KA WORDCAST: Listen and Learn LESSON FORTY-TWO: Seeds for Humanity

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In today’s lesson, entitled Seeds for Humanity, you will hear a passage about the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway where a group of scientists have been planning ahead against a possible “doomsday” future. 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.

Svalbard Seed VaultSeeds for Humanity

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Lesson Forty-Two PASSAGE ONLY track:

 

Heaven forbid, but what if a nuclear war, killer asteroid, or severe climate change destroyed all the wheat, maize, rice, and other crops we depend on for food? What would the survivors eat? These are the difficult questions that conservationists and scientists have been pondering for some time now, and the good news is, they have the answer. They have implemented a worst-case-scenario back-up plan—a deep-freeze safety-deposit box where thousands of seed samples can be stored … just in case.

Its name is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Constructed in 2008, the vault lies deep inside an Arctic mountain on a remote Norwegian island, about 1,300 kilometers from the North Pole. It stores and preserves a wide variety of plant seeds that are duplicate samples (“back-up copies”) of seeds held in seed banks around the world.

seed vault interiorThe vault’s seed samples are kept in custom-made, three-ply, foil packages, each containing 500 seeds. The packages are sealed, labeled, and stored in black boxes on shelves deep inside the vault, which is kept at -18 degrees Centigrade, the optimal temperature for keeping seeds viable for long periods of time.   Currently, the vault holds more than 860,000 samples of crop seeds—ranging from staple food items like maize and wheat to “salad stuff” like lettuce and tomatoes—from nearly every country in the world.   And there’s plenty of room for more: the vault has the capacity to store 4.5 million seed varieties, or up to 2.5 billion seeds.

Why was the vault located where it is? There are several pertinent reasons. The Svalbard archipelago area lacks tectonic activity, making it geographically stable. The combination of permafrost and thick rock also ensures that the seed samples will remain frozen, even if the power supply is cut off. The area is also so remote that its chances of ever coming under military attack are next to nil. Even if a bomb were to explode just outside the vault’s concrete entranceway, because the seeds are buried 120 meters deep inside the mountain, they would remain secure. And what if global warming were to melt the polar ice caps? The project managers and vault designers have planned for that, too. The vault entrance is 130 meters above sea level, comfortably above projections of how high the oceans could rise.

But the Svalbard vault isn’t there just to save mankind from going hungry after a major catastrophe. The system was put in place to handle more immediate contingencies, as well. For example, some time ago, the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas deposited 350 boxes of seeds in the vault. Then, earlier this year, the center withdrew the seeds because they were needed in the Middle East. Although the center has its own seed bank in Aleppo, Syria, officials fear that those samples, including ancient varieties of barley and chickpeas, could be damaged or destroyed during Syria’s current civil war. So center scientists hope to use the Svalbard samples to regenerate seed collections kept in banks in Lebanon and Morocco—as a back-up of a back-up … just in case.

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LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS

Listen to Listen and Learn: Lesson Forty-Two LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS track:

 

Today’s listening comprehension questions will be SHORT ANSWER and based on FACTUAL CONTENT and your ability to READ BETWEEN THE LINES. 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. In which country is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault located?

 

2. When was the Svalbard Global Seed Vault built?  

 

3. What is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault’s main function?

 

4. How are the seed samples stored?  

 

5. Why is the vault kept at -18 degrees Centigrade?

 

6. What makes the Svalbard archipelago area geographically stable?

 

7. What would happen to the seeds if a bomb exploded just outside the vault’s concrete entranceway?

 

8. Why is the vault’s entranceway situated 130 meters above the current sea level?

 

9. How many boxes of seeds did the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas withdraw from the vault earlier this year?

 

10.Why did the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas withdraw the seeds?

 

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LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS and ANSWERS HERE!

You may also download the lesson in PDF format to keep for your reference. 

PDF DOWNLOAD: KA WORDCAST: Listen and Learn LESSON FORTY-TWO: Seeds for Humanity

 

 

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KA WORDCAST:  Listen and Learn!  Lesson Forty-Two

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.

 

Canning is the best way to PRESERVE the freshness of homegrown fruit and vegetables.

Canning is the best way to PRESERVE the freshness of homegrown fruit and vegetables.

1. PRESERVE

It stores and PRESERVES a wide variety of plant seeds that are duplicate samples (“back-up copies”) of seeds held in seed banks around the world.

PRESERVE is a verb that means to prevent or keep something from decaying by treating or handling it in a certain way.

Without refrigeration, how did people in olden times PRESERVE their perishable food?

Canning is the best way to PRESERVE the freshness of homegrown fruits and vegetables.

PRESERVE also means to keep something in its original state or in very good condition. Conserve, maintain, and protect are the nearest synonyms.

