Car Ban in Madrid

[Environment ★]

90_air-pollution

(P1) There is too much pollution in Madrid. That is why there is a ban on some cars now. These cars cannot go into Madrid on some days. The plan is to end the ban when the level of pollution is down.

(P2) Madrid is too warm now. This is unusual for this time of the year. That is why the level of pollution is high. It is above European Union pollution limits.

(P3) The speed limits on Madrid´s roads are also lower to reduce pollution. Madrid has almost 4 million cars plus almost 1 million trucks.

WORDS: 93

SOURCE: http://www.newsinlevels.com/products/car-ban-in-madrid-level-1/

VOCABULARY: pollution, ban, level, limits, speed, reduce, trucks

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly, summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Is there pollution in your country? If yes, what kind?
  3. Do lots of people drive cars in your country?
  4. What are the speed limits in your country?

READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS:

  1. Madrid has a lot of _____________.
  2. When will the ban end?
  3. It is not warm in Madrid nowadays. (T or F)
  4. Cars and trucks have to drive slower or faster?
  5. How many trucks are in Madrid?

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES:

What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • is down (P1)
  • too warm now (P2)
  • this time of the year (P2)
  • speed limits

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Image source: By Zakysant at the German Wikipedia – Uploaded by its author to the German Wikipedia as Air-pollution.JPG – Derivative works of this file: Air-PollutionEchappementTruck.JPG

Swedish Taxi-pod

[Technology & Environment ★★]

89_800px-coco_taxis

(P1) Students in Goteborg, Sweden, need to travel in the busy city center. But now they do not need to take a bus or a taxi. They can use a Taxi-pod, a little yellow battery-powered car with three wheels.

(P2) The company, Burst, wants to solve the problem with traffic in big cities. It would like to offer a perfect service for short trips in the city.

(P3) People on buses usually travel a long way. They are not in a hurry and they do not need to get to their final point. For lots of people, it is very important to travel quicker.

(P4) This service is not only about speed. The makers of these cars also want to improve air quality. They also want to solve traffic jam problems.

(P5) One of the passengers thinks that the Taxi-pods are good for cleaner air, cheap, easy to use in the city, and fun.

WORDS: 150

SOURCE: http://www.newsinlevels.com/products/swedish-taxi-pod-level-1/

VOCABULARY: wheels, offer, trips, makers, improve

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly, summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Do you think taxi-pods are a good idea? Why or why not?
  3. How do you move around in a busy city?
  4. Would you take a taxi-pod if they were available in your city? Why or why not?

READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS:

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES:

  1. The Taxi-pod moves on __________ wheels.
  2. Burst is the name of a ____________.
  3. A lot of people want to travel quickly. (T or F)
  4. The Taxi-pod is a service that’s not only concerned about faster transportation. (T or F)
  5. What 4 things did a user of the Taxi-pod say about the transportation?

What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • battery-powered (P1)
  • solve the problem (P2)
  • a long way (P3)
  • their final point (P3)

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Image source: By Jongleur100 Own work – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Coco_taxis.JPG

Food-like smell on plastic may lure seabirds to eat it

[Environment ★★★★]

860_main_seabirds

(P1) Whether it’s steak and potatoes or spaghetti and meatballs, the smell of dinner can be irresistible. Certain species of seabirds have a similar reaction to the scent of food. They use a particular odor to track down a meal. But that can be a problem as more plastic trash finds its way into the ocean. Plastic can absorb a scent that should point to prey. This can trick the birds into eating that plastic, researchers now report.

(P2) Plastic is a huge problem for ocean animals, notes Gabrielle Nevitt. She is a zoologist at the University of California, Davis. When animals eat plastic, it can make them sick. It might even kill them. It has not been clear why they have been eating it, especially because plastic doesn’t look like sea-based food.

(P3) Nevitt and colleagues started to think about what other senses, aside from sight, are important to ocean animals. To seabirds, such as petrels and albatrosses, “smell is super important,” she says. To find food, they rely on the odor that comes from a chemical called dimethyl sulfide (Dy-METH-ul SUL-fyde), or DMS. It is released into the air and the water when single-celled ocean life called phytoplankton are eaten or crushed. “To us, DMS smells a bit like seaweed or like an oyster,” Nevitt says. To the birds, it smells like dinner.

