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Экология After nearly 50 years of groundbreaking natural history broadcasting, David Attenborough takes stock of the state of the planet and assesses why the Earth needs our help.
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State of the Planet

Back to Nature


· The Most Urgent Environmental Problems

· The Problem of Pollution

· Global Warming: Blessing or Curse


1. Which problems are considered to be global? Name and rank them.

2. Environmental problems are in the list of global ones. Name different environmental problems and try to characterize them. Make up a web of environmental problems and try to analyze the relations among their different aspects.

3. Do we know much about the environment? Can we say that we are environmentally-conscious?

2.Study Unit 38 ‘Environment and Conservation’in the book ‘English Vocabulary in Use – Advanced’ by Michael McCarthy and Felicity O’Dell (Cambridge University Press, 2002) and translate the sentences.

1. Одна из худших возможностей развития событий это то, что миллионы людей погибнут от инфекций, от которых ещё не придуманы вакцины.

2. Демографические прогнозы предполагают, что к 2050 году населœение мира достигнет 9 миллиардов.

3. Большой объём продажи нефти Россией не может не истощать запасы природных ресурсов.

4. Россия вынуждена активно заниматься геологической разведкой (geological prospecting) в Сибири, так как старые месторождения нефти и газа истощатся через 50 лет.

5. Все проблемы окружающей среды – выдумки пессимистически настроенной части населœения. Οʜᴎ боятся будущего и хотят запугать остальных. Или будут иметь выгоду от распространения сценариев судного дня.

6. Я не думаю, что российские депутаты будут активизировать свою деятельность (to stir up), давая обещания заботиться о природе. Хотя проблемы охраны природы действительно являются насущными, наше населœение в большинстве своём не настолько озабочено ими, чтобы депутаты всœерьёз включали эти вопросы в свои предвыборные программы.

7. России нужна федеральная программа защиты окружающей среды, так как всœе наши усилия бессистемны и неэффективны.

8. В случае если мы не будем следовать политике устойчивого развития, планете грозит задохнуться от перенаселœения, заторов на дорогах и всœех видов загрязнений.

3.Read the text “The state of the Planet” and do the follow-up.

BBC NEWS, Sunday, 4th January, 2004

A.Pollution can be local or widespread. Substances dumped into a river will often end up in the sea. The biggest pollution problem is global warming. This happens when greenhouse gases, such as CO are released into the atmosphere, trapping heat and causing the planet to warm up. Since species are adapted to particular climates, when the Earth warms up they have to move to keep comfortable. This can be difficult if natural habitats are isolated by human settlements and agriculture.

B.Chemical pollutants have been responsible for affecting the reproductive organs of fish, alligators and polar bears, preventing them from producing babies. Chemical pollution in the environment also affects humans - 46 US states have issued warnings against eating local fish because of dioxin contamination, and in Europe, human breast milk passes on more dioxin to our babies than is legally allowed for cow’s milk. Despite this, the amount of pesticide sprayed on our crops around the world has increased 26 times in the last 50 years.

C.Species living in water are often most strongly affected because water spreads pollution easier than land, and because we often dump our pollution into water. Global warming will affect every species on Earth to some extent, and although some species will thrive in warmer climates, many will not. Coral reefs have already been very hard hit by climate change, and polar bears have received the double-whammy of climate change and chemical pollution.

D.Most human activities produce some waste products, but it is important to make sure that we have as little pollution as possible. Many people are switching to “clean technology”. That means having the same benefits from our modern life-style without the pollution. Electric cars, environmentally sensitive washing powders and solar-powered energy are examples. Less pollution is not only good for wildlife and nature - human health benefits from less pollution as well. That means lower medical bills, and a better quality of life.

E.Every living thing needs a place to live, find food, and reproduce. When we take over natural areas for our own use, we take away those areas for other living creatures. Habitat loss is the greatest threat to the natural world. We are taking over habitat at an alarming rate to provide ourselves with homes and agriculture as well as resources from forests, and other natural areas. All habitat-types are affected by human activity to different extents. Around half of the forests that once covered the Earth are now gone. Although forests can recover, and even be harvested sustainably, the rate of loss is 10 times higher than the rate of regrowth. Around 60% of Europe’s wetlands are damaged even though they are often essential for providing clean drinking water.

F.Recent estimates suggest that at least 120 out of 620 living primate species (apes, monkeys, lemurs and others) will go extinct in the wild in the next 10 to 20 years, at current rates of habitat loss. Large animals are often hit hardest by loss of habitat because they need large areas in which to have a healthy breeding population. Examples include tigers, mountain gorillas, pandas, Indian lions, tropical orchids and spotted owls. The only species not truly affected by habitat loss are those which benefit from human activity, such as cockroaches, rats and house-finches.

G.We are to become more sensitive to where we go about our business as well as how. Everyone needs space and that includes the other creatures of this planet. Restoring damaged habitats is also an important step. Allow forests to regrow, clean up rivers, lakes and seas, and help to protect what still remains. There are things to be done at all levels: from using less power and being more modest about the demands that we put on the environment; to not using CFC5; voting for the right politician, who you think is supporting these ideals; and giving a few pence, every now and again, to appeals. It’s about cherishing the woodland at the bottom of your garden or the stream that runs through it. It affects every aspect of life.