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In today’s lesson, entitled Lights Out, you will be listening to a passage about how a simple act like turning off lights at night could save the lives of millions of migrating birds. 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 Thirteen PASSAGE ONLY track:
“Flick the Switch” and “Do Right, Save Light” are just two of the catchy slogans electric companies have used over the years to encourage people to reduce their energy consumption. North Americans in particular have been admonished to conserve and “flick the switch”—and with good reason. In 2010, the average American or Canadian household used about twenty times more electricity than the typical Nigerian household and consumed up to three times more energy than Europeans. Many factors drive these differences, including house size, level of wealth, climate, and access to alternative energy sources. But the truth is that a lot of energy is simply being wasted.
Many environmental conservation organizations have joined the electric companies in trying to get people to be more energy conscious. For the past sixteen years, one leading group, the National Audubon Society, has been pleading with the American public to “switch off” at night, not just to save on electricity bills, but also to save the lives of our feathered friends.
Every year, billions of birds—warblers, thrushes, hummingbirds, and sparrows—migrate north in the spring and then fly back south in the fall. Ornithologists (scientists who study birds) believe that migrating birds use the stars to navigate their routes. But as the birds pass over large cities, they become disoriented by the bright lights, especially those on skyscrapers and other high-rise structures directly in the birds’ flight path. Many birds crash into windows, while many others circle in confusion until they are too exhausted to fly any farther. The phenomenon, known as “fatal light attraction,” kills as many as one billion birds a year in the U.S. alone.
Daniel Klem, professor of ornithology at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania, says that the fittest members of a bird population are just as likely to crash into windows as the weaker birds. “This is worrying,” he told the BBC recently, “because we may be killing some very important members of the population that would be instrumental in maintaining its health.”
The Lights Out initiative is a national effort led by the Audubon Society to help reduce bird deaths caused by fatal light attraction. Since the initiative’s introduction in 1999, dozens of American cities, including Chicago, Baltimore, and Houston, have organized “save the birds” programs. The strategy is surprisingly easy: at night, during the peak migration seasons, turn off all non-essential lights in buildings, stadiums, and other public landmarks. This simple act helps provide birds with a safe passage between their summer nesting and wintering grounds.
New York State is the latest to join the growing list of cities and communities taking part in the Lights Out campaign. “Millions of birds migrate through New York along the Atlantic Flyway route every year,” says New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. “Now those passing over the city at night will stand a better chance of making it further north.” What’s more, “flicking the switch” could potentially save other nocturnal mammals and artificial-light-sensitive trees from harm. But that’s another story.
LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS
Listen to Listen and Learn Lesson Thirteen LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS track:
Today’s listening comprehension questions will be MULTIPLE CHOICE or TRUE-FALSE and based on FACTUAL CONTENT and LOGICAL INFERENCE. 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. “Flick the Switch” and “Do Right, Save Light” are two examples of slogans
a) used by conservation groups to encourage people to turn on indoor lights at night.
b) that electric companies have used over the years to encourage people to turn lights off at night.
c) used by electric companies to encourage people to reduce their energy consumption.
d) that environmental groups have used to encourage people to change electric companies.
2. Decide if this statement is true or false.
According to the passage, American and Canadian households use twenty times more electricity than the typical European household.
3. From the passage, you can infer that the National Audubon Society is
a) one of the biggest electricity companies in the United States.
b) an American environmental conservation organization.
c) an organization strictly for bird watchers and bird lovers.
d) a charity organization that teaches people how to be more energy conscious.
4. Decide if this statement is true or false.
Ornithologists believe that birds use the night sky to navigate their routes.
5. Why do skyscrapers and other tall city structures pose a danger to migrating birds?
a) The birds become confused when they see their reflection in the windows of tall buildings.
b) Some bird species are not capable of flying as high as some of the tallest skyscrapers, and they end up crashing into them.
c) Bright lights from skyscrapers and other tall buildings can cause permanent blindness in the birds.
d) Bright lights from the city, especially those on skyscrapers and other tall buildings, disorientate the birds, and many crash into windows.
6. Decide if this statement is true or false.
“Fatal light attraction” kills as many as one million birds a year in the United States.
