Sustainable Development Glossary – O

Join a Smart Word! We know how frustrating it can be to read an interesting article on sustainable development and not knowing certain terms. Finding a concise definition on internet can take some time. At the YMP we want to make your reading and learning easier with our Sustainable Development Glossary A-Z.


Is the term that you look for missing in the list below? Let us know in a comment at the end of this page. We will add that term for you!

optimise – Make optimal; get the most out of; use best.


ore – A mineral that contains metal that is valuable enough to be mined.


organic fertilizers – Plant fertilizers that come directly from natural sources, as opposed to inorganic, man-made fertilizers. Organic fertilizers include rock phosphate, greensand, animal manures, kelp, wood ashes, bone meal, blood meal, etc.


Osprey – A large hawk found worldwide that feeds on fish and builds a bulky nest often occupied for years, also called the fish-eagle, or fishing hawk.


outputs – (results, products) The quantity of goods produced by something.


overall – (complete, thorough, comprehensive) (1) Including everything or the total. (2) Taking everything into account.


overall life-cycle – The complete life-cycle of a product or service.


oxidation – (decay) (1) The process of combining with oxygen. (2) The physical and chemical changes a substance experiences as it ages over time.


oxygen (02) – A gaseous chemical element that is essential for all aerobic respiration. It has atomic weight 16.00 and atomic number of 8. On earth, oxygen is the most abundant of the chemical elements, comprising a fifth of the atmosphere as O2, almost 90 percent of the oceans as H2O, and almost 50 percent of the Earth’s crust as metal oxides and silicates.


ozone –  A gas which is a variety of oxygen. The oxygen gas found in the air consists of two oxygen atoms stuck together; this is molecular oxygen. Ozone consists of three oxygen atoms stuck together into an ozone molecule. Ozone occurs in nature; it produces the sharp smell you notice near a lightning strike. High concentrations of ozone gas are found in a layer of the atmosphere – the stratosphere – high above the earth and it shields the earth against harmful rays from the sun. It is also the main component of smog.


ozone depletion – Destruction of the stratospheric ozone layer which shields the earth from ultraviolet radiation harmful to life. This destruction of ozone is caused by the breakdown of certain chlorine and/or bromine containing compounds (chlorofluorocarbons), which break down when they reach the stratosphere and then catalytically destroy ozone molecules.


ozone layer – A layer of the Earth’s atmosphere containing gaseous ozone (03). It overlaps the lower levels of the mesosphere and the upper stratosphere. This layer absorbs the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation.


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