The carcass of a baby mammoth discovered in an ice tomb in the New Siberian Islands is especially well PRESERVED, having remained frozen for nearly 40,000 years.

Warwick Castle is one of the best PRESERVED medieval castles in England.

Warwick Castle is one of the best PRESERVED medieval castles in England.

Warwick Castle is one of the best PRESERVED medieval castles in England, and well worth a visit.

Surprisingly, some of the artifacts found in the wreckage of the Titanic are remarkably well PRESERVED.

PRESERVE also means to maintain a condition or state of affairs or, particularly when speaking of ecological matters, to keep something alive or safe from danger.

By encouraging people to adopt a black jaguar or a three-toed sloth, the World Wildlife Fund is helping to PRESERVE the rich biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest.

The President, Congress, and Supreme Court are sworn to PRESERVE and protect the Constitution of the United States.

The U.N.’s efforts to PRESERVE the peace in the region have so far been unsuccessful.

The film adaptation of "The Martian" PRESERVED all the qualities of the Andy Weir novel.

The film adaptation of “The Martian” PRESERVED all the qualities of the Andy Weir novel.

The film adaptation of The Martian PRESERVED all the qualities of the Andy Weir novel on which it was based.

This photo album helps me PRESERVE the wonderful memories I have of my first trip to Thailand.

PRESERVES are a type of jam made by boiling fruit with a large amount of sugar, or a type of pickle made by cooking vegetables with vinegar and salt.

The PRESERVES we made from the raspberries we picked at the U-Pick Farm are the best I’ve ever had.

An area of land or a body of water where animals or fish are kept for private hunting and fishing, or, in some cases, where the animals are protected from hunting, is also called a PRESERVE. The closest synonym is reserve.

Wildlife PRESERVES can be found in nearly every country and are protected from development.

 

 

DUPLICATE keys

DUPLICATE keys

2. DUPLICATE

It stores and preserves a wide variety of plant seeds that are DUPLICATE samples (“back-up copies”) of seeds held in seed banks around the world.

In the sentence above, DUPLICATE is an adjective used to describe something that is exactly like or made as an exact copy of something else.  Synonyms include matching, corresponding, and identical.

For her birthday, my daughter received DUPLICATE copies of the latest Michael Morpurgo book, so we donated one copy to the school library.

Please only submit one competition entry, as DUPLICATE entries will be discarded. 

As a noun, DUPLICATE means one of two or more things such as a document that are the same in every detail.  The closest synonym is exact copy.

Is this birth certificate a DUPLICATE or the original?

DUPLICATE is also a verb that means to make or be an exact copy of something else.  Synonyms include copy, reproduce, and replicate.

Our art teacher told us to DUPLICATE the photograph of Mt. Fuji as closely and in as much detail as possible using only colored pencils.

I’ve tried many times to DUPLICATE my grandmother’s Dutch apple pie, but I never seem to get it quite right. 

English-language schools have sprung up all over Tokyo in recent years, but none has been able to DUPLICATE the success of Kikokushijo Academy. 

 

-18 degrees Centigrade is the OPTIMAL temperature for keeping seeds viable for long periods of time.

-18 degrees Centigrade is the OPTIMAL temperature for keeping seeds viable for long periods of time.

3. OPTIMAL

The packages are sealed, labeled, and stored in black boxes on shelves deep inside the vault, which is kept at -18 degrees Centigrade, the OPTIMAL temperature for keeping seeds viable for long periods of time.

OPTIMAL is an adjective that describes the best possible result or the best way of producing the best possible result. Most desirable and most favorable are commonly used synonyms.

At our school we make every effort to maintain the OPTIMAL conditions for enthusiastic learning.

The new book is a self-help guide to maintaining OPTIMAL health and wellbeing.

To ensure the returnee child’s OPTIMAL re-entry into Japanese schools and society, dedicated parental support is essential.

OPTIMUM is a related adjective that also describes something that is the best or most advantageous, or something that surpasses all others.

Ten or perhaps fifteen is the OPTIMUM number of students per class for an effective educational environment.

A speed of 60 miles per hour is THE OPTIMUM for maintaining maximum fuel efficiency.

A speed of 60 miles per hour is THE OPTIMUM for maintaining maximum fuel efficiency.

My brother’s new home theater not only offers amazing 3-D viewing and surround sound, but also OPTIMUM comfort.

It takes me an hour and a half to drive to school even in OPTIMUM traffic conditions.

These days, fewer and fewer people are sleeping the OPTIMUM number of hours required to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

As a noun, the OPTIMUM is the best possible result, condition, circumstance, and so on. Ideal is the best synonym.

While driving on the freeway, a speed of 60 miles per hour is the OPTIMUM for maintaining maximum fuel efficiency.

 

Japan's STAPLE crop is rice.

Japan’s STAPLE crop is rice.

