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STEAM - science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics

Environmental issues

What are the main ecological problems in the world?

  • Air and water pollution?
  • Greenhouse effect?
  • Deforestation?
  • Animals and birds extinction?

All of these problems are very dangerous!

But why is water so important in our life?

  1. Water is a chemical substance that is made up of hydrogen and oxygen. Water covers 71% of the Earth’s surface but most of it is in the oceans. What is happening with the oceans?

Watch the video Plastics in Oceans: More Damaging Than Climate Change and try to indicate the main problems.

How can we save water?

What do You regularly practice to save water?

Here are some tips to follow. Read the text, understand the main ideas and use the tips in your  everyday life. Be ready to answer the questions on the text and previous video in the final quiz.

Water saving tips

Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth – this can save 6 liters of water per minute.

Place a cistern displacement device in your toilet cistern to reduce the volume of water used in each flush.

Take a shorter shower. Shower can use anything between 6 and 45 liters per minute.

Always use full loads in your washing machine and dishwasher – this cuts out unnecessary washes in between.

Fix a dripping tap. A dripping tap can waste 15 liters of water a day, or 5,500 liters of water a year.

Install a water butt to your drainpipe and use the water collected to water your plants, clean your car and wash your windows.

Water your garden with a watering can rather than a hosepipe.

Fill a jug with tap water and place this in your fridge. This will mean you do not have to leave the cold tap running for the water to run cold before you fill your glass.

Install a water meter.

Invest in water-efficient goods when you need to replace household products. You can now buy water-efficient showerheads, taps, toilets, washing machines, dishwashers and many other water-saving products.

You can save water by washing your vegetables in a bowl.

Save by washing dishes using a dishwasher less often.

  1. Do you like shopping? Do you think people in the 21st century buy more things than in the 18th century? Do people nowadays spend too much time on shopping? Why? Is shopping a source of pleasure? What is your consumer culture? Are you a shopaholic?

Really, today buying things became a source of pleasure. But before the 20th century only rich people could afford shopping. Ordinary people bought basic things that they really needed. Many people made things instead of buying them. And today as we buy a lot every day we consequently produce a lot of garbage and solid waste.

Read the text and be ready to answer the following questions:

  • What is a landfill?
  • What can we do to reduce the waste that we make?
  • Which waste causes the biggest problem?

 Solid Waste

Consumer culture causes a number of big problems. Perhaps the most serious is waste. Buying new things all the time creates a lot of waste, and part of this waste is the garbage that you throw in the trash can. That’s called “solid waste”, and people that live in a consumer culture make a very large amount of it.

How much solid waste do you make? Well, most of us throw away about 2 kilograms a day. That’s 14 kilograms a week, and 728 kilograms a year. When you multiply that by the number of people in your country, you can see how much we have to dispose of.

What do we do with our waste? In most countries, some is recycled, some is put in the ground, some is burnt, and some goes into the environment. It is this last kind of waste that causes the biggest problems. A large amount of waste gets into our rivers, and is carried to the ocean. The wind blows lots of waste into the ocean too. The waste causes a lot of problems for sea animals, and makes beaches look ugly and dirty.

We are also running out of places to put solid waste. Over the last hundred years we have created so many mountains of garbage that it is difficult to find new places to put them. Making special places for waste, called landfills is now very expensive.

The answer for the future is to make less waste. We can reduce our waste by buying less things, choosing products with less packaging, and recycling as much as possible. By doing this we are helping to protect our precious environment. Let’s do our best to reduce the waste that we make.

(Soo Kim, Ian Bosiak Reading Town 3, Student book p. 117)

Do you recycle? How much garbage do you think you make a week? – Think about those questions.

  1. How do cars pollute the air?

What are the effects of air pollution on a city?

 Read the text, learn the new words and be ready to answer the following questions:

  • Which is the most significant cause of air pollution?
  • What is wrong with the way cars are used in cities?
  • Why do our cities have dirty air?

 Why is the sky brown?

Have you ever wondered why the sky in your city is brown, when it should be blue? If you have, it isn’t surprising – air pollution is now a major issue in cities around the world. Have you also wondered why city air is brown, when country air isn’t? The answer to both questions is the huge number of motor vehicles that our cities contain.

The term “motor vehicle” includes cars, buses, and trucks. They cause pollution because nearly all of them are powered by oil. Oil contains lots of substances that aren’t very good for us, especially when you burn it. Major pollutants produced by burning oil include sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide. These pollutants hang in the air, which explains why city air is brown and country air isn’t. There are a lot more cars, buses, and trucks in the city.

Another reason why cities have so much pollution is the way that cars are used. The engines used in cars are actually quite clean and efficient when they have reached their correct operating temperature. Unfortunately, that is not how humans tend to use them. City dwellers make a lot of short trips, sometimes of less than 5 kilometers. The engines in their cars take 5 to 10 minutes to reach operating temperature. During this time, the engine uses much more fuel than usual. So, for much of a short journey, the motor vehicle is emitting a lot of extra pollution.

The other main reason that motor vehicles cause so much pollution in cities is traffic congestion. When traffic is congested, cars take a lot longer to reach their destination. The longer a car’s engine is running, the more pollution it produces, so it’s no surprise that our congested cities have dirty air.

The World Health Organization states that 2.4 million people die each year from air pollution, so it’s a very serious problem. Strikingly, more deaths per year are caused by air pollution than by automobile accidents. With motor vehicles being the most significant cause of air pollution, their presence in our cities has to be questioned. Why are we so in love with our motor vehicles?

(Soo Kim, Ian Bosiak Reading World 3, Student book p. 140-141)

Assignment after the lesson:

  1. To sum up the new ideas you have learnt, go through the presentation.
  2. How can you go green? Make a personal “green” list and send it to the teacher.
  3. Take a final quiz.
Please login to get access to the quiz
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Comment ( 1 )

  • It’s a wonderful and a very useful course! The language is so easy!There are so many interesting facts about the environment, our nature and pollution. I guess for my pupils it will be also interesting to take this course. The topic is close to everybody. The interface is quite all right. The structure is good.

Course Curriculum

Ekaterina Andreevna Danilova
Role : Teacher
  • Website :
  • Experience : Komi ACCESS program coordinator, ACCESS Summer schools Director, Inclusion project manager, Workshop Coach, University lecturer, STEAM teacher
  • Specialist in : Teaching English to children and young adults, training teachers of English in new technologies
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