The theme for the next two weeks will be the environment and climate change. As an introduction to this theme I want you to watch this short TED talk and answer the following questions. (If the link doesn't work go to youtube and type in Ted Talk Al Gore Climate Change)

By how much has the arctic ice cap shrunk?
What does the ice cap do in the winter and the summer?
What is trapped beneath the ice sheet which is being released as the cap melts?
What is the single biggest cause of climate change?
What percentage does deforestation make up of climate change?
The term 'clean coal' is described as what by Al Gore?
The Alliance for Climate Protection has launched 2 campaigns against using fossil fuels as a resource.
How are these ads effective? What techniques do they use in order to grab peoples' attention?
What does 'Re-Power America' plan to do?
What are they advocating and why?
What's the old African proverb the Al Gore mentions and how does he relate it to climate change?


What are the problems of bottled water?
How have manufacturers convinced people to buy bottled water?
What solutions are suggested?

plastic recycling

listen and note the main points

How many plastic bags are used worldwide every year?
What problem is discussed?
What solution is being implemented? Where?
What effects are they hoping for?

Summarise the main ideas (50-100 words)
useful vocabulary: campaign, biodegradable, compulsory, financial levy, landfill sites

watch: plastic in the oceans
What problem is discussed?
What research is being done? Where?
What solutions have been implemented?
What can you do to reduce pollution?

external image garbage.patch_.jpg

population explosion

listen and summarise

vocabulary to be used in summary: explosion, defining challenge, estimated, billion, 2075, technological solutions, waste, refigeration, transportation, consumption

watch: Plastic Recycling

watch this lecture and note the following:
What point is made about 'stuff'? Why?
How are plastics and metals contrasted as far as recycling?
What are some of the problems with plastic recycling and who's affected?
What solution is described? What are the steps in the plastic recycling process?
What are the advantages of recycling plastics?

external image plastic_recycling_process.jpg

read/watch-news story 25/10/2011

Here's an unusual source of pollution:
What is it?
Where has it come from?
Where is it headed?
How long will it take to get there?



What is the connection between these two pictures?
external image greenhouse.jpgexternal image global_warming.jpg

listening/reading on global warming

check out the current carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere:
note any key information

listen: Arctic Ice Melts
What has happened to the Arctic sea ice this year?
What have scientists found that is even more dramatic than the melting of the ice?
How does this phenomenon effect the environment? More specifically, how does it relate to the greenhouse effect?
How do the changes compare with the predictions?
Do the changes only affect the southern hemisphere?

How about these?
the carbon cycle
the carbon cycle
the Amazon
the Amazon

external image oxygen_cycle_color72.jpg
external image photosynthesis.jpg


solar energy

external image Solar_Kids.jpg

external image wind1.gif


check out the language practice page for practice with the passive and relative clauses


Hydraulic Fracturing FAQs

How does hydraulic fracturing work?

Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is a means of natural gas extraction employed in deep natural gas well drilling. Once a well is drilled, millions of gallons of water, sand and proprietary chemicals are injected, under high pressure, into a well. The pressure fractures the shale and props open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well.

How deep do natural gas wells go?

The average well is up to 8,000 feet deep. The depth of drinking water aquifers is about 1,000 feet. The problems typically stem from poor cement well casings that leak natural gas as well as fracking fluid into water wells.

How much water is used during the fracking process?

Generally 1-8 million gallons of water may be used to frack a well. A well may be fracked up to 18 times.

What fluids are used in the fracking process?

For each frack, 80-300 tons of chemicals may be used. Presently, the natural gas industry does not have to disclose the chemicals used, but scientists have identified volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene.

In what form does the natural gas come out of the well?

The gas comes up wet in produced water and has to be separated from the wastewater on the surface. Only 30-50% of the water is typically recovered from a well. This wastewater can be highly toxic.

What is done with the wastewater?

Evaporators evaporate off VOCs and condensate tanks steam off VOCs, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The wastewater is then trucked to water treatment facilities.

What is a well's potential to cause air pollution?

As the VOCs are evaporated and come into contact with diesel exhaust from trucks and generators at the well site, ground level ozone is produced. Ozone plumes can travel up to 250 miles.

Watch and answer the questions (you only need to watch the first three minutes):

useful vocabulary: moratorium, carcinogen, neurotoxin
What is the purpose of the video?
What do the gas companies want to do?
How many gas wells do they want to install?
How many people's drinking water could be affected? Where?
How does the process work?
What are the negative effects of the process?

Extra research:

What was the outcome of the hearing?
Has gas drilling/hydraulic fracturing happened anywhere else in the US? Australia? the World?

Here's a good website with information on fracking:
external image Nat-gas-fracking-around-the-world.jpg

giving and responding to opinions

Milan bans cars to reduce pollution

listen/read this story then join the discussion (see discussion page)

quarter life crisis

listen and summarise

vocabulary to be used in summary: crisis, depressed, recapture their youth, fear of, anxious, status conscious, debt, unaffordable rents, competitive job market, 35, 25