(P4) Studies have shown that phytoplankton and other tiny critters can grow on plastic in the ocean. Scientists call this biofouling. Earlier research had shown that seabirds such as petrels eat a lot of plastic. Nevitt and colleagues wanted to know if there was some connection to that biofouling.

(P5) To find out, the researchers put mesh bags of plastic beads into the ocean. They tethered the beads to ocean buoys for three weeks. When they came back to pick them up, the beads were covered in slime. And that slime gave off the scent of DMS. The odor was so strong that petrels and similar seabirds would definitely be able to smell it, the scientists report.

(P6) Nevitt and colleagues then used statistics to check the connection among the seabirds, DMS and how much plastic, birds ate. Species that hunt using DMS ate much more plastic than did birds that don’t use this scent to find food. The researchers reported their finding November 9 in Science Advances.

(P7) This idea that plastic can fool birds into thinking it is food is ominous, says Alistair Dove. He is a marine scientist at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. He was not involved in the new work but studies other animals, such as whale sharks, which might also be affected by food-scented plastic debris.

(P8) The new research is “pretty convincing stuff,” Dove says. “If you want to truly understand what impact we have on ocean life, you have to put yourself in the animals shoes and try to experience the changing ocean the way they do,” he explains. “In this case, the scientists asked ‘what would plastic smell like to a bird?’ And the answer was surprising and informative.”

(P9) These odor signals don’t operate in isolation. They work as part of a complex landscape of aromas, a “smellscape,” Dove explains. The next logical step in this research is to look at mixtures of odors that act as cues for food. Some smells block other signals. Some smells make other scents stronger. One important question is whether plastics trap smells important to other filter-feeding animals, such as baleen whales, manta rays and whale sharks, he says.

(P10) Sadly, it’s too late to do anything about the plastic that is already in the ocean. All people can do is prevent more plastic from getting in there, Dove says. “It’s going to take all of us governments, companies, conservation advocacy groups, and consumers; to get it done.”

WORDS: 629

SOURCE: https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/food-smell-plastic-may-lure-seabirds-eat-it

VOCABULARY: prey, phytoplankton, critters, tethered, buoys, ominous

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly, summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. In your opinion, what can be done to prevent plastic from entering our water sources like oceans?
  3. What do you think it would be like to be in the shoes of a seabird?
  4. Should governments get more involved in the environmental issues? Why or why not?

READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS:

  1. Plastic bags can ___________ an odor that could make it smell like another sea creature.
  2. Which sense in seabirds is super sensitive?
  3. What does phytoplankton smell like to humans?
  4. According to Alistair Dove, people need to put themselves in the _________ of the sea creatures to experience what they do.
  5. According to the article, something can be done to remove plastic materials from the ocean. (T or F)

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES:

What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • track down a meal (P1)
  • sea-based food (P2)
  • other senses, aside from sight (P3)
  • mesh bags of plastic beads (P5)
  • pretty convincing stuff (P8)
  • that act as cues for food (P9)

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Image source: by JJ HARRISON/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS (CC-BY-SA 3.0) https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/food-smell-plastic-may-lure-seabirds-eat-it

Germany builds first wind turbines powered by water

[Environment ★★★★]

highest wind park in Europe

(P1) German engineers are storing water for hydroelectricity inside wind turbines allowing the towers to act like massive batteries once the wind stops blowing. This is being reported as the first major example of the two technologies being physically integrated to supply reliable renewable energy.

(P2) General Electric announced the four-turbine project earlier this month. As reported by Quartz online, it can store energy from the spinning blades by pumping water about 30m up inside the turbine structure itself. Basins around each base will store 9m gallons. When the wind stops, water flows downhill to generate hydroelectric power. A man-made lake in the valley below collects water until turbines pump the water back up again.