4. STAPLE

Currently, the vault holds more than 860,000 samples of crop seeds—ranging from STAPLE food items like maize and wheat to “salad stuff” like lettuce and tomatoes—from nearly every country in the world.

In the passage, STAPLE is an adjective that means forming the basic or most important part of something. As an adjective, STAPLE is always used before a noun. Main, principal, essential, and fundamental are some good synonyms.

Japan’s STAPLE crop is rice.

Owing to the on-going drought, prices of STAPLE food items such as corn and wheat are expected to soar in the coming months.

Ireland recognized the value of potatoes in the late 1600s and became the first country in Europe to plant potatoes as a STAPLE food crop.

In many countries around the world today, jeans are a STAPLE item in nearly everyone’s wardrobe.

Basic STAPLES.

Basic STAPLES.

STAPLE is also a noun that has several uses. STAPLE can refer to 1) a basic food that is used a lot, 2) something produced by a country that is important to its economy, or 3) a large or important part of something.

1) Fruits and vegetables are the STAPLES of any healthy diet.

1) As long as I have the STAPLES in my pantry, I can whip up some kind of meal for my family.

1) After the hurricane swept through the area, aid workers were flown in to help distribute water, milk, and other STAPLES.

2) Diamonds, gold, and other precious metals are STAPLES of the South African economy.  

3) Many social critics in both American and England complain that violence has become a STAPLE of prime-time television.

3) These days, owning a mobile phone is more of a STAPLE than a luxury.

A STAPLER and some STAPLES.

A STAPLER and some STAPLES.

A STAPLE is also a small, bent piece of wire that is used in a STAPLER to STAPLE or fasten sheets of paper or other materials together. Look at how STAPLE in this sense is used as both a noun and a verb.

I cut my finger while trying to pull out a STAPLE and got spots of blood all over my college application form.

“Please STAPLE your rough drafts to your essay paper before turning it in,” Mrs. Willis told her class.

With thick leather like this, you need large STAPLES and a powerful STAPLE gun.

 

PROJECTION of how high the ocean could rise.

PROJECTION of how high the ocean could rise.

5. PROJECTION

The vault entrance is 130 meters above sea level, comfortably above PROJECTIONS of how high the oceans could rise.

PROJECTION is a noun that has multiple uses, but for today, we will only look at how PROJECTION is used in the passage. Here, it simply refers to an estimate or guess about something that might happen in the future. Forecast, prediction, prognosis, and expectation are some good equivalents.

The most optimistic PROJECTION says that the university tuition cap in the UK will be lowered to £6,000 per annum by 2017.

The Energy Minister reiterated his recent PROJECTION that fuel prices would continue to fall for the next six months.

According to the weatherman’s revised PROJECTION, we can expect up to 30 centimeters of snow by the weekend.

Many Hollywood insiders PROJECT that his role in the movie “The Revenant” will finally win Leonardo DiCaprio the Oscar for Best Actor.

Many Hollywood insiders PROJECT that his role in the movie “The Revenant” will finally win Leonardo DiCaprio the Oscar for Best Actor.

PROJECTION is based on the verb to PROJECT, which means to estimate the size, amount, or cost of something in the future based on what is happening now. Some synonyms include forecast, predict, estimate, calculate, and reckon.

Based on her mock-exam scores, Harumi’s tutor has PROJECTED that she will pass the entrance exam with flying colors.

Many Hollywood insiders PROJECT that his role in the movie “The Revenant” will finally win Leonardo DiCaprio the Oscar for Best Actor.

Experts PROJECT that if the Democratic candidate is elected President, the unemployment rate will fall.

Some of the money raised will be used to REGENERATE local parks and playgrounds.

Some of the money raised will be used to REGENERATE local parks and playgrounds.

 6. REGENERATE

So center scientists hope to use the Svalbard samples to REGENERATE seed collections kept in banks in Lebanon and Morocco—as a back-up of a back-up … just in case.

REGENERATE is a verb that means to grow or make something grow again. REGENERATE can be used to talk about man-made things or things from the natural environment. Some near equivalents include revive, restore, renew, and rekindle.

Seeing her close friend perform in a play at the local theater REGENERATED Alice’s dream of becoming an actress.

Some of the money raised at the community auction will be used to REGENERATE local parks and playgrounds.

Salamanders can REGENERATE body parts.

Salamanders can REGENERATE body parts.

Plans to REGENERATE the city’s old trolley system fell through when citizens voted against the necessary budget increase.

The liver is the only organ in the human body that is able to REGENERATE itself.

Many animals, including salamanders and starfish, can REGENERATE body parts.

Research suggests that stem cells could be used to REGENERATE damaged or diseased body parts.

 

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PDF DOWNLOAD: KA WORDCAST Listen and Learn Lesson Forty-Two KEY VOCABULARY WORDS