Climate Change

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climate changeClimate Change is a lesson that provides students with the opportunity to consider why we worry so much about climate change and what are the consequences if we don’t act now. This lesson is centred around the theme Sharing the Planet from the IB Language B curriculum which considers the challenges and opportunities faced by individuals and communities in the modern world. In this lesson, we will practice our listening and reading skills by learning if it is possible to reverse the effect of climate change.

Exercise 1Exercise 2Exercise 3Word ListExtension
What causes climate change (also known as global warming)? And what are the effects of climate change? Learn the human impact and consequences of climate change for the environment, and our lives. Name four consequences suggested in the video that climate change can impact on.

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Answers
1. our oceans
2. our weather
3. our food sources
4. our health

Transcript of the causes and effects of climate change.

Human activities from pollution to overpopulation are driving up the earth’s temperature and fundamentally changing the world around us. The main cause is a phenomenon known as the greenhouse effect gases in the atmosphere such as water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbons let the sun’s light in but keep some of the heat from escaping. Like the glass walls of a greenhouse, the more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere the more heat gets trapped strengthening the greenhouse effect and increasing the earth’s temperature.

Human activities like the burning of fossil fuels have increased the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere by more than a third since the Industrial Revolution. The rapid increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has warmed the planet at an alarming rate. While Earth’s climate has fluctuated in the past atmospheric carbon dioxide hasn’t reached today’s levels in hundreds of thousands of years.

Climate change has consequences for our oceans, our weather, our food sources and our health ice sheets such as Greenland and Antarctica are melting the extra water that was once held in glaciers causes sea levels to rise and spills out of the oceans flooding coastal regions. Warmer temperatures also make weather more extreme this means not only more intense major storms floods and heavy snowfall but also longer and more frequent droughts.

These changes in weather pose challenges growing crops becomes more difficult the areas where plants and animals can live shift and water supplies are diminished. In addition to creating new agricultural challenges, climate change can directly affect people’s physical health in urban areas. The warmer atmosphere creates an environment that traps and increases the amount of smog this is because smog contains ozone particles which increase rapidly at higher temperatures exposure to higher levels of smog can cause health problems such as asthma, heart disease and lung cancer. While the rapid rate of climate change is caused by humans.

Humans are also the ones who can combat it if we work to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources like solar and wind which don’t produce greenhouse gas emissions we might still be able to prevent some of the worst effects of climate change.

Canadian author and social activist Naomi Klein recorded a message for Development and Peace’s campaign Create a Climate of Change on why the time to act is now! What does she want to be reformed?

Click here to view transcript and answers

Answers
1. a better food system
2. a land reform system
3. polluters paying for the damage caused

Transcript

I think the most important thing that we need to be doing is build a bigger stronger more passionate movement. The forces that we are up against that don’t want action. They want to protect business as usual are tremendously motivated. They are motivated by trillions of dollars of wealth that is on the line and then we need to keep about three quarters of the known fossil fuel reserves in the ground. That’s many trillions of dollars.

The task is to articulate a vision for a post-carbon economy that is better than the economy we have right now for the vast majority of people on earth. That will tangibly improve lives. We need a food system that nourishes us at every level and that it also implies land reform and these are things that are going to tangibly benefit people’s lives.

Canada’s emissions are 30 per cent over what they should be under the commitments we made under the Kyoto Protocol which is why we quit the Kyoto Protocol. We see that emissions are going up on a national level and that’s because our government is skinning the Alberta Tar sands and digging up you know highest carbon fuel on the planet.

So we’re gonna change our lifestyle and that’s not just about sacrifice because actually that’s gonna lead to a more fulfilling life, but at the same time we are going to demand that this be a justice-based transition, and that means that polluters have to change and they also have to pay. They have to help pay for this transition away from fossil fuels towards a post-carbon economy.

So, I think in Canada it’s a delicate balance because we do have to make those changes to our lifestyle but we absolutely have to be fighting for the policy changes that are going to go after the big polluters at the same time

Read the article about how climate change is affecting Britain. Then answer the questions at the bottom.

Much of the world is in the grip of a heatwave. Britain is so hot and dry that we have Indonesia-style peat fires raging across our moorlands. Montreal posted its highest temperature ever, with the deaths of 33 people in Quebec attributed to the scorching heat. And if you think that’s hot and dangerous, the town of Quriyat in Oman never went below a frightening 42.6C for a full 24 hours in June, almost certainly a global record. While many people love a bit of sun, extreme heat is deadly. But are these sweltering temperatures just a freak event, or part of an ominous trend we need to prepare for?

Earth’s climate system has always produced occasional extreme weather events, both warm and cold. What is different about now is that extra short-term warmth – from the jet stream being further north than usual – is adding to the long-term trend of rising global temperatures. The warming trend is very clear: the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show that all 18 years of the 21st century are among the 19 warmest on record, and 2016 was the warmest year ever recorded. Overall global surface air temperatures have risen by 1C since the industrial revolution. It is therefore no surprise that temperature records are being broken. And we can expect this to become a feature of future summers.

The long-term warming trend is driven by the release of greenhouse gases, chiefly carbon dioxide. Many alternative causes have been tested by scientists: the effects of sunspots, volcanic eruptions and other natural events. Only greenhouse gas emissions, dominated by fossil fuel use, explain the warming over the past century. This understanding isn’t just retrospective: 30 years ago this summer, climate scientist James Hansen told a US Senate committee that the climate was changing and fossil fuels were the main culprit. He made headlines worldwide with predictions that if emissions continued our planet would continue to warm, which it inexorably has.