(P3) According to Quartz, the wind farm in Germany’s Swabian-Franconian forest will feature the tallest turbines in the world at 246.5m. At full capacity, it should produce 13.6 megawatts, along with another 16 megawatts from the hydroelectric plant.

(P4) The project is being built by German firm Max Boegl Wind AG and GE Renewable Energy. The wind farm should connect to the grid by 2017, and hydropower units will be finished by the end of 2018.

(P5) Meanwhile, the online edition of POWER magazine reported that German lawmakers had passed three major laws in July in order to ensure the transition to renewable energy: the 2017 revision of the Renewable Energy Sources Act, the Electricity Market Act, and the Act on the Digitisation of the Energy Transition.

(P6) “These three pieces of legislation will ensure that the transition of our energy supply can proceed in a foreseeable and cost-efficient way,” said Federal Economics and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel. “Renewable energy, the electricity market, energy efficiency, the grids, and digitization used to be treated as separate elements, but have now been turned into a consistent overall framework for the energy transition.”

(P6) But paramount to fostering this growth is fixing the current transmission bottleneck problems. “The grid is not in a position today to take up all the renewable energy” coming on stream, said Tony Adam, manager of Public Affairs and Government Relations with wind turbine producer Nordex, in an interview with POWER.

WORDS: 350

SOURCE: https://www.neweurope.eu/article/germany-builds-first-wind-turbines-powered-water/

VOCABULARY: turbines, basins, wind farms, grid, foreseeable, paramount, bottleneck

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly, summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Does your country use or are they working on renewable energy? If so, what types?
  3. In your opinion, do you think it’s important to use renewable energy sources? Why or why not?
  4. Would you like to work on a renewable energy project? Why or why not?

READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS:

  1. What are the engineers keeping inside the turbines?
  2. General Electric’s project that they made public calls for using a five-turbines. (T or F)
  3. GE’s wind farm project should be linked to the grid system by ________.
  4. What are the names of the laws that had to be passed in Germany?
  5. The grid can start to use renewable energy at ant time. (T or F)

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES:

What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • back up (P2)
  • turned into (P6)
  • used to (P6)
  • take up (P7)

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Image source:  by EPA/OLIVIER MAIRE https://www.neweurope.eu/article/germany-builds-first-wind-turbines-powered-water/

Turtles in the Amazon

[Environment ★]

64_lejeune_home_to_many_threatened_endangered_species_110901-m-iy869-001

(P1) People put thousands of small turtles into large containers. These turtles are in Peru. There are about 17,000 of these turtles. They are all babies.

(P2) They are waiting. People let them go into a river. The river is the Amazon. The people in Peru’s government want to help these turtles. There are not many of them in nature.

(P3) There are not many of them because of new roads, houses, and people cutting down trees. Now, these baby turtles have a better chance to survive.

WORDS: 87

SOURCE: http://www.newsinlevels.com/products/turtles-in-the-amazon-level-1/

VOCABULARY: containers, government, nature, roads, survive

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly, summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Do you like turtles? Why or why not?
  3. Would you help these turtles? Why or why not?
  4. What are some other animals you like?

READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS:

  1. How many turtles were put into containers?
  2. Where are the turtles?
  3. Some of the turtles are adults. (T or F)
  4. Which river is now home to the turtles?
  5. What are the 3 reasons why there are not many turtles?

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES:

What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • put thousands of small turtles (P1)
  • all babies (P1)
  • not many of them (P2)
  • cutting down trees (P3)

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Image source: By Lance Cpl. Jackeline Perez Rivera, Public domain, https://www.dvidshub.net/image/666507/lejeune-home-many-threatened-endangered-species

These New Delhi Selfies Are Raising Eyebrows

[Environment ★★★]

1091395-11-20161106171824

(P1) It is tough to breathe in New Delhi these days, and people are demonstrating against the dangerous air with what Mashable calls “smog selfies.” Residents are posing with landmarks behind them, except that the landmarks are obscured by smog. Another dig: Members of a visiting cricket team whose game was canceled because of the air posed in protective masks. New Delhi, already considered one of the most polluted cities in the world, logged levels of PM2.5 (particulates that clog lungs) above 900 micrograms per cubic meter Saturday, or 90 times higher than the level the World Health Organization calls safe, reports the BBC. Now people are venting online through the hashtag #MyRighttoBreathe.