7. According to Professor Daniel Klem, an ornithologist, the fittest members of a bird population are just as likely to
a) crash into windows as the weaker birds.
b) become too exhausted to fly north for the winter.
c) get lost in the city as the weaker members.
d) become disoriented and fly in the wrong direction.
8. Decide if this statement is true or false.
The “Lights Out” initiative was first introduced in 1999.
9. By turning off all non-essential lights in buildings, stadiums, and other public landmarks at night during the peak migration season, migrating birds
a) are less likely to crash into windows.
b) are given a safe passage between their summer nesting and wintering grounds.
c) will be able to successfully use the stars to navigate their flight route.
d) All of the above.
10. Decide if this statement is true or false.
Pennsylvania is the latest state to join the growing list of cities and communities taking part in the Lights Out campaign.
Now that you have completed today’s listening comprehension exercise, it’s time to check your answers and see how well you did. The correct answers will follow immediately after the closing jingle, so stay tuned. Answers are also available on the KA Wordcast website as a separate track. You can also download the lesson in PDF format and keep it for your reference. And be sure to listen to the Key Vocabulary bonus track. This will improve your understanding of the passage itself and give you a bigger, better active vocabulary.
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 Thirteen LIGHTS OUT
KA WORDCAST: Listen and Learn! Lesson THIRTEEN
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.
North Americans in particular have been ADMONISHED to conserve and “flick the switch”—and with good reason.
ADMONISH is a verb that means to strongly advise or urge somebody to do (or to avoid doing) something. Caution, implore, warn, and pressure, as well as advise, are the nearest synonyms.
Hannah’s academic advisor ADMONISHED her to not put off writing her graduation thesis to the last minute.
It’s Dr. Sheppard’s job as a general practitioner to ADMONISH his patients to cut down on sugar and other unhealthy foods, to stop smoking, and to exercise daily.
ADMONISH also means to firmly scold somebody for a negative or harmful action that he/she has done. Synonyms for this usage include reprimand, chastise, and lecture. Some informal synonyms include give someone a talking to, lay into, chew out, and tell off.
Marty’s teacher ADMONISHED him for talking out of turn and disrupting the class.
“Mom’s got a bit of a temper today,” Elliot whispered to his sister Amanda. “She totally ADMONISHED me for not making my bed two minutes after I’d gotten up!”
North Americans in particular have been admonished to CONSERVE and “flick the switch”—and with good reason.
In the sentence above, CONSERVE means to save and use as little of something as possible so that it lasts a long time. Use sparingly is a close equivalent.
One way to CONSERVE energy in your home is to install double-glazed windows and insulation in the attic.
When going out for a long run, make sure you pace yourself and CONSERVE your energy so that you don’t run out of steam halfway.
You’ll be surprised how much electricity you can CONSERVE annually simply by shutting down your computer at the end of each working day.
Due to the prolonged drought, California residents are being asked to CONSERVE water, especially by refraining from watering lawns.
CONSERVE also means to protect something or to save it from being destroyed. CONSERVE is most often used to talk about the environment and nature. Preserve, maintain, protect, and safeguard are synonyms you can use in place of CONSERVE.
The Zambian government has plans to establish several new national parks to CONSERVE different ecosystems and the wildlife they support.
All the sponsorship money Kelly raised for the London Marathon will be donated to a charity that has been set up to CONSERVE pandas in their natural habitat.
The related noun CONSERVATION refers to either the act of preventing something from being used up or destroyed, or the act of protecting the environment.
During National Save the Planet Week, students are asked to walk or bicycle to school to encourage energy CONSERVATION.
With a degree in environmental science, you can get a job working for organizations that focus on wildlife CONSERVATION.
Every year, billions of birds—warblers, thrushes, hummingbirds, and sparrows—MIGRATE north in the spring and then fly back south in the fall.
When talking about birds or other animals, MIGRATE means to move from one part of the world to another according to the season.
Every year, from May to July, millions of sardines MIGRATE from the colder waters of the Cape of Good Hope into the warm, sub-tropical waters along Africa’s eastern coast.
Loggerhead sea turtles manage to MIGRATE thousands of miles across oceans with no visual landmarks, using only the strength and angle of Earth’s magnetic field.