Today’s heatwave is not related, as some have suggested, to the every-few-years shift of Pacific Ocean currents that affects global weather patterns, known as El Niño. A new modest-sized El Niño is predicted for later this year but is not yet detectable. Today’s heatwave is what is expected as Earth moves to an ever warmer state. But it is worth watching the news for the coming El Niño later this year: if it turns out to be a large event, next summer could bring more extremely hot weather. And beyond that, as the climate warms, summer heatwaves will escalate in their severity.

So what is to be done? The amount of warming we see is directly related to the cumulative emissions of carbon dioxide. Stopping warming requires moving to zero emissions of carbon dioxide. Despite the Paris agreement on climate change being designed to do exactly that, progress has been slow. Today 80% of world energy use is from fossil fuels. While the share of renewables is rising rapidly, so is energy use, meaning that globally, carbon emissions are flatlining, not declining. Commitments made so far under the Paris agreement show that we are on track for an additional 2C warming this century. Such large and rapid change will make it very difficult for societies to cope.

We will therefore also need to adapt. There is a lot we can do. At an individual level, we can cool our homes by keeping the curtains and windows shut on the sunny side of our house during the day to slow the rate at which it heats up, and then open windows at night to cool it down. We also need to keep a close eye on the very young and very old because they cannot regulate their temperatures very well and suffer most in the heat. The major 2003 European heatwave killed 70,000 mostly older people. Changes to social care, for example, to attend to the needs of people who are vulnerable to high temperatures, can help avoid such death tolls in the future.

Beyond this, many aspects of society will require deep and difficult changes, including to our own mindsets. In the summers of the future, particularly in the south of England, we will regularly live in Mediterranean-type conditions. Adapting our national infrastructure, particularly around maintaining our water supplies, updating our housing stock as it is built to retain heat, and altering how we manage our land to avoid further catastrophic fires, will all be required. It is under-appreciated that climate change will transform the very fabric of the experience of living in the UK.

This coming new reality is not high on the political agenda. Climate change is a greater threat to the UK than EU directives, terrorism or a foreign power invading. Yet the scope of our political discussion on future threats is limited to Brexit and spending on defence. Instead of this blinkered view where the future is the same as the past, we need to step out of the intense heat and take a cool look at what we are doing to our home planet.

The development of farming and the rise of civilisations occurred within a 10,000-year window of unusually stable environmental conditions. Those stable interglacial conditions are over. Human actions are driving Earth to a hot new super-interglacial state. What scientists call the Anthropocene epoch, this unstable time is a new chapter of history. Today’s heat is a forewarning of far worse to come. To live well in this new world needs political action to catch up with this changing reality. Fast.

This heatwave is just the start. Britain has to adapt to climate change, fast by Simon Lewis

 

1. List two pieces of evidence from the text of extreme heat.

2. Which word in the first two paragraphs is used to indicate the dangers of extreme heat?

3. Which of the following is the most distinctive feature of the current climate trend?

4. What does 'this' refer at the end of paragraph 2?

5. Which word in paragraph 3 or 4 is similar in meaning to 'directed to the past'?

6. What is the cause of global warming over the last century?

7. Despite the rapid rising of renewable energy sources, what is the reason that carbon emissions are not declining?

8. Why do very young and very old people suffer most in the heat?

9. Which of the following is not one of the things we must change to cope with the warming trend?

 

10. Which words or phrases go in the gaps. Choose the following words: experience, impact, political, communal, liberal, despite, although, owing to, cope, handle

The text discusses the  (a) of climate change and the severity of it. The writer predicts that extra short-term warmth such as a heatwave will continuously add to the long-term trend of rising global temperature in the future. (b) the rapid increase of renewable energy sources, carbon emissions are not declining due to increasing energy use. The writer urges us to take action at an individual level as well as at a (c) level to (d) with this changing reality.


 

Here are the words and phrases covered in this lesson about climate change:

  • asthma
  • atmosphere
  • carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • causes and consequences
  • chlorofluorocarbons
  • climate change
  • emissions
  • fossil fuel reserves
  • greenhouse effect
  • Industrial Revolution
  • health problem
  • heatwaves
  • methane
  • nitrous oxide
  • ominous trend
  • overpopulation
  • phenomenon
  • policy changes
  • post-carbon economy
  • smog
  • scorching heat
You realize your government is not making enough effort to tackle climate change. As a concerned citizen, write a letter to your Prime Minister / President / Head of State. In the letter, explain the severity of climate change and suggest solutions to stabilize rising global temperatures. You believe that we require social responsibility and collective action to tackle the issue.  Use the following checklist:

  • Formal register
  • Clear paragraphs
  • Serious tone
  • Progression of your ideas.
We add activities and exercises regularly on various themes, so why not bookmark our site, so you can come back to practice anywhere or at any time of the day.

This topic provides students with an opportunity to discover their interests, values, belief and culture.

This topic provides students with an opportunity to consider how events which take place impact an individual's life.

This topic provides students with an opportunity to explore the sciences, technology and creativity.

This topic provides students with an opportunity to explore the way in which groups of people organise themselves through common systems or interests.

This topic provides students with an opportunity to look at the challenges and opportunities faced by individuals and communities in the modern world.

Here you will find exercise to practice for the different sections of IB English B examination for either the Standard (SL) or Higher Level (HL) papers.
Learning English requires not just a good vocabulary, but a strong foundation of English grammar to communicate effectively.

Word puzzles require not just a good vocabulary and a knack for spelling, but the ability to think logically and strategically.
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