Climate Change Could Melt Himalayan Glaciers

Scientists have confirmed that, if climate goals are not achieved, up to two thirds of the glaciers in the Himalya region could melt due to climate change by 2100. But even if the global community does meet all climate goals about a third of Himalaya’s glaciers are in danger of melting away. The recent report was compiled by hundreds of researchers over a five year period.

It comes to the conclusion that global warming increases the higher into the atmosphere you get. The Himalayas, therefore, representing the world’s highest mountain range, could heat up by over 4°C, far more than the average warming of the planet, by the turn of the next century.

About 250 million people in the Himalayan region and an additional 1.5 billion in neighbouring river valleys depend on glaciers for clean water and energy. The melting of glaciers could result in the flooding of the Ganges, Indus and Mekong river plains. As a result, millions would lose farming fields and not be able to grow the crops they need.

Since the 1970s climataologists have witnessed the retreat of Himalaya’s glaciers, but this is the first time that a warning has been issued.

In addition to melting glaciers, global warming has caused polluted air from China and India, which has led to changing rainfall patterns across the continent.

India’s cities have experienced water shortages in the past years. About half of the country’s population doesn’t have enough clean water. As a result, about 200,000 people die of water-related diseases every year.

Drang Drung is a 22 km long glacier in the Himalay mountain rage –
Image : Mahuasarkar25

Word

  • achieve = reach
  • additional = extra
  • atmosphere = the mixture of gases that surrounds a planet
  • average = usual, normal
  • cause = lead to
  • century = a hundred years
  • climatologist = person who studies the climate and weather over a longer period of time
  • compile = put together
  • conclusion = final result
  • confirm = to have proof that something is true
  • crops = plants, like wheat or rice which farmers grow as food
  • depend on = need very much
  • due to = because of
  • experience = see when something happens
  • flooding = when land becomes covered with water
  • glacier = large mass of ice that moves slowly down a mountain valley
  • global community = all the people in the world
  • goal = something that you hope to achieve in the future
  • in addition = also
  • issue = to make an official statement
  • melt = turn to water
  • mountain range = group of mountains
  • rainfall patterns = where and when rain falls over a certain period of time
  • recent = only a short time ago
  • researcher = someone who studies a subject closely in order to find out more about it
  • retreat = when something moves back
  • river plains = flat area of land around rivers
  • scientist = a person who is trained in science and works in a laboratory
  • shortage = not enough of something
  • valley = area of low land between two mountains with a river flowing through it
  • water-related = here: because of water problems
  • witness = experience important events

Germany To Close Coal Power Plants By 2038

The German government has announced that the country will shut down all of its coal-fired power plants by 2038 in an attempt to move to cleaner energy. Currently, Germany gets 40% of its energy from coal-fired plants.

The move comes a few years after the German government decided to close down its nuclear power stations in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster. Up to now, 12 of the country’s 19 nuclear power stations have been shut down.

Being without nuclear energy and energy from coal-powered plants means that Germany will be relying heavily on renewable energy. Energy officials say that within the next two decades up to 80% of the country’s energy needs could be coming from renewable sources. At the moment 40% are produced from green energy sources . Last year, renewable energy beat coal power for the first time .

Environmentalists in Germany have welcomed the announcement but stress that phasing out coal power does not come soon enough. They say that the new policy could make Germany a leader in the fight against climate change yet again. At the moment, Germany’s coal-fired plants produce more carbon emissions than any other nation on the continent.

In addition to closing down all coal plants, the government has promised to give support to regions where people rely heavily on coal production for a living. Money will also be needed to help keep electricity prices for consumers down.

Coal-fired power plant in northwestern Germany – Image: Arnold Paul

Words

  • aftermath = the period of time after an event happened
  • announce = to say officially ; in public
  • attempt = try
  • beat = to win against