When people MIGRATE, they move from one town, city, or country to go and live or work in another. Relocate, resettle, and emigrate are the closest synonyms.
After a year-long dry spell that left many farming communities devastated, young farmers are MIGRATING to the cities in search of work.
Many people from developing countries are MIGRATING to Europe, the Americas, and Australia to escape political instability and to look for a better quality of life.
MIGRATION is the noun form for both of the above uses. It refers to the movement of either a group of people or a large number of animals from one location to another.
Researchers say that a female grey whale now holds the record as the mammal with the longest MIGRATION, travelling 13,998 miles in 171 days.
During the MIGRATION season, geese can travel up to 600 miles in a single day.
Over the past fifty or so years, there has been a widespread MIGRATION of people from rural China to the country’s larger cities.
The phenomenon, known as “FATAL light attraction,” kills as many as one billion birds a year in the U.S. alone.
In the above sentence, FATAL is an adjective that means causing death. Deadly, terminal, and lethal are its closest equivalents.
When you get to the ripe old age of 98, even the slightest cold can be FATAL.
We learned the hard way that chocolate is FATAL to dogs, so please, keep all chocolate away from where your dog can get hold of it.
Maureen called us today with the devastating news that her only son Garth had been killed in a FATAL motorcycle accident.
Paul’s wife Andrea died after contracting a FATAL disease while travelling in the remote jungles of South America.
FATAL is also used more figuratively or colloquially to mean causing disaster or failure. Disastrous, dire, ruinous, and harmful can be used in place of FATAL.
Franklin made the FATAL mistake of investing all of his inheritance money in his friend Greg’s start-up company and ended up losing everything.
There was a FATAL flaw in Oscar’s import/export business plan. He forgot to take fickle consumer tastes into account.
Many birds crash into windows, while many others circle in confusion until they are too EXHAUSTED to fly any farther.
In the sentence above, EXHAUSTED is an adjective that simply means too tired to do something. Worn out, drained, fatigued, and debilitated are the nearest synonyms.
“I’ve been running around all day preparing for Sandy’s birthday party,” Alicia said as she plopped down on the sofa. “I’m EXHAUSTED.”
After completing his first triathlon, Kenny said that he was too EXHAUSTED to even take a shower and promptly went to bed.
Midway through our hike up Mt. Tanzawa, I was starving, EXHAUSTED, and just plain fed up with the whole idea.
Those young boys must be EXHAUSTED after running up and down the regulation-size pitch they played on this morning.
EXHAUSTING is another adjective that is used to describe something that makes you feel very tired.
“Shh! Daddy’s napping on the sofa,” Harriet whispered to her children. “He had a very EXHAUSTING day at work.”
Teaching primary-school-aged children, though often EXHAUSTING, is very rewarding work.
I don’t know about you, but I find Quinton’s constant moaning about how hard his life is really EXHAUSTING.
The noun form of both EXHAUSTED and EXHAUSTING is EXHAUSTION, which means the state of being very tired.
Heat EXHAUSTION is very real, so please be sensible when playing in the sun and drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated.
Toby collapsed in EXHAUSTION after spending the entire day mowing lawns to make some extra spending money.
“This is worrying,” he told the BBC recently, “because we may be killing some very important members of the population that would be INSTRUMENTAL in maintaining its health.”
INSTRUMENTAL is an adjective that means important in making something happen. The phrase TO BE INSTRUMENTAL IN, as used in the sentence above, means to play a big part in or have a hand in a particular outcome.
Although he is rarely remembered, Bill Gates’s former business partner Paul Allen was INSTRUMENTAL in getting the Microsoft Corporation off the ground.
Richard Neville, commonly known as the Earl of Warwick, was INSTRUMENTAL in the overthrowing of two English kings during the 15th century.
Jason was INSTRUMENTAL in getting the language school established, but for the past few years, he has had little involvement with the school.
And don’t forget. INSTRUMENTAL can also be used to talk about music. An INSTRUMENTAL music piece is one without vocals.
Every morning, between six and eight a.m., the easy-listening channel on the radio only plays INSTRUMENTAL versions of popular songs.
Have you ever noticed that the INSTRUMENTAL music played in elevators is just slowed-down, sappier versions of hit songs?