The hottest summer ever and climate change in the UK. That’s the topic for today’s English listening practice lesson. Here’s a great video-podcast that explains the concept of climate change and talks about the hottest UK summer ever. Let me know if you have questions. I’m always happy to help! You don’t have to learn English from boring text books. Learn English by listening to topics that you want to engage with.
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We’re currently breaking temperature records here in the UK. In this lesson, you’ll hear some interesting facts and figures. Learn a lot about how us British deal with heatwaves and discover some ideas people have for helping reduce climate change. All of this will help you with English listening comprehension, which is one thing that IELTS examiners like to test candidates on and something you will need to master if you want to speak English fluently.
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Concept Topical Climate Temperature Greenhouse Industrial
Hi there. Today I'm going to talk about something very topical. We've had huge hot temperatures in the UK in the last couple of weeks and all across Europe. How does this relate to climate change? So I'm gonna talk through an idea to help with climate change and you're gonna get some wonderful vocabulary that's very topical, will help you in conversation and also will be good for those of you who are faced with doing IELTS tests or other English language tests and exams. So some great vocabulary today, some interesting statistics and an idea about climate change as well as great English listening practice.
Hello, I’m Hilary, and you’re listening to Adept English. We will help you to speak English fluently. All you have to do is listen. So start listening now and find out how it works.
So last week in the UK and across Europe, we had extremely hot temperatures, record breaking temperatures actually. That means the highest temperatures that we have recorded before. So 40 degrees in the UK. When it's hot in the UK, we don't have air conditioning, we don't have swimming pools in our gardens, so we just get very hot! That heat was all across Europe and there are many countries in Europe who are battling serious wildfires as a result of those high temperatures.
So the UK Met Office or Meteorological Office, to give it its full title - that's M E T E O R O L O G I C A L. I'll do that again. M E T E O R O L O G I C A L - the Meteorological Office. Basically the people who do the weather in the UK. Well, they were commenting that climate change and the rise in temperature across the world makes this type of weather 10 times more likely in their estimation.
How much climate change has there been? Well, apparently since pre-industrial times there has been a one degree Celsius rise. It doesn't sound very much, but its implications are great.
That rise doesn't sound a lot, but that one degree Celsius does make a difference. And of course, as we know, the problem is CO2 or carbon dioxide emissions.
We've got the highest levels of CO2 in our atmosphere because of the burning of fossil fuels. So that's coal, oil and gas.
This gets trapped in our atmosphere and gives us the so-called 'greenhouse effect', which has a 'heating effect' on world temperatures. A 'greenhouse' that's G R E E N H O U S E - that is a glasshouse. And it's what we might use in our gardens to grow plants. So it's necessarily hotter inside the greenhouse than it is outside.
Hence we call it the 'greenhouse effect', this global warming effect.
A large greenhouse full of plants. Learn more about us and how we deal with heatwaves and climate change in today's English listening practice lesson.
So what climate targets have we set? Well, the UN target is to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius higher than those pre-industrial levels. So the levels before widespread industry arrived in many parts of the world. This 1.5 degree Celsius limit was arrived at in the 2015 Paris agreement.
However, to achieve that those carbon emissions need to stop rising right now and start falling by 2025. That's not very long, is it? And those are ambitious targets. It's estimated also that emissions need to halve by 2030. Again, that's just seven and a half years away - also sou nding ambitious that target. But even more ambitious, we are asked to be at 'net zero' by 2050.
'Net zero' means that as much carbon is being removed from the atmosphere as we are emitting, as is being generated. How easy is that to achieve? Well, it looks pretty impossible at the moment. It's estimated that in 2021, CO2 emissions actually went up by 6%, despite a global pandemic. So we really aren't doing enough yet to bring down those CO2 emissions. We have massive challenges on our hands here.
