology, sustainable development, ethics, human rights, democracy, and if indigenous and youth cultures are included, multiculturalism and environmentalism. (See EASTERN PHILOSOPHY) (MP)

WESTERNIZATION: The process of a country’s culture becoming more like Western culture, often in particular reference to the globalization of commercialism and consumerism epitomized by Coca Cola and McDonalds. Westernization is often counteracted by the affirmation of culture called indigenization. Westernization is a different process from modernization. (See INDIGENIZATION, MODERNIZATION, WESTERN CIVILIZATION) (MP)

WFP: World Food Programme.

WHALES: Cetaceans along with DOLPHINS (q.v.). In all, 39 species in 17 genera. Sea mammals including the largest animal (the female blue whale) even known on the Earth. Whale numbers have been drastically reduced by over-hunting in the nineteenth and twentieth century. Today, many traditional whaling countries no longer hunt whales but some species are still in serious decline due to deaths from collisions with ships. (See WHALING). (MR)

WHALING: because of man’s greed whale stocks in many parts of the world have become severely reduced with some species having been brought close to extinction. The International Whaling Commission (IWC) was set up in 1945 to regulate a stable whaling industry but its record has been poor. A good example is the Australian humpback whale fishery which became uneconomic by 1963 because of overfishing off the continent’s east and west coasts - not only because of the large number taken by Australian land stations, but also because whales from the same stocks were also taken off their Antarctic feeding grounds. Calculations showed that greater than 300-400 animals off each coast each year was unsustainable, yet catches of over 1,000 animals from one stock were consistently taken each year. However, through improvements in scientific knowledge, more agreement among whaling nations, the appointment of international observers and the protection of many species, the IWC has indicated its willingness to regulate according to the principles of sustained management. Much emotional stress has been generated over the argument whether whaling should continue or not. One opinion is that under no circumstances should such intelligent, highly evolved mammals be killed for commerce. The contrary view is that stocks that can withstand fishing should be harvested on a scientifically controlled basis. The ethical and economic views are often voiced together, so that confusion occurs, particularly when the ethical argument is used as justification for the IWC to regulate against whaling. A decision should first be made as to whether whales should be killed at all; if the answer is yes, then their killing must be regulated, and the whaling commission is currently the only international body capable of such regulation (see SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT, WHALES). (IP)



WILDERNESS: A large remote area such as old-growth forest in which genetic diversity and natural cycles remain essentially intact and uninterrupted. More than National Parks, wilderness areas should have public access restricted to help preserve these designated examples of undisturbed ecological systems. (See NATURAL HERITAGE) (MP)

WILDLIFE: Often interpreted colloquially to mean natural animals, wildlife more correctly means the collective non-domesticated animals and plants of any habitat. (See WILDLIFE CORRIDORS) (MP)

WILDLIFE CORRIDORS: Wide strips of vegetation retained as linkages between isolated patches of forest habitat. Wildlife corridors are essential to increase migration and foraging routes and allow genetic exchange, helping alleviate the biodiversity impacts of habitat fragmentation. Wildlife corridors also provide aesthetic values to intervening suburban landscapes. (See HABITAT FRAGMENTATION) (MP)

WILD-TYPE: An organism isolated from nature.

WILSON, EDWARD O. Coined the term "sociobiology". Author. Biophilia (Cambridge: Harvard University Press 1984). On Human Nature (Harvard University Press 1987).

WILSON, JAMES Q. Author The Moral Sense (Harvard University Press 1985).

WIND ENERGY: Wind power uses the force of the wind to drive energy-producing turbines that are based on the designs of traditional windmills. Windmills can be used to either generate electricity or do mechanical work. (See RENEWABLE ENERGY) (MP)

WIPO: World Intellectual Property Organization.




WOMEN’S BUSINESS: Australian Aboriginal concept in regard to female cultural life, or to secrets of female initiates only. The first initiation is a ceremony which marks the beginning of life as an adult and establishes a young woman’s responsibility to their family and group. Their ceremonies prepare them for the responsibilities of love, marriage and motherhood and they begin to learn the spiritual secrets of women, especially those relating to childbirth, food cycles and ways to increase the Earth’s food and shelter resources. The initiates are marked by a permanent sign on the body to demonstrate that they are now responsible adults. As for "men's business" women’s business can be regarded as the Aboriginal equivalent of Latin provisions Mens legis - the mind of the law; that is, the purpose, spirit, or intention of a law or the law generally, and Mens legislatoris - the intention of the law-maker. (See MEN’S BUSINESS, TOTEMISM). (IP)


WORK: 1. Employment and weekly occupation, work should be fulfilling, pleasurable and sustainable. (See WORKAHOLIC) 2. Physics: Work is force multiplied by distance (W=Fs), a measure of change of energy. For example, work, measured in the Newton meter or Joule, is done with transfer from electrical to kinetic energy. (See EMPLOYMENT, ENERGY, HUMAN RESOURCES) (MP)

WORKAHOLIC: A person who is addicted to work, often working obsessively or seemingly constantly. Warning signs suggested by Workaholics Anonymous include working more than 40 hours per week, missing or taking work on vacations or weekends, and talking or thinking about work more than any other subject. The workaholic suffers physical and psychological stress as well as strain on family and social life. (See KAROSHI, WORKAHOLISM) (MP)

WORKAHOLISM: A modern affliction referring to the increasing pressure on workers to perform, such that work becomes the overriding drive controlling a person’s life. Today’s modern technology and corporate pressure reinforces workaholism to the point where it is often almost expected as the norm. E-mail has collapsed the time for work requests to virtually nothing, and wireless technologies such as mobile phones have allowed work to intrude into our lives 24 hours and 7 days. (See KAROSHI, WORKAHOLIC) (MP)

Share with your friends:
1   ...   51   52   53   54   55   56   57   58   59

The database is protected by copyright © 2019
send message

    Main page