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LESSON FORTY-ONE HERE!
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In today’s lesson, entitled Sustainable Living, you will hear a passage about the “ecological” and “carbon” footprints we all leave on the planet just by going about the business of daily living. You will also learn why pet dogs … well, you’ll see in a few minutes. For now, listen carefully to the passage and then answer the questions that follow. It’s always a good idea to take notes as you listen, but remember: don’t let your note-taking distract you from your listening.
Listen and Learn
Lesson Forty-One PASSAGE ONLY track:
We’ve all heard the arguments for “going green” and leading a more sustainable lifestyle. We’ve been told repeatedly that sustainable living entails creating lifestyle habits that help keep the earth’s natural ecology in balance, and some of us are doing as we’re told. We’re walking or riding a bicycle to work or school instead of driving a car. Or we’re eating less meat or only buying locally grown organic foods. Some of us are even living “off the grid.” Instead of relying on municipal water, gas, and electric services, we are striving to become as autonomous and self-sufficient as possible.
But most of us could be doing a lot more. Everything we do in our daily lives consumes resources and produces waste. And with the world’s population growing at an alarming rate, there’s even more consumption, more waste. One way to measure human demand on nature is to calculate our “ecological footprint,” the amount of land needed to replace the natural resources we use. The U.N. reports that mankind’s aggregate ecological footprint currently stands at 1.4 times the entire planet. In other words, we consume raw materials at a rate 1.4 times faster than Mother Earth can renew them. And Americans consume more than anyone—way more. If everyone started living like Americans, humanity would soon have to seriously begin looking for other planets to colonize. One Earth wouldn’t be enough.
The “carbon footprint” is one component of the ecological footprint. It measures the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (the primary cause of global warming) released into the atmosphere through human activity. For example, driving a car six kilometers or running a computer for 32 hours emits one kilogram of CO2. In 2012, nearly 35 billion metric tons of CO2 were emitted globally—averaging out to four tons per person. Mind you, this is a global average: huge discrepancies exist depending on location and income level. A person living in Zambia, say, emits just 0.2 tons a year: Americans are accountable for a whopping 17 tons. Scientists warn that to curb climate change and save the planet, we must achieve a global average carbon footprint of just two tons per person—not later, but right now.
So how can families reduce their environmental impact? Recycling and reducing energy use are a start. Cutting back on fast foods—producing a single cheeseburger emits 3.1 kilograms of CO2 into the atmosphere—would also help. But a recent book entitled Time to Eat the Dog? The Real Guide to Sustainable Living names pet dogs as one of the most “eco-unfriendly” culprits. Get this: Feeding a meat-based diet to a medium-sized dog for one year leaves roughly the same ecological footprint as an adult living in the Dominican Republic—or driving an SUV 20,000 kilometers.
Animal lovers aren’t likely to forsake their pets for the sake of the environment. But by feeding the family dog scraps and leftovers rather than store-bought dog food, we can help offset Fido’s damage. Better yet, we can change our choice of pet. Smaller pets like hamsters, canaries, and goldfish have very little ecological impact and fit in nicely with the sustainable lifestyle we all know we should be living.
LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS
Listen to Listen and Learn: Lesson Forty-One: LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS track:
Today’s listening comprehension questions are of various types. Listen to each question carefully and mark your answer. Feel free to pause the recording if you need a moment or two to think about the question.
1. Write a full-sentence answer to this question.
What does living a sustainable lifestyle entail?
2. Choose the best answer to this question.
What does going “off the grid” mean?
a) Going off the grid means eating less meat and buying only locally grown organic foods.
b) Going off the grid means becoming more self-sufficient without relying on municipal services.
c) Going off the grid means giving up using technology altogether.
d) Going off the grid means becoming homeless and living on the street.
3. Decide if this sentence is true or false.
An “ecological footprint” measures the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere through human activity.
4. Write a brief answer to this question.
What, according to the article, is the primary cause of global warming?
5. Decide if this sentence is true or false.
Driving a car six kilometers emits the same amount of carbon dioxide as using a computer for 32 hours.
6. Complete this statement.
Every year, the average American __________________________.
a) emits nearly 35 billion metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere
b) leaves about the same carbon footprint as the average Zambian
c) leaves a carbon footprint more than four times that of the global average
d) emits roughly four tons of CO2 into the atmosphere
7. Write a full-sentence answer to this question.
To curb climate change and save the planet, what do scientists say is the maximum amount of CO2 each person can emit?
8. Complete this statement.
Producing a single cheeseburger _________________________.
a) leaves roughly one kilogram of carbon footprint
b) leaves the same carbon footprint as does a person living in the Dominican Republic in one year
c) emits more CO2 into the atmosphere than a medium-sized dog
d) emits 3.1 kilograms of CO2 into the atmosphere
9. Write a brief answer to this question.
Which causes more damage to the environment, feeding a medium-sized pet dog a meat-based diet for one year or driving an SUV 20,000 kilometers?
10. Write a full-sentence answer to this question.
What pets are suggested for animal lovers who would like to lead a more sustainable lifestyle?
LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS and ANSWERS HERE!
You may also download the lesson in PDF format to keep for your reference.
KA WORDCAST: Listen and Learn! Lesson Forty-One
KEY VOCABULARY WORDS
Be sure to listen to the Key Vocabulary bonus track. This will help you improve your understanding of the passage itself and give your vocabulary a big boost.
