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Unit 6 The Nature We Live In

Unit 6 The Nature We Live In
I. Warm-up Ice-Storm Numbers Tell Chilling Tale In January 1998, three successive storms dropped more than 4 inches of freezing rain in areas of New England and southern Canada. About 100,000 people had to take refuge in shelters, while the Red Cross raised more than $10 million to help the victims. The ice brought down more than 1,000 power transmission towers and 30,000 wooden utility poles. Nearly 1.7 million customers lost their electricity, in some areas for weeks. More than one-third of all farmland in the region was affected. Nearly 5.3 million sugar-maple trees were in the path of the storm, and it may take 30 to 40 years for maple syrup production to return to normal. The hardest hit were dairy farmers, as nearly one-quarter of Canada's cows were subjected to the storm. The ones that survived may never reach their previous level of production. Furthermore, 2.5 million gallons of milk, valued at more than $5 million, had to be dumped because there was no electricity.

II. Listening for content

1. Listening to a conversation Andrew McTagger is the director of a zoo located in a large North American city. In this interview he explains the type of work that is done in today's zoos. Tony: I'm Tony Brown from the local newspaper. Now, what was the purpose of the first modern zoos? Andrew: Well, those zoos were the only places where people could really see wild animals. Tony: And today that's changed, right? Andrew: Well, on the one hand, zoos are still the places for people to see live wild animals up close. Seeing an animal touches people, especially young people. Most zoos today have great educational exhibits. On the other hand, now we can watch TV programmes about animals living in the wild. Tony: Do you think zoos are good places for wild animals to live in? Andrew: Well, in some cases, yes. You see, we can build better cages, or enclosures, for the animals. In the bear's enclosure, for example, we recreate the forest with different kinds of plants, tree trunks, rocks, and waterfalls. Tony: Do you think the animal feel as if it were right at home?

Andrew: No, probably not, but we try to do as much as possible. We create places where they can be private and hide away from people. We put in big rocks with spaces to crawl into, or trees to go behind. Tony: What is the most important job for today's zoos? Andrew: Conservation work. Tony: What do you mean by that, saving animals? Andrew: Exactly. We can help animals endangered in the wild to reproduce safely in zoos. Then we can return these animals to the wild. Tony: Is this an important job for zoos? Andrew: It's very important. Don't forget it's estimated that about 200 to 300 animals in the wild become extinct every year, and that number is increasing rapidly. I think zoos play an important part in saving animals from extinction. This is the future role of zoos.

2. Listening to a passage A Law to Help Protect Endangered Species Many species are now in danger of becoming extinct. Among the threats to endangered species are businesses that buy and sell animals for their skin and other parts. Unfortunately, the people who run these businesses are not discouraged by fines. They simply see it as just another business expense. A better way to control the problem would be to force whoever is caught buying or selling products made from endangered species to perform community service.

Their community service should require work that helps protect the animals they are harming. Such a law could be quite effective. If people trafficking in illegal animal products were forced to help endangered species, they might understand how destructive their business is. Also, their community service tasks would turn them into helpers rather than destroyers. In the process of fulfilling tasks, they will see the importance of protecting the animals. Some might argue that community service would not be an effective way to protect endangered species because it would not really convince people to abandon a profitable business. However, community service would be much more effective than fines alone. Paying a fine is as easy as writing a check, but doing community service reveals your responsibility and obligation as a citizen. We must do whatever we can to save all species so that the complex web of life is protected. For this reason, we need stronger, more effective penalties such as the one I am proposing.

3. Listening to English News Acid Rain Damage from acid rain is 1) widespread not just in eastern North America, but throughout Europe, Japan, China, and Southeast Asia. Is the rain that's 2) falling on your umbrella acidic? A listener's question on today's "Earth and Sky".

JB: This is "Earth and Sky", with a question from Sandra Renee of Olive Hill, Kentucky. She asks, "How do you know when it rains that it's not acid rain, and what 3) exactly is acid rain?" DB: Sandra, you need a pH meter 4) to reliably measure the acidity of rain or snow. But in certain parts of the US—especially in the Northeast—you can probably 5) assume that most rain will be at least somewhat acidic. Westerly winds move 6) pollutants eastward, so the eastern US gets more acid rain. JB: Acid rain happens when airborne acids fall down to earth in rain. 7) Electrical utility plants that burn fossil fuels emit chemicals into the atmosphere that 8) react with water and other chemicals in the air to form sulfuric acid, nitric acid—the "acid" in acid rain. You don't have to live next door to a power plant 9) to get showered by acid rain. These acid pollutants reach high into the atmosphere and can travel 10) with wind currents for hundreds of kilometers. DB: The acids in acid rain are corrosive chemicals that 11) leach nutrients from the soils, slow the growth of trees, poison lakes and 12) combine with other chemicals to form urban smog. The simplest way to curtail acid rain is to use less energy 13) from fossil fuels. JB: Special thanks today to the Camille & Henry Dreyfus Foundation, a private foundation 14) dedicated to advancing research and education in the chemical sciences. We're Block and Byrd for "Earth and Sky".

