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Read the text and enumerate some of the environmental problems mentioned in it.
The protection of the environment is now the question of life or death on the Earth. There are many problems which threaten our natural environment. Water and soil pollution, the destruction of the ozone layer, acid rain, global warming, deforestation, oil spills, littering are among the most serious ones.
Every year the world’s industry pollutes the atmosphere with millions of tons of dust and other harmful substances. The seas and rivers are poisoned with industrial waste and poisonous chemicals. During many processes poisonous gases (carbon dioxide, for example) are released into the air. These gases destroy the ozone layer of the atmosphere. It is very dangerous, because this ozone layer protects the Earth against the space radiation which can be harmful to both people and wild nature.
Acid rain is found mostly in Europe and North America. These areas of the planet have the most cars and power stations, which produce harmful chemicals. These then go into the air and mix with the water in clouds to produce acid rain. The trouble begins when polluted rain falls as it damages plants and animals. In fact the fish in hundreds of lakes in Europe and North America have almost died out completely because of acid rain. Cities are also suffering from the effects of this powerful form of pollution. Acid rain can slowly eat away the stone on the outside walls of buildings, and historic monuments can be severely damaged.
Many species of animals are endangered because they are losing their natural habitat or their food is contaminated with pesticides which slowly kill them. Many animals suffer from illegal hunting.
Some man-made accidents threaten wildlife and the ecosystem. Although these accidents are relatively rare because of increased safety procedures, accidents still occur, sometimes with devastating effects. Examples include oil spills, radioactive leaks, tanker spills, pipeline bursts.
Water is precious but it is also a scarce resource that needs to be preserved for future generations. Sustainable use of it is therefore vital to enable future life of our planet. Water pollution is a growing problem globally. Large industries including those that make chemicals and plastics dump a large amount of waste into the water. Human waste and rubbish also end up in the oceans and lakes.
The mishandling of hazardous waste materials poses immediate and long-term risks to plants, animals, humans and the environment. Man-made chemicals released into the dirt either by accident or through poor disposal techniques cause soil contamination. Rupture of underground storage tanks, acid rain, leaching of hazardous waste from landfills, pesticides, and discharge from industrial chemical wastes all can contaminate the soil in which farmers grow crops or graze livestock that people eventually eat.
On the other hand, if the pollution is not stopped we’ll die out anyway. We must set up national parks, protect natural habitat of animals, introduce harsher punishments for poaching and reduce demand for fur, ivory etc. We must invent new, waste-free and nature-friendly technologies and encourage industries to use cleaner methods of production. We should educate the public about the importance of recycling and raise public awareness about endangered species. We must develop and produce special water and air purifiers and filters. There is an international organization called Green Peace which fights against pollution and protects our nature. There is a good formula of RRR. It is Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. We can reduce the usage of electricity and drinking water. We must make an effort to recycle such things as plastic bottles, metal, paper, glass.
The topic of environmental problems and their effective solutions is quite complicated and difficult to understand. It is, however, the attitude of human beings towards using the natural resources that is going to influence the environment to a great extent.
Find the answer to the questions from the text.
1. What environmental threats are mentioned in the text?
2. What causes them?
3. Why are they dangerous?
4. What should be done to improve the situation?
Match up the words from the text to make common collocations.
Discuss the following questions in the group.
1. What laws are adopted in Belarus to protect the environment?
2. Are there any educational programmes on TV in Belarus that educate people how to help our planet?
3. People in Belarus are concerned about the environment, aren’t they?
4. Are there many environmental groups in Belarus?
Read the text below and fill in the blanks in the text with the correct words from the table. There are some extra words.
Text C: Deforestation
Deforestation used to be something that few people apart from environmentalists talked about, but in the last twenty years or so, it has received increasing __(1)__ from governments and the media, and is now generally considered one of the world’s most serious environmental problems.
There is __(2)__ about how much forest has been disappearing, but few people doubt there is much less forest now than there was, say, fifty years ago.
Deforestation leads to the extinction of many __(3)__ of forest animals and the erosion of soil after trees have been removed, but the __(4)__ of deforestation that we hear most about is its contribution to global warming. Trees naturally absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from the Earth’s atmosphere, so __(5)__ trees mean higher levels of CO2. Many scientists estimate that about 20% of global warming is due to __(6)__.
Deforestation is taking place mostly in developing countries in tropical regions of Asia, Central and South __(7)__, Africa. Perhaps the most well-known case is the __(8)__ size of the huge Amazon rainforest in Brazil.
Many people around the world say that developing countries should do more to __(9)__ their forests – although the developing countries could point out that most of the world’s developed countries destroyed most of their own forests many centuries __(10)__.
In some cases, deforestation is caused by poor people who want to use the wood for fuel or to clear a small amount of land in order to grow __(11)__ for their families. In many cases, however, it happens because there are large profits to be made – for example, from selling the wood, or from growing crops, or raising animals on the land after the trees are gone. Products from __(12)___ land are often exported, so there is often a link between what people choose to buy in their local stores and what happens to forests in countries thousands of miles __(13)__.
Decide if the following statements are True or False? Say why?
1. Deforestation means the natural or intentional restocking of existing forests and woodlands that have been depleted.
2. Particularly hard hit are the rainforests in Australia and North America.
3. Swamps are viewed as the “lungs of the Earth”, playing a crucial role in the world’s oxygen balance.
4. Reforestation is caused by cutting down or burning of forests to clear land for agriculture, settlements, or other uses.
5. Typically, logging companies bulldoze the forests to extract timber, while landless farmers clear the land for farming and cattle grazing.
6. Coniferous forests are home to 80.000 species of plants and 20 million species of animals, many of which are now threatened with extinction.
7. Forests help protect the soil from erosion; without the protection of trees, exposed topsoil dries up and turns into desert.
8. More trees mean higher levels of CO2.
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