Today (April 22nd) is Earth Day (see previous post), and this cartoon by Kal from The Economist provides a timely reminder, if one was needed, about the various threats to the global environment. In the cartoon shows what can best be described as a juggernaut destroying everything in its path, as an assortment of wild animals flee for their lives.
COMMENTS The various global threats are fairly clear, but there are one or two points worth commenting on. The comment made by the two birds features a play on the verb 'advance' and the adjective 'advanced'. The 'most advanced species' is, of course, humans. The remark is meant to be ironic, as is the 'Happy Earth Day' flag. The driver has his head in a bag of sand, which is a reference to the idiom 'to have/hide/stick/bury one's head in the sand'. This means to refuse to think about an unpleasant situation. • Teachers can't just hide their heads in the sand and not try to find out why students aren't doing better.
Today is Earth Day, an annual event, celebrated on April 22, on which day events worldwide are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and celebrated in more than 192 countries each year. You can find out more about the history of this movement here. And TIME has an article about the Google Doodle you can see above which features a video telling you how to make your own Google Doodle.
TRANSCRIPT For World Water Day an astonishing discovery has been announced — there is water on Twitter. UNICEF suggests we recuperate this water for the right cause. The H2O challenge. It's a simple idea. Filter your tweets to extract the characters H, 2, and O in order to create water molecules. Then all you have to do is make a donation to UNICEF to transform these virtual molecules into drinking water for children in Togo. So, how much water do you think is hidden in your tweets? To find out, visit the campaign website: http://h2o-challenge.com.
This beautiful ad is part of a campaign warning about the threat of overfishing, specifically in relation to tuna.
"Because of its high market value, tuna are among the “most wanted” fish for those fishing illegally. A single tuna was sold for a record $ 1.76 million at a Tokyo auction. Over exploitation and illegal fishing drove this species to brink of collapse. In the near future, Bluefin tuna might be a successful history of recovery, but the rest of oceans giants remain forgotten while they disappear from our seas."
Visit the superb Sea Legend website to find out more. I've textivated the voiceover below, and you can find the original text here. Click on textivate.com and then 'textivate now' for lots more activities based on the same text.
If the timetable for exactly when countries need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions has always seemed a little vague to you, well, we just got a deadline: 2100. That's according to a new report by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international organization of scientists dedicated to studying climate change. Using data from previous reports, the 116-page "Synthesis Report" warns global greenhouse emissions need to drop to zero by 2100 to avoid irreversible damage to our planet's atmosphere. Full transcript >>
Britain will struggle to “keep the lights on” unless the Government changes its green energy policies, the former environment secretary will warn this week. Owen Paterson will say that the Government’s plan to slash carbon emissions and rely more heavily on wind farms and other renewable energy sources is fatally flawed. He will argue that the 2008 Climate Change Act, which ties Britain into stringent targets to reduce the use of fossil fuels, should be suspended until other countries agree to take similar measures. If they refuse, the legislation should be scrapped altogether, he will say. Full story >>
VOCABULARY If you rip up something such as a plan or an agreement, you decide that it is useless and stop using it. • Mr. Sapin stressed that France isn't trying to rip up the rules or embark on a massive fiscal expansion.