III. Follow-Up

1. Listening to short conversations 1. W: Did you know that we waste hundreds of gallons of water every day, simply because people don't turn off their taps properly? M: The problem is that people can't see that by turning off their taps, or switching off a light in their house, they are saving gallons of water and hundreds of trees. Q: What is mainly talked about in this dialogue?

2. M: I think government should do whatever is necessary to create more wild animal preserves. They should raise money through environmental awareness campaigns. W: Maybe people could make voluntary contributions when they file their taxes. M: That's a good idea. That way whoever wants to contribute can, but it's not obligatory. Q: What does the man mean?

3. W: I heard about the tornado on the radio in Texas.

M: Was it as bad as the one in Louisiana? W: It was much worse. A hundred people were killed. M: That's twice as many people. Q: What do we know about the tornado in Louisiana?

4. W: I sincerely feel that animals should not be used for research purpose. M: I don't really agree. I seriously doubt that medical research could be done without animals. W: We seem to be in a dilemma to decide what to do, protect the environment or develop the medical science? Q: What attitude does the man hold towards using animals for research purposes?

5. W: Scientists say that water pollution is the biggest problem in the environment. M: Do you believe that? W: Well, scientists base their statements on studies, don't they? What do you think is the biggest problem? M: Air pollution, because they're always talking about it in the news, aren't they? W: True, but can you always believe what they say in the news? Q: What can be inferred from the conversation?

2. Listening to a longer conversation Tilings You Can Do to Help the Environment Steve: Our environment is in trouble. People and industries are polluting the air, rivers, lakes and seas. It seems that we can do nothing to help. What do you think, Helen? Helen: No. That's not true, Steve. In fact, there are many things we can do. Steve: For example? Helen: We can walk, bicycle or use public transportation to work instead of driving. If it is really necessary to drive a car, drive at a steady speed, because burning gasoline is one of the biggest sources of carbon monoxide in the atmosphere. Steve: Yes, it is believed that carbon monoxide is causing global warming. It thins the ozone layer, which protects us from the sun's rays. Helen: Right. I would tell the same story. The thinner ozone layer means a lot more radiation, disastrous to human beings and nature. Steve: Then, what else can we do? Helen: A lot. Generally, try not to use disposable products. Believe it or not, in a single year, people in the United States use enough disposable diapers to reach to the moon and back seven times. Steve: Oh, no! That causes great damage to the forests. The shrinkage of forests adds to environmental pollution.

Helen: Definitely. So everybody should do their best to help reduce pollution in our daily life. For instance, showers use a lot of water. Have you heard that a typical American family uses as much water as a person drinks in three years! Steve: Incredible! I'll have to do something to cut my water usage. Helen: Good for you. Just go and buy a special "low-flow" shower head and don't forget to fix any leaky faucets.

3. Listening to a passage

NYC Dims Lights to Save Birds New York City may be the very definition of a man-made environment, but the place is also teeming with nature. For example, Manhattan lies directly in the flight path of hundreds of thousands of birds as they migrate south in the autumn and north in the spring. However, the concrete and glass canyons of New York and other cities also pose a danger to birds, especially when cloudy nights force them to fly low. Reflection of trees in a glass building appears as a forest to birds. The birds act as if they are attempting to reach their natural habitat, so they are deceived. Birds are usually drawn to skyscrapers in the first place because of their exterior and office lighting. They were programmed over millions of years to pick up certain cues from the environment, like the stars or the moon. That

probably has to do with their navigational system. There had never been lights lighting up the skies before, so in a very short time period relative to their evolution all these new sources of light evolved. Their navigational system gets kind of confused. That causes the birds to start circling the lights. When that happens, they start losing precious energy which they need for migration. Birds are killed by flying into glass buildings. Efforts are being made to deal with the problem. The managers of buildings over 40 storeys high are encouraged to help the migrating birds by dimming the decorative lights on the outside of their buildings, and to dim their office lights or use blinds, so that the buildings become less reflective and prevent the birds from flying into them.

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