Vocabulary: That’s environmental issues for you!


Read the following text, paying extra attention to the words and phrases in bold. You are more likely to remember words if they are from the same lexical field and in context. You can listen to the text for convenience.

Most of us are well aware of the fact that we are facing the threat of global warming, which will have long-lasting consequences for our planet. We will have to deal with such issues as rising water-levels in the oceans, the greenhouse effect, air pollution, acid rain, carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere, and waste that contaminates our water systems. We are polluting our environment by using such fossil fuels as coal and oil, yet so-called cleaner options such as nuclear power stations produce waste that will remain radioactive practically forever. Freons will weaken the ozone layer permanently and that, in turn, will cause changes in the biosphere. As a result, more and more species will face extinction, many of which are plants that could provide a cure for a number of diseases. Poachers are wiping out certain endangered species, such as the rhinoceros, for pure vanity; rhino horn is used to make decorative knife handles or ground into a powder and used as a male aphrodisiac. The illegal animal and fur trade must be stopped otherwise species such as the cheetah and the leopard will no longer be found in the wild. The illegal logging that occurs in some continents will send complex eco-systems into decline. Yet irreparable damage is also being done to the oceans, where over-fishing not only depletes fish stocks but also threatens other species, such as the dolphins which get caught up in tuna nets. Many pesticides used on crops are non-biodegradable and remain in the soil.  Intensive farming will also have catastrophic effects on the soil. Ancient forests along with rain forests are victims of clear-cutting. The resulting deforestation will cause erosion and destruction of habitat, making the land uninhabitable for numerous species of flora and fauna. Short-sighted businessmen are only after a quick profit at any cost. We are leaving behind us a legacy of destruction for the generations to come. What we should do before it’s too late is switch to renewable and sustainable energy. Recycling is something that we can all practise on a daily basis. Instead of filling up our cars with petrol every week we must start using environmentally friendly transport, such as electric buses and trams. Renewable energy resources such as solar and wind power should be our preferred power source. At the same time, consumers should demand more ozone-friendly products. Organic farming will save the water systems from eutrophication, while nature reserves and sanctuaries for rare species must be established in order to preserve and conserve unspoilt areas. We can start planting trees in areas that have fallen victim to the practice of wood-conversion. If nothing is done we may be hastening our own demise along with that of other species as pollutants are even having an effect on hereditary factors. The offspring of certain species of lizard are losing their ability to reproduce, as their descendants are all of the same sex. Perhaps that will also be the destiny of Homo sapiens, the wise man, or not-so-wise man as the case may be.