Thirty thousand people turned out for a climate change rally in Melbourne, Australia. It's part of a global day of protests ahead of the United Nations' summit in New York Tuesday. The protests are part of a movement called People's Climate Change March, which aims to push leaders at the summit to make a meaningful agreement on capping emissions. A number of world leaders are expected to attend the U.N. summit, including President Obama, who has often urged action on climate change. Full transcript >>
California's legislature has passed a ban on single-use plastic bags. It could soon be the first ban of its kind implemented at a state level. State lawmakers passed the bill along with a host of other measures during a late-night session Friday, after initially failing to clear the legislature in an eariler vote. It now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk for approval. If signed, the proposal would ban grocery and convenience stores from providing plastic bags for their customers. Shoppers would have to either bring their own bags, or pay 10 cents at checkout for a paper or reusable plastic bag. Full transcript >>
Climate scientists have argued human activity is responsible for a significant portion of glacier melting but haven't been able to pinpoint just how much of an affect we've had until now. A panel of researchers put together by the United Nations found human-made greenhouse gas emissions account for about two-thirds of glacier melting specifically between 1991 and 2010. In the 140 years prior to 1991, they said humans only contributed about a quarter of the total amount. This marks the first time scientists have been able to attach a specific number to how drastic an effect the human carbon footprint is having on ice melting — especially recently. Full transcript >>
BACKGROUND New research shows a major section of west Antarctica's ice sheet will completely melt in coming centuries and probably raise sea levels higher than previously predicted, revealing another impact from the world's changing climate. According to a study released Monday, warm ocean currents and geographic peculiarities have helped kick off a chain reaction at the Amundsen Sea-area glaciers, melting them faster than previously realized and pushing them "past the point of no return," NASA glaciologist Eric Rignot told reporters. Read more and watch video >>
THE CARTOON The cartoon by Banx shows a pair of penguins sitting on an ice floe somewhere in west Antarctica. One of them, who is reading the report about the ice melting tells the other, "I've half a mind to learn to fly".
EXPLANATION If the penguin could fly, it would be able to escape the ice floe (of course, it could always swim).
IDIOM The expression have half a mind to do something is used for threatening to do something, when you probably will not do it. • I've half a mind to tell your parents what you've done!
BACKGROUND Global greenhouse gas emissions over the past decade were the "highest in human history", according to the world's leading scientific body for the assessment of climate change. Without further action, temperatures will increase by about 4 to 5C, compared with pre-industrial levels, it warns, a level that could reap devastating effects on the planet.The stark findings are to be revealed in the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) today, the last in a trilogy written by hundreds of scientists on what is considered the definitive take on climate change. Full story >>
THE CARTOON The cartoon by Brian Adcock from The Independent shows the planet Earth as a cartoon character, sweating profusely and covered with bandages and plasters. The Earth says, "Maybe people will notice if I tweet a selfie."
COMMENTARY The sweat is a clear reference to global warming, and the message seems to be that these days people are more interested in posting and viewing selfies on Twitter than worrying about climate change.
VOCABULARY 1. A selfie is a photo that you take of yourself, usually for use in social media. “Selfie” was the Oxford English Dictionary's word of the year for 2013. 2. To tweet is to send a message using the microblogging and social networking service Twitter. • The "Wall Street Journal" says 44 percent of Twitter's almost one billion registered users have never Tweeted.
David Cameron's commitment to the green agenda will come under the fiercest scrutiny yet this week when top climate-change experts will warn that only greater use of renewable energy – including windfarms – can prevent a global catastrophe. Full story >>
VOCABULARY To avert is to prevent something bad or harmful from happening. • Violence may have been averted with a greater police presence.
BACKGROUND David Cameron has been accused of trying to hide the role of pollution in causing the severe smog affecting parts of the UK after he blamed the problem solely on Saharan dust, while the London mayor, Boris Johnson, said the air seemed "perfectly fine" to him. Some ministers are claiming there is little they can do about the poor air quality, with Cameron insisting the smog is just "a naturally occurring weather phenomenon". Read more >>
THE CARTOON The cartoon by Ben Jennings from The Guardian shows David Cameron with his head in a bucket of Sahara Dust. In the background, we can see the London traffic through a haze of smog.
EXPLANATION The cartoonist plays on a common English idiom. If you bury (or hide) your head in the sand, you refuse to admit that a problem exists or refuse to deal with it. • Parents said bullying was being ignored, and accused the headmaster of burying his head in the sand. The expression alludes to an ostrich, which is believed incorrectly to hide its head in a hole in the ground when it sees danger.
Emergency services were hit by a surge in 999 calls yesterday as the deadly smog tightened its grip on Britain. Complaints about breathing problems rocketed and people were urged to avoid strenuous outdoor activity as the fumes enveloped many parts of the country. David Cameron, who abandoned his regular morning jog, was criticised for dismissing the potent cocktail of toxic particles, factory pollution and dust from the Sahara as a 'naturally occurring weather phenomenon'. Full story >>
VOCABULARY If you choke, or if something chokes you, you stop breathing because something is blocking your throat. • Children can choke on peanuts.