The problems of ecology are very important now. Which problem is the most urgent, in your opinion? What can you and the people around you do to protect the planet?

Environmental problems have become exceptionally acute in the modern world, and environmental protection has become a vital necessity for all people. Our planet is in serious danger. One of the most important environmental problems in the world today is the shortage of clean water. Industrial pollution has made many sources of water undrinkable. Rivers, lakes and even seas have become poisonous. Thousands of fish die every year as a result of the illegal dumping of waste in rivers by factories all over the world. Lake Baikal is one of the worlds’ largest and most beautiful lakes. It contains a rich variety of fish and plants, including 1,300 rare species that do not exist anywhere else in the world. However, they are being killed by massive industrial waste, which some factories still pour into the lake every day. A few years ago people thought that the supply of clean water was unlimited. Now clean water is scarce, and we are beginning to respect this precious resource. We must protect the clean water that remains for the sake of our children and grandchildren. Air pollution is another important problem. In hundreds of cities and towns the concentration of harmful substances in the air is over ten times the admissible level. Every day a huge number of plants and factories emit lots of harmful substances into the atmosphere of big cities. The great increase in the use of motor cars in the last quarter of the twentieth century has caused an increase in a new kind of air pollution. Pollution from factories and cars poison the air we breathe, and is the main reason for the greenhouse effect and

acid rain. Acid rain can damage life in lakes and rivers and destroy forests. The greenhouse effect may also have disastrous consequences for our planet. It is already affecting several areas of the world with unusual weather causing droughts or heavy storms. The world’s temperature is going up and the climate is changing. Cutting down on emissions from large combustion plants and exhaust fumes from vehicles would help solve the problem. I think we should try and use alternative energy, such as solar energy and wind energy, and design plants and cars that run on electricity, a much cleaner fuel than petrol. One of the most alarming environmental problems is depletion of the ozone layer, which protects the Earth from the dangerous ultraviolet rays of the sun. Because of the ozone holes, the dangerous rays get through the atmosphere, causing skin cancer and other serious diseases. Many scientists think that these ozone holes are the result of air pollution. In my opinion, the most urgent ecological problem today is the environmental safety of nuclear power stations. Nuclear pollution can’t be seen, but its effects can be terrible. We all know how tragic the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster are. Nuclear waste also endangers people’s lives. People all over the world protest against nuclear tests and nuclear weapons. If we do not take any action, the possibility of a global nuclear disaster is very real. Of course, we can’t help mentioning such burning issues as destruction of tropical forests and wildlife, overpopulation, and shortage of natural resources. The list of serious ecological problems could be continued. Today environmental issues are much spoken and written about on TV, radio, and in the newspapers. If people want to survive, they must do their best to solve these problems. Fortunately, it’s not too
late to save our planet. We understand that our environment is not just our hometown, but the whole earth. The protection of the environment requires the cooperation of all nations. Governments should take measures that will help improve the environment. There are a lot of environmental groups and international organizations, whose main goal is to strengthen cooperation among environmentalists from different countries. The most famous of them is Greenpeace, which combines the people’s efforts for peace with the huge and ever mounting movement for nature conservation. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is the name of another international organization that appeared in 1961. It has created or given support to National Parks on five continents. However, there are a lot of simple things we should all do to stop the destruction of the environment. First of all, we mustn’t drop litter in public places. Besides, we shouldn’t dump our rubbish without thinking which things, such as bottles and paper, can be recycled. We must stop using aerosol sprays, because the stuff they contain destroys the ozone layer. We should take care of birds and animals. We can help to plant trees and create parks for endangered species. We can clean rivers and canals and create footpaths. But first of all we must change people’s attitude towards the environment. If we take action now, there might be some hope for the future. If we do nothing, we are heading for disaster! Questions: 1. What ecological problems are urgent now? 2. What is the influence of pollution on people’s health? 3. What is happening to our forests? 4. What are the consequences of nuclear disasters? 5. Was life better a hundred years ago? Why do you think so? 6. What ecological problems exist in your hometown? 7. How can people protect our planet? 8. What is the aim of ecological organizations? What ecological
organizations do you know? 9. What can you personally do to keep the world healthy? 10. Should we reject technological progress?