We’ve been told repeatedly that sustainable living ENTAILS creating lifestyle habits that help keep the earth’s natural ecology in balance, and some of us are doing as we’re told.
ENTAIL is a verb that means to be a necessary part of something that we want or need to do. Involve, require, call for, mean, and demand are some near synonyms.
Before you sign up for this elective English course, you should know that it ENTAILS reading twenty 19th-century novels and writing a weekly critical essay.
Because this project ENTAILS a great deal of research, you have three weeks to complete it.
Chandler’s daily routine ENTAILS driving his three children to three different schools—before he goes to work—and then picking them all up again in the evening.
A trip from England to New Zealand ENTAILS a number of layovers and takes the better part of a day.
Some of us are even living “off the grid.” Instead of relying on municipal water, gas, and electric services, we are striving to become as AUTONOMOUS and self-sufficient as possible.
AUTONOMOUS is an adjective that means having the freedom to act independently or being able to do things and make decisions without help from other people. Self-sufficient, free, and self-reliant can be used as synonyms depending on the context and situation.
Our school’s aim is to help pupils become AUTONOMOUS, enthusiastic learners.
Even though I’d like my children to grow up to be AUTONOMOUS, the Mom part of me wants them to depend on me forever.
An AUTONOMOUS country, region, or organization is able to govern itself and control its own affairs. The closest synonym for this usage is self-governing.
Perhaps America would be better off divided up into several states, with each state having its own AUTONOMOUS government.
Today’s editorial points out how vital it is for the country’s judicial system to remain AUTONOMOUS so that it can operate free from political influence.
The noun form is AUTONOMY, by the way, and is used like this:
Once again, the country’s citizens voted against AUTONOMY and for remaining a part of the commonwealth.
The “carbon footprint” is one COMPONENT of the ecological footprint.
A COMPONENT is a part or element of a larger whole. It can be used to refer to the actual physical parts of a machine or appliance, say, or more figuratively to talk about the parts of a process. Piece, unit, feature, and ingredient are some near equivalents.
All our cars’ COMPONENTS are manufactured by different suppliers across Europe and then assembled in our factory in Newcastle.
These days, nearly every COMPONENT in home audio and video systems is manufactured in Japan.
Sentences contain various COMPONENTS, including the subject, predicate, object, conjunctions and prepositional phrases, and dependent and independent clauses.
A key COMPONENT of this investigation is determining where and how the stolen electronics entered our country.
“Innovation has been a huge part of our company’s history,” the company’s CEO stated during the annual meeting. “And it will be a key COMPONENT of our future.”
For example, driving a car six kilometers or running a computer for 32 hours EMITS one kilogram of CO2.
To EMIT means to send out something such as light, heat, sound, gas, or a signal. Today, EMIT is most often used, as it is in this lesson’s passage, to talk about the environment in general and about fossil fuels and global warming in particular. But it also has various other uses, as the sentences below show. Release, discharge, give out or off, and radiate can be used in place of EMIT.
China EMITTED more than two billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere last year, up 7.5 percent from the previous year.
Did you know that some breeds of frog EMIT a loud screech when they are attacked?
Hot stars EMIT more radiation and light than cooler stars.
When burned, sodium EMITS a brilliant yellow flame.
The noun form of EMIT is EMISSION. These days, EMISSION is most often used in the plural form, EMISSIONS, to refer to pollution (including noise, heat, gas, and radiation) that is discharged into the atmosphere by cars, homes, businesses, and factories.
Many people are switching to electric cars because they produce next-to-no environment-damaging EMISSIONS.
Our university recently “went solar” and is now producing less than 10% of the EMISSIONS it did a year ago.
Animal lovers aren’t likely to FORSAKE their pets for the sake of the environment.
In the above sentence, FORSAKE means to stop doing something or to leave a place that you enjoy or love. Give up, renounce, and turn one’s back on are some near equivalents. Some informal synonyms and phrases include ditch, scrap, and junk.
I decided to FORSAKE my plans for a large Sweet Sixteen birthday party and opted for a small family meal at my parents’ favorite Chinese restaurant.
Caroline FORSOOK the hustle and glamor of the city and is now living nearly “off the grid” in a small cabin in Montana.
When you join the military, you are asked to FORSAKE your own needs for the needs of your country.
In addition to daily yoga and meditation, weight-challenged children who attend our fitness camp will be asked to FORSAKE bread and pasta as well as sweets and soft drinks.
FORSAKE also means to leave someone or something, especially when you have the responsibility to stay. Abandon and desert are some synonyms for this usage.
Who would have thought that a devoted family man like Benson would ever FORSAKE his wife and children and decide to become a priest?
In their wedding vows, the couple promised to never FORSAKE each other.
Mariko has never regretted FORSAKING her marriage and family to dedicate her life to running a medical clinic in Haiti.
But by feeding dogs scraps and leftovers rather than store-bought dog food, we can OFFSET Fido’s damage.
In the passage, OFFSET is a verb. It means to use one cost, payment, or situation to cancel out or reduce the effect of another. Balance out, neutralize, compensate, and make up for are some good substitutes.
We’ll have to raise tuition costs by 3% next year to OFFSET the increase in teacher salaries.
The money raised in this year’s school Read-a-Thon event has happily OFFSET the cost of renovating the library.
Kieran’s lack of height and stroke strength is somehow OFFSET by his speed, agility, and effort on the tennis court.
Mona’s acting skill and her compelling screen presence more than OFFSET her rather plain looks and have made her a much sought-after character actor.