We are now finding ourselves faced with choices about the sort of environment that we want to live in. The main choice is whether to start working with nature, by understanding and working with its natural cycles, or to carry on working against it. The future of all the people in the world, and of the world itself, depends on the choices that we make today.
Today, man’s pressure on the natural world is causing a worldwide environmental crisis. Below are some of the main problems that we now face, along with some actions that we could take to improve the situation.
► Sort these titles out according to the actions:
1 Soil Erosion 5 Rainforest Destruction
2 Acid Rain and Other Pollution 6 Desertification
3 Destruction of Habitats and Wildlife 7 The Greenhouse Effect
4 The Wasting of Our Natural Resources 8 Ozone Depletion
● Organic farming – organic matter retains water longer and binds the soil better, preventing it drying up and blowing away.
● Reforms in land ownership in rainforest countries – to take the pressure off rainforest land.
● Pollution filters on power stations and motor vehicles.
● Less dependency on export crops in the poor world (these are grown on the best land, forcing poor people onto the more sparse land which soon turns to desert).
● More and larger wildlife parks in towns and countryside.
● A complete ban on the production and use of chlorofluorocarbons (as soon as it is practically possible).
● Recycling of essential minerals.
1.17 Read the text “Acid Rains” and find the correct answer.
Every year more and more plants and animals disappear never to be seen again. Strangely, it is the most intelligent but most thoughtless animal that is causing most of the problems – man. Nature is very carefully balanced and if this balance is disturbed, animals can disappear alarmingly fast. Every day, thousands of species of animals draw closer to extinction. There are countless numbers of species which may become extinct before they are even discovered.
In many lakes the fish are dying. Fishermen are worried because every year there are fewer fish and some lakes have no fish at all. Scientists are beginning to get worried too. What is killing the fish?
The problem is acid rain. Acid rain is a kind of air pollution. It is caused by factories that burn coal or oil or gas. These factories send smoke high into the air. The wind often carries the smoke far from the factories. Some of the harmful substances in the smoke may come down with the rain hundreds of miles away.
The rain in many places isn’t natural and clean any more. It’s full of acid chemicals. When it falls in lakes, it changes them too. The lakes become more acidic. Acid water is like vinegar or lemon juice. It hurts when it gets in your eyes. It also kills the plants and animals that usually live in lake water. That is why the fish are dying in lakes.
But dead fish may be just the beginning of the problem. Scientists are finding other effects of acid rain. In some large areas trees are dying. Not just one tree here and there, but whole forests. At first scientists couldn’t understand why. There were no bugs or diseases in these trees. The weather was not dry. But now they think that the rain was the cause. Acid rain is making the earth more acidic in these areas. Some kinds of trees cannot live in the soil that is very acidic.
Now scientists are also beginning to study the effects of acid rain on larger animals. For example, they believe that some deer in Poland are less healthy because of acid rain. If deer are hurt by the rain, what about people? This is the question many people are beginning to ask. No one knows the answer yet. But it is an important question for us all.
1 This passage is about
a) fishing b) acid rain
c) air pollution d) destructive human activity
2 Every year thousands of species of animals
a) are hunted for their meat and skins b) migrate to other places
c) starve to death d) die out
3 Acid rain is caused by
a) natural gas b) the ozone layer depletion
c) acidic lake water d) emissions of industrial enterprises
4 Which of the following is true?
a) Dead fish in lakes is the only problem caused by acid rains.
b) Scientists are sure that acid rains are not harmful for mankind.
c) If we don’t make an attempt to stop acid rains we may never see some animals again.
d) There’s no reason to worry about several trees that died of some unknown disease.
5 What was not mentioned in the text?
a) Acid rain is capable of dissolving some rocks and stones.
b) Fish are unable to live in the water containing acid.
c) Coal, oil or gas form dangerous combinations after being burnt.
d) Scientists reckon that if some larger animals can be affected by acid rains, people may be in great danger.
6 Factory smoke
a) stays over the factories b) is usually clean now
c) turns into air d) can travel hundreds of miles
7 Scientists think acid rain
a) is killing people b) helps kill bugs
c) fertilizes the soil d) is killing trees
8 The word bug in this context means
a) an infectious disease b) a small insect
c) a dangerous bird d) a small animal
1.18 Match the words to form compound nouns.
Model: greenhouse effect
1.19 Fill in the gaps with one of the compound nouns from exercise 1.18.
1 Global warming is caused by the …….., the result of an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide and other gases in the Earth’s atmosphere.
2 Environmentalists have been protesting at the construction of a new nuclear …….. on the outskirts of the city.
3 Wildlife enthusiasts have called for the area to be made a …….. in order to protect the rare species of the butterfly which live there.
4 …….. are responsible for a great deal of the pollution in our cities.
5 The huge …….. is moving slowly towards Ireland, and several miles of coastline are under threat.
6 Protection or conservation of …….. is now more important than ever.
7 Efforts are being undertaken throughout the world to make agriculture …….. .
1.20 Read the text “Preserving the Environment” carefully and check your understanding in exercise 1.21.