Watch and Listen
1. Watch the video. Which sentence best summarizes the main idea?
a Bantengs, which are endangered, have been cloned by using the cells of an animal that died 23 years earlier.
b We now have the technology to clone endangered species, but many people are concerned that we aren’t dealing with the real problem.
c While certain animals cannot be cloned at this time, it is possible that we may be able to clone them in the future.
2. Watch again. Answer the questions.
1 Why do scientists believe that they are closer to protecting endangered species?
2 How were scientists able to clone the banteng?
3 What worries some conservationists about cloning?
1 because the cloning of the banteng is the most successful cloning yet
2 by injecting the banteng’s genetic material into the egg of a living cow
3 because it is pointless being able to produce more endangered animals unless we protect the habitat and deal with the root causes of endangerment
Cloning endangered species
Reporter: They are called bantengs, and although one of the week-old calves just died, the fact that they were born at all could put scientists one step closer to saving some endangered species. The animals were cloned from the frozen skin cells of a banteng which died 23 years ago.
Man: I’m rather still astounded by the fact that you can take the nucleus of a cell and produce a living animal.
Reporter: It’s called nuclear cell transfer, injecting the banteng’s genetic material into the egg of a living cow. It’s been done before with an endangered animal called a gaur. It died in just two days. the banteng was euthanized after developing complications from the cloning. While the news of the birth is astonishing, it also worries some conservationists.
Conservationist: If you don’t deal with protecting habitat and dealing with all the root cause of endangerment, it doesn’t matter how many animals you are able to produce in the lab and try to sort of fling back into the wild, they’re going to face the same fate as their wild counterparts.
Reporter: The scientists at advanced Cell Technology in Massachusetts, where both the banteng and gaur were cloned, agree to some extent.
Scientist: However, it doesn’t make much sense to preserve the habitat if you don’t have any animals to preserve.
Reporter: If you’re wondering, ‘Can this technology be used to clone extinct animals like the mammoth?’, hold on. Since cloning needs preserved animal tissue, bringing back the dinosaurs remains the stuff of science fiction, for now.
1. Listen to the lecture. Match the details (a-j) to the main ideas in the table.
a In Australia, Europe, Japan and North America, foxes live in urban areas, even big cities such as London.
b Part of this environmental change is due to natural, rather than human, causes.
c It destroyed around 800 square kilometres of farmland and a huge area of forest.
d One other animal that is as at home in the city as in the countryside is the raccoon.
e In 1991, a volcano in the Philippines erupted and killed many people and animals.
f In Africa and Asia, monkeys live in cities alongside people and exploit the human environment by stealing food or eating things that humans have thrown away.
g Today this is around 10%, as the Earth has been warming since that time.
h In Singapore, the 1,500 wild monkeys that live in and around the city have become a tourist attraction.
i Just 10,000 years ago, about half of the planet was covered in ice.
j It also caused severe floods when rivers were blocked with volcanic ash
Planet Earth is dynamic and always changing.
Habitat destruction hasn’t been bad news for all animals.
2. Listen to the lecture again and complete the notes with details you hear.
Earth is always changing
10,000 years ago, about half of Earth covered in ice; now only 1_________ is covered in ice.
Changes are in part due to 2_________ rather than human causes.
Natural forces can destroy the environment
1991 – volcano in the Philippines erupted and killed many people and animals; destroyed 3_________ of farmland and a huge area of forest
Caused severe floods when 4_________ by volcanic ash
Humans are also responsible for habitat destruction
Originally more than 5_________ square kilometres of rainforest worldwide; 6_________ today
Deforestation: approximately 160,000 square metres per year
In Europe, only about 15% of land not modified by humans
Some places have habitat broken into parts, e.g. separated by roads – called 7_________ can cause serious problems
Humans have affected the land, animals and sea
Pollution from coastal cities has damaged the ocean; destroyed habitat of 8_________
Animals are feeling at home in the city and in the countryside
Monkeys live alongside humans in 9_________
In 10_________, foxes in urban areas
Leopards in 11_________
Number of city raccoons increased
Have different 12_________ depending on their environment; common foods include 13_________; raccoons in cities eat 14_________
Not everyone feels that ecotourism is helping the environment
Tourists travel long distances by aeroplane, create 15_________
Resorts use local 16_________ such as water and produce 17_________ that creates pollution in the local environment
Planet Earth is dynamic and always changing.
i, g, b, e, c, j
Habitat destruction hasn’t been bad news for all animals.
f, h, a, d
1 10% 2 natural (causes) 3 800 square kilometres
4 rivers were blocked 5 16 million 6 9 million
7 fragmentation 8 fish and other sea life 9 Africa and Asia
10 Australia, Europe, Japan, North America
11 Mumbai 12 diets 13 fruit, plants, nuts and rodents
14 rubbish 15 pollution 16 resources 17 waste
Planet Earth is dynamic and always changing. Just 10,000 years ago, about half of the planet was covered in ice.