(p2) For now, government officials are urging everyone to stay inside because pollution this severe can lead to heart disease, lung cancer, and asthma, especially in kids. On Monday, schools were ordered canceled for three days, and all construction in the city has been suspended. A variety of culprits are being blamed: In addition to the usual factors of car exhaust and the burning of rubbish, fireworks during the recent Diwali festival didn’t help, and NASA images imply that massive crop burning, as farmers clear their fields, also is playing a role.

WORDS: 203

SOURCE: http://www.newser.com/story/233653/these-new-delhi-selfies-are-raising-eyebrows.html

VOCABULARY: demonstrating, obscured, venting, culprits, imply

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly, summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Are there cities in your country that have severe pollution sometimes? If so, where?
  3. How can severe pollution be prevented?
  4. Do people protest in your country? If so, what do they protest about?

READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS:

  1. Why are people protesting in New Delhi?
  2. What are in the back of people when they take pictures of the smog?
  3. Which sports team is also protesting?
  4. What can terrible smog cause in humans?
  5. Setting fire to crops is one of the culprits that is causing the severe pollution. (T or F)

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES:

What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • another dig (P1)
  • posed in protective masks (P1)
  • can lead to (P2)
  • crop burning (P2)
  • playing a role (P2)

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Image source: by AP Photo/Manish Swarup http://www.newser.com/story/233653/these-new-delhi-selfies-are-raising-eyebrows.html

How Air Pollution Impacts Childhood Mental Health

[Environment ★★★★]

air_pollution-580x326

(P1) Air pollution is a known risk factor for certain mental health problems in adults, but a new study also links high rates of air pollution to poorer psychiatric health in children and adolescents.

(P2) To investigate this link, researchers from Umea University in Sweden examined what is known as “register-based” data. All medications given to Swedish people are registered, and in this case, researchers zeroed in on individuals under age 18 from Stockholm, Vastra Gotaland, Skane, and Vasterbotten. They then looked at this information in connection with the Swedish National Register, which logs air pollution.

(P3) Due to the socioeconomic range in these regions, researchers first had to control four factors that might affect the outcome, including variety in wealth and ethnicity.

(P4) Researchers found that air pollution levels do seem to impact adolescent and childhood psychiatric diagnoses, but they couldn’t directly measure rates of mental illness.

(P5) Furthermore, the risk of having at least one psychiatric diagnosis increased with just a 10 microgram per cubic meter increase in nitrogen dioxide levels in the air.

(P6) Nitrogen dioxide is one of several air pollutants that results from road traffic and other fossil fuel use. The gas is of particular interest for both health and environment agencies because it plays a part in the formation of particulate matter and acid rain. Long-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide has been linked to reduced lung function and resulting breathing and respiratory problems. It has also been identified as a potential risk factor for increasing allergy rates.

WORDS: 247

SOURCE: http://www.enn.com/pollution/article/49624

VOCABULARY: psychiatric, adolescents, logs, socioeconomic, ethnicity, fossil

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly, summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. How can air pollution be controlled?
  3. Do you think your government is doing enough to control air pollution in your country? Why or why not?
  4. In your opinion, do you think air pollution causes mental health issues in children and adolescents? Why or why not?

READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS:

  1. A study suggests that air pollution is worse for children and teenagers. (T or F)
  2. Which college performed the research?
  3. According to the study, smog definitely influences mental health issues. (T or F)
  4. Nitrogen dioxide is the one and only cause of air pollution. (T or F)
  5. Breathing problems are also associated with smog. (T or F)

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES:

What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • zeroed in (P2)
  • rates of mental illness (P4)
  • plays a part (P6)
  • acid rain (P6)

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Image source: Shutterstock http://d3i3l3kraiqpym.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/06184015/fossil-fuels-discussion.jpg