There was another big UN conference in Glasgow last year in 2021, and other promises were made. Other targets were talked about. It was estimated that if governments honour their promises, we will be still looking at a 2.4 Celsius temperature increase by the year 2100. So although these targets are ambitious, it's still going to get a lot hotter. And those sorts of 40 degree Celsius temperatures that we saw over the last couple of weeks are going to become more commonplace.
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So if we need to get to 'net zero' by 2050, so we need to be not emitting any more carbon than is soaked up, than is reabsorbed, than is 'taken back in', then we've got to change what we're doing. One way of doing this is to try to bring down the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. How might we do that?
Well, we can reduce the amount of CO2 by perhaps planting more trees. Stay with me. This is a different idea, perhaps.
Planting more trees would help our planet absorb more CO2.
Trees and forests absorb carbon dioxide through their process of photosynthesis. I suspect 'photosynthesis' is probably the same word in your language. It's P H O T O S Y N T H E S I S - 'photosynthesis'. It's what plants and trees do. And basically they act as 'stores' for carbon dioxide. So when you look at the burning of fossil fuels, what we're doing is releasing long-held carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. But trees and plants and bushes take it in and effectively, the earth can become a long-term store for carbon dioxide.
So having more plants and trees would help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. That's logical, isn't it?
It's not such a crazy idea this because in 2019, NASA conducted a study into this idea. There's a link in the transcript if you're interested in reading more about the study. Basically, they concluded that if we were to plant trees so that there were 25% more forested areas, 25% more forests across the world, that would be half a trillion trees. So a trillion T R I L L I O N. Or in other words, 2.2 billion acres more trees across the world that would have an effect. How much effect? Well, it would remove the last 20 years of carbon emissions. That doesn't sound like as much as you might hope - the last 20 years of carbon emissions.
Another statistic they gave, because it's difficult to imagine such an effect - it's difficult to quantify? They said that 25% more forest would reduce the carbon in the atmosphere by about 25%. In other words, 25% more trees in the world would remove about half the carbon that's been produced since 1960. That sounds a bit more encouraging.
Planting that many trees sounds to be a huge effort. But one other idea, which is of interest. If you leave areas of land untouched for a period of time in locations where trees grow anyway, then trees and forests do naturally regenerate.
I notice that near to where we live, there is an area of land, which was cleared several years ago. All the vegetation, the plants, the bushes, the trees were removed. I don't know who did that because I don't know who owns the land. But having done that, they didn't do anything else. The land has just been left and actually there are now quite large trees and bushes and plants covering this piece of ground. So nature has regenerated.
So we may not actually need to plant this half a trillion trees. We might be able to let some of it happen naturally.
Given the right conditions, nature will regenerate and indeed in this NASA report, It does give the example of how land in Africa is being protected so that it can naturally regenerate and trees will start to grow again and cover the land once again.
One of the challenges is though that it takes trees a while to grow. So it can be up to a hundred years before an area of forest reaches maturity and reaches its peak at absorbing carbon dioxide. The trees need to be big enough to make a difference. And enough of them. Obviously this depends on the climate that you're in and the type of tree that you're planting or allowing to regrow, regenerate.
Some tree types and some areas can be more carbon- absorbing than others.
Another potential problem with all of this, if we're going to free up the land to enable more trees to grow, how does that match with the need to produce more food? So one of the reasons why deforestation, the removal of trees has occurred is forests get cleared in order to create ground, land, to plant crops on. There's a lot of us on the planet and we need feeding. And that's another problem.
So trees are taken down not only for their wood, but to enable the planting of crops and the grazing of animals.
I think here, we're gonna have to look at the way we use land and what we eat and look at more intensive types of farming food. Things that are more ecologically sustainable than current farming practices.
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25% more forest does sound doable. And although it would be a huge effort and use a lot of land, it does mean a significant reduction in carbon dioxide. It would have a positive effect. But of course it's not enough on its own. We can't just carry on as we are with our carbon emissions.
We still need to change the way that we live, but planting trees is an idea worth looking at, I think.
Let us know what you think. Let us know whether you found this topic interesting, and whether it helped increase your English language vocabulary.
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
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