Today this is around 10%, as the Earth has been warming since that time. Part of this environmental change is due to natural, rather than human, causes.
Sometimes, natural forces can destroy the environment. In 1991, a volcano in the Philippines erupted and killed many people and animals. It destroyed around 800 square kilometres of farmland and a huge area of forest. It also caused severe floods when rivers were blocked with volcanic ash.
However, humans are also responsible for a lot of habitat destruction. There were originally more than 16 million square kilometres of rainforest worldwide. Only nine million remain today, and deforestation is occurring at a rate of approximately 160,000 square metres per year. In Europe, only about 15% of land hasn’t been modified by humans.
In some places, habitats haven’t been destroyed, but they have been broken into parts, for example, separated by roads. This is called fragmentation. If animals are used to moving around throughout the year and a road is built through the middle of their habitat, fragmentation can cause serious problems.
Humans haven’t only affected the land and its animals; they have also affected the sea. Pollution from coastal cities has damaged the ocean environment and destroyed the habitat of fish and other sea life.
Habitat destruction hasn’t been bad news for all animals. In fact, some species have adapted extremely well to living closely with people and benefit from living near them.
In Africa and Asia, monkeys live in cities alongside people and exploit the human environment by stealing food or eating things that humans have thrown away. In Singapore, the 1,500 wild monkeys that live in and around the city have become a tourist attraction.
In Australia, Europe, Japan and North America, foxes live in urban areas, even big cities such as London. They have different diets, depending on their environment; they survive in the city by eating a wide variety of things, from rubbish out of bins to insects and wild birds. Not everyone welcomes the foxes; they sometimes enter people’s homes to steal food and they occasionally bite people. Likewise, police in India recently spotted several young leopards in the streets of Mumbai. The leopards had moved into the city from the nearby forests. One expert said that the surprising thing was that leopards had been in the city for a long time, but people rarely saw them. Leopards are very secretive, and they prefer not to be seen.
One other animal that is as at home in the city as in the countryside is the raccoon. In fact, raccoons are so at home in the city that the number of city raccoons has increased. Raccoons have different diets depending on their environment. Common foods include fruit, plants, nuts and rodents. Much like the foxes of London, raccoons living in the city are known to eat rubbish out of bins, steal food from people’s homes and occasionally bite people.
We tend to think of human activity as always having a negative impact on the environment. However, some people feel that we can have a positive impact, too.
Conservation means trying to save habitats. Ecotourism is an approach to travel and holidays where people visit natural areas such as rainforests, except rather than destroy the environment, they help preserve it. Visitors to the La Selva Amazon Eco Lodge in Ecuador watch and learn about local wildlife, visit tribes who live in the forest, and stay in an environmentally friendly hotel. Their presence doesn’t damage the local environment, and most guests leave the hotel as conservationists. When they experience the beauty of nature firsthand, the feel strongly that they want to protect and preserve it.
Not everyone feels that ecotourism is actually helping the environment. Tourists who travel long distances by aeroplane create pollution, as do resorts, which use local resources such as fresh water and produce waste that creates pollution in the local environment.
1. Listen to the talk. Complete the notes on the main ideas.
Humans have learned to 2_________ the resources of the desert
The desert is an 3_________ that supports a variety of plant and animal life
If desert is destroyed:
More 4_________ will be in the air.
Plants will 5_________; as 6_________ will be saltier, we’ll lose a valuable food source.
Solutions: 7_________ desert resources carefully instead of abusing them; apply 8_________ solutions
2. Listen again. Number the details in the order you hear them.
a Bringing water into the desert to grow plants can make desert soil too salty. ___
b Computer technology can forecast how climate change will affect deserts. ___
c The Earth’s deserts cover 33.7 million square kilometres. ___
d Scientists are using solar energy to produce water in deserts. ___
e The Topnaar people have an understanding of the natural world. ___
f Deserts provide many of the world’s minerals and metals. ___
g There are over 2,200 desert plant species in Saudi Arabia. ___
h Desert surface temperatures in summer can reach 80°C. ___
3. Answer the questions. Then listen again to check your answers.
1 What percentage of the Earth’s surface is desert? ____________
2 In which part of African do the Bedouins live? ____________
3 What metals are found in the desert? ____________
4 What conditions are needed for acacia trees to grow? ____________
5 What is one of the best-known desert animals in the Arabian Peninsula? ____________
6 What kind of energy are scientists in Saudi Arabia using to produce fresh water? ____________
1 Decline and destruction of deserts 2 exploit
3 ecosystem 4 dust and dirt 5 die 6 soil 7 manage
a 6 b 7 c 1 d 8 e 2 f 3 g 5 h 4
1 25% 2 North Africa 3 copper, gold and other metals
4 hot and dry, with stable soil 5 Arabian oryx 6 solar
The topic of my talk is the decline and destruction of the world’s deserts. First, I’m going to talk about the desert environment and wildlife. Then we’ll look at the threats to this environment. Finally, we’ll talk about what is being done to save the world’s deserts.
Let’s begin by looking at some background information from the United Nations Environment Programme. The United Nations reports in Global Deserts Outlook that the Earth’s deserts cover about 33.7 million square kilometres, or about 25% of the Earth’s surface. Deserts are home to 500 million people, or about 8% of the world’s population but, as I’ll explain, people all over the world rely on things that come from this environment.
Humans have learned to exploit the resources of the desert for survival and profit by adapting their behaviour, culture and technology to its harsh environment. To give you an example, tribes such as the Topnaar in southwest Africa are known for their ability to survive in deserts due to their use of local plants and animals for food, medicine and clothing. They have an understanding of the natural world. The Bedouins, who live from North Africa to the Syrian deserts, are skilled at using animals to provide transport, food and clothing and also at growing basic foods around desert rivers. The Topnaar and the Bedouins are just two examples of people who live in and rely on the desert environment for the things they need. However, city dwellers benefit from the desert, too.
Certain minerals are commonly found in deserts, which provide a large portion of the world’s diamonds, together with copper, gold and other metals. They are a major source of oil and natural gas, too. These desert products are used by industries and people all over the world every day. So what I’m saying is that even though most people may not live in a desert, we are affected by changes to this desert environment.
Agricultural products are also grown in deserts and exported around the world. Because the climate is warm and land tends to be inexpensive, desert countries are able to grow and sell food all year. A good example of this is Egyptian cotton, famous all over the world. New methods of irrigation are being developed so that desert agricultural systems can use water more efficiently. So we can see that deserts are important, not only for the people who live in them, but for everyone who uses products that come from a desert environment. That’s all I have to say on that point.
Moving on now to the typical desert environment. In summer, the ground surface temperature in most deserts reaches 80 degrees Celsius, and there is very little rain. Despite these harsh conditions, a wide variety of plants and animals live in and are supported by this environment. For example, there are reportedly over 2,200 different plant species in the desert regions of Saudi Arabia, based on research from King Saud University.
Small plants are especially important in a desert environment because they hold the soil in place, which allows larger plants to grow. Acacia trees can grow well in extremely hot, dry conditions, but the seeds need stable soil to begin growing. Smaller plants, therefore, help the larger ones and in this way, all desert plants help hold the dry soil in place, which helps to reduce dust storms.
Deserts are also an important animal habitat. One of the best known desert animals in the Arabian Peninsula is the Arabian oryx, which weighs about 70 kilograms and is about one metre tall. It rests during the heat of the day and searches for food and water when temperatures are cooler. Experts say that the oryx can sense rain and move towards it.
These examples show that the desert is an ecosystem that supports a variety of important plant and animal life. The problem is that human activity is affecting modern deserts all over the world. According to the United Nations, traditional ways of life are changing as human activities such as cattle ranching, farming and large-scale tourism grow. The process of bringing water into the desert to grow plants is making the soil too salty. The construction of dams for power generation and water supply and an increase in mining have also begun to have a greater impact on the desert. Owing to the destruction of desert animals, therefore, have less food to eat. Data from the United Nations shows that every year nearly 2% of healthy desert disappears. Today, more than 50% of the world’s desert habitats are untouched wilderness, but by 2050, it may be as low as 31%.
If we lose the world’s deserts, we lose everything I spoke about in the first part of my talk. The Topnaar and Bedouin way of life will certainly disappear, but what does this mean for the rest of the world? Well, everyone on Earth will experience an increase of dust and dirt in the air as desert plants die. If desert soil becomes too salty to grow plants, we’ll also close a valuable source of food, and I’m talking about foods that we all eat. If we allow deserts to be destroyed, life all over the Earth will change. To put it another way, we will all be affected. Now, the big question is, what is being done about the destruction of deserts?
The United Nations Environment Programme offers two main solutions. First, we can begin to manage desert resources carefully, instead of abusing them. This means using the desert for things we need, as well as not damaging it further. It might mean not allowing activities such as raising cattle in certain areas. It would mean carefully controlling the way we use water. Secondly, we can apply technological solutions. The UN gives the example of using the latest computer technology to help forecast how climate change will affect deserts, and using that information to prepare for these changes.
We can also make better use of two resources freely available in the desert: the wind and the sun. These can be used to provide clean energy on a fairly small scale withing existing desert cities. According to a blog called A Smarter Planet, scientists in Saudi Arabia are already using solar energy to produce fresh water in the desert for agricultural use.
To summarize, deserts are not only important to the people who live in them, but to plants, animals and people everywhere, from the Bedouin tribes to city dwellers. Human activity is causing the destruction of desert habitats, but there are ways in which we can help to stop this.
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