Theme 19: Environment

Part 1-style questions

Examiner: Are there any environmental problems in your country?
Kelly: Yes … we have a serious issue with pollution levels in some of our big cities …  exhaust fumes from cars and lorries are definitely one reason for the problem but we also have a lot of heavy industry in some areas and this also results in poor air quality  …

Examiner: Do you take an interest in nature?
Jenny: Well … I’m a city person through and through and don’t get back to nature very often I’m afraid … but like everyone else I’m fascinated by the natural world and I like watching documentaries showing wild animals in their natural habitat …

Examiner: Do you or your family take steps to help the environment?
Mira: My parents have always tried to make us aware of our impact on the environment…  they’re really into energy conservation … and always try to buy environmentally friendlyproducts if they have the chance …

Part 2-style task

Describe an environmental problem that has been in the news.  You should say

  • when this was
  • where the event happened
  • what actually took place

and say how you felt about this problem.

Martin:  Well … this is an interesting question … there are so many issues I could think of … natural disasters like earthquakes and floods seem to be in the news almost every year … but there was one story recently about some animals that were under threat … it wasn’t focused on one place in particular … it was looking at various animals that could actually become extinct in different African countries … if we don’t take steps to protect them … these were really iconic animals like gorillas … leopards … rhinos … and apparently they’re now listed as endangered species …  what made it really depressing was they were in danger thanks to us … in some cases it was due to a loss of habitat either because people need more agricultural production … or even worse I think … because of hunting and poaching … I hate to think of future generations being robbed of the chance to see creatures like these in their natural environment … it’s lucky we have lots of organisations that focus on wildlife conservation … hopefully with their help we can put pressure on those in power to do something to stop creatures like these dying out …

Part 3-style questions

Examiner:  What do you think is the main danger the world faces in terms of the environment?
Spencer: Well … climate change is a real issue … in my country we have flash floods and heatwaves on a yearly basis … so yes … I think global warming is the biggest issue.

Examiner: What examples are there of how we damage the natural world?
Stella: There are so many examples … there are factories that empty toxic waste into rivers and oceans … oil spills that damage the coastline …  the way we destroy vast areas of land and rain forests in search of fossil fuels or to increase agricultural production …

Examiner: In which ways do we respond well to environmental problems?
Mathius: Well … on the one hand there are various worldwide agencies that are always the first on the scene with humanitarian aid  after  natural  and man-made disasters … and on the other hand we have environmental pressure groups that are constantly raising awareness of issues and trying to stop disasters happening …

Definitions

  • air quality: the cleanliness of the air we breathe
  • to become extinct: to no longer exist
  • to be under threat: to be in danger of becoming extinct
  • climate change: the change in worldwide weather patterns
  • to die out: see ‘to become extinct’
  • endangered species: categories of animals or plants that are in danger of becoming extinct
  • energy conservation: the careful management of energy resources to ensure they last as long as possible
  • environmentally friendly: behaviour and products that do not harm the environment
  • exhaust fumes: the toxic gases given off by vehicles powered by petrol
  • flash floods: floods that happen quickly
  • fossil fuels: energy resources like gas and oil that are produced deep below the ground over millions of years
  • future generations: the people who live after us
  • to get back to nature: to live a life that is closer to nature
  • global warming: the increasing temperature of the world brought about by gases such as carbon dioxide
  • heavy industry: the manufacture of heavy articles and materials in large numbers
  • humanitarian aid: the act of showing support to people struggling to survive
  • impact on: the effect on
  • loss of habitat: the decline in areas of land where animals and plants would normally exist
  • man-made disaster: widespread damage or loss of life brought about by the action of humans
  • natural disaster: an event such as an earthquake,  flood or hurricane which causes widespread damage or loss of life
  • natural environment: the place where animals and plants would normally be found in nature
  • the natural world: the world of nature
  • oil spill: waste usually deposited in the seas and oceans after an accident at sea
  • poaching: to hunt and kill wild animals illegally
  • pollution levels: the amount of toxic waste
  • pressure group: a group of people who try to raise awareness of issues and try to affect the views and actions of people and organisations
  • toxic waste: poisonous, unwanted rubbish often produced by industrial processes
  • wildlife conservation: to protect animals and plants and their habitats