Recently more and more attention has been focused on the problem of preserving the environment. Over the past 30 years or so the quality of many people’s lives has deteriorated in some respects because of technological progress. Those people living near airports are constantly attacked by the noise of increasingly larger and more powerful jet aircraft taking off and landing. We have ugly buildings which have appeared in towns and cities. Some of these are blocks of flats-high-rise buildings built because of the high price of land.
The motor car has been responsible for many changes in the environment. On the one hand it has brought mobility to millions of people but on the other it has led to the construction of more noisy and dangerous roads and has polluted the atmosphere with exhaust fumes.
While towns and cities become larger and uglier and more densely populated, the rural areas have lost most of their population owing to the need for fewer workers in agriculture. The countryside has also been affected the large-scale use of insecticides. For one thing the killing of insects resulted in a loss of balance in the ecology. Insects, although a nuisance to farmers, provide food for birds. Many people are afraid that fruit and vegetables sprayed with chemicals may have some poisonous effect upon people who eat them.
Recently, however, certain counter measures against the destruction of the environment have been introduced. One of the first acts of Parliament to counter pollution was the Clean Air Act, which opened the way to smokeless zones in large towns and cities. This followed a bad winter in which many people with bronchial complaints became very ill through the effect of a mixture of smoke, fog and fumes known as ‘smog’. Rivers which are fouled up with industrial chemical waste are now being cleaned, and fish which could not live there a few years ago can be caught again.
The sharp increase in water pollution is alarming. The pollutants come mainly from municipal and industrial wastes and from agricultural land’s run-off. It is common knowledge that water pollution contributes greatly to an increase in the sickness rate among the population. A large majority of these cases are caused by the lack of clean water. Synthetic detergents present a great pollution danger. Unlike organic wastes they cannot be destroyed by bacterial action. As a result in some areas there is hardly a river or a lake which does not have a dangerous amount of detergents.
One cannot deny that environmental pollution is the most dangerous side effect of human activity. It is causing global changes in the environment and deterioration of the biosphere. The nature of the processes is not clear and the amount of damage is still uncertain because of the lack of sufficient information. The scientists who are now tackling the problem of the environmental protection represent such areas of knowledge as biology, ecology, chemistry, geography, physics, economics and the law.
1.21 1) Look at the first paragraph and explain the words and phrases:
● deteriorate ● in some respect ● increasing larger ● ugly
2) Look at paragraph 2 and say which words have the opposite meaning to:
● quiet ● safe
3) Look at paragraph 3 and say which words have the same meanings as:
● relating to the countryside ● farmland ● meal ● contaminating
4) Look at paragraphs 4 and 5 and answer the following questions:
● What does a smokeless zone mean?
● Who suffers from smog?
● What is alarming?
● Do you know the synonym of sickness?
5) Look at paragraph 6 and say whether these statements are correct or incorrect.
● Environmental problems are the result of people’s activities.
● Ecological problems are global and can’t be solved nowadays.
● The deterioration of the biosphere is the subject of biology.
1.22 Complete the questions using the words in the box. Use each word only once. There is one extra word you do not need to use.
who / where / which / whose / what / whom / how / when / why
HELP US HELP THE ENVIRONMENT
(1) …….. responsibility is it to look after the environment? Yours! And (2) …….. should you start? Right now is the answer! But (3) …….. is going to help you? We are! We are GreenWarriors, the environmental protest group, and we know the answers to all your questions. We’ve put together this factsheets to get you started.
(4) …….. me? We all have a responsibility to the world around us. Ordinary people like you can make a big difference.
(5) …….. can I make a difference? By recycling your paper, glass and plastic and by taking part in GreenWarrior demonstrations and protests in your area.
(6) ……..’s the first step? The first step is to come along to the Green Warrior offices and speak to one of our officers. They will let you know about the next protest in your area.
(7) …….. other organizations are you connected to? GreenWarriors is a completely independent protest organization.
(8) …….. is GreenWarriors based? We are a national organization, with our headquarters in Northampton.
1.23 Study the information about International Green Organizations. Some are campaign groups (spreading information and influencing public, business and government actions), whilst others are involved in conservation work (like creating, maintaining and improving natural sites).
Friends of the Earth (FOE) – campaigns for protection of wildlife and habitats, and improvement of the environment at local, national and international levels.
World-Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) (formerly World Wildlife Fund) – campaigns to protect wildlife and habitats throughout the world. Uses education to show the importance of the world’s natural resources.
Intermediate Technology – works on long-term development in poor countries, using technology appropriate to the needs of the rural poor. Aims to help people to become more self-reliant.
Greenpeace – uses peaceful but direct action to defend the environment. Campaigns to: save the whales, oppose nuclear power and weapons, stop acid rain and protect Antarctica.
Oxfam – involved in practical, long-term improvement of agriculture, health-care and social conditions in poor countries, as well as giving vital short-term emergency aid where and when it is needed most.
Survival International – campaigns to protect surviving native peoples and the environments in which they live. Publicizes the risks to native peoples, and campaigns for their basic human rights around the world.
Green Politics. Many people believe that we must all make major changes in the way we live our lives if we are going to save the planet and ourselves from a harsh and difficult future. This view is put forward by ‘green’ political parties all over the world, many of which are represented in their national parliaments. The West German green party (die Grünen), for example, increased their number of seats from 27 to 42 (out of 520) in the 1997 elections.
The green parties claim to offer an alternative to the usual political choices of the left, the centre or the right. They propose such things as a fairer sharing of the world’s resources between rich and poor nations, and have far-sighted plans for the rebuilding of a new and better society. They believe that all governments should place people, the environment and the quality of life at the top of their list of priorities when making policy decisions.
► Read the text “Greenpeace – Saving the Whales”. Fill the gaps with the correct word from the list: