Itís a wonderful world we live in. For thousands of years the Earth has given support to all forms of life Ė human beings, animals, birds, fishes, insects and plants.
But now human beings are killing our planet.
Many species of animals and birds have disappeared. Millions of animals die every year because man has polluted their natural homes. Besides, every year people cut down more trees, build more roads, and use more land for farming. This leaves fewer jungles, fields and forests for wildlife.
The country air, once clean and fresh, now may be polluted by power stations and factories. Some of our rivers are now empty of fish. And in some rivers you can even see thick foam caused by chemical waste.
All over the world the forests are disappearing. People cut the trees down because they need wood and paper or new places for farms and houses. Forests the size of Belgium are destroyed every year. Itís an international disaster. Even if new trees are planted, it takes many years for them to grow.
Go to the seaside and youíll see the pollution around you. There is a lot of litter on the beaches. Some of it was left by people and some was brought by the water.
Pollution is very dangerous for people, wildlife and the environment.
We live among litter and wastes which we have created ourselves Ė fumes of cars, throw away packaging, etc. People donít just pollute the environment. They pollute themselves with cigarettes, alcohol and junk food.
These are some of the worldís most serious environmental problems. And itís no good pretending they donít exist Ė they do. Whatís more, they are getting worse all the time! What will happen if we donít try to solve these problems? Scientists have made predictions and they are alarming.
Read and translate the text about urban ecological problems.
Ecological Problems of Big Cities and Small Towns
That the problem of environmental protection has become of universal concern is not a secret any more. Both big cities and small towns suffer from it.
Cleaning up air pollution is one of the main problems of today. Urban air pollution continues to expand as a result of the increased number of motor vehicles. Exhaust fumes from the engines of automobiles contain a number of polluting substances. Tokyo has such a serious air-pollution problem that oxygen is supplied to policemen who direct traffic at busy intersections. Milan, Ankara, Mexico City, and Buenos Aires face similar problems.
People also concern over the dangers resulting from massive releases of radioactive materials from nuclear weapons, which, if used on a major scale, could seriously endanger all of humanity. Another concern is accidents at nuclear power plants. In 1978 a nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania suffered a severe accident leading to partial meltdown of its radioactive core. In 1986 the Chernobyl nuclear power plant near Kiev suffered a fire and partial meltdown, resulting in a major release of radioactive particles. Much of northern and eastern Europe experienced heavy nuclear fallout. The runoff from broken-down tanks is the source of organic pollutants. Industries located along waterways downstream contribute a number of chemical pollutants, some of which are toxic. One form of pollution that is characteristic of industrial societies is noise.
Small towns have the same ecological problems. In particular, they also suffer from garbage and agricultural ecological problems, such as cattle manure, for example.
III. Discuss the following questions:
Does the environment belong principally to humans?
Do your consumption habits destroy the habitats of other species?
Do you think that developers should be permitted to build big hotels and tourist complexes in the most beautiful places in your country?
Should the private motorist pay more heavily through higher road tax, petrol prices, parking fees and motorway tolls?
Should cars be banned from city, town and village centres?
Are you for or against nuclear power?
Does your country need stricter laws to punish noisy neighbours or discos which play loud music late at night?
Are your country's seas, rivers and / or lakes clean to swim in?
What government and private campaigns are there in your country to protect and improve the environment? Are these campaigns motivated by concern for the lives and habitats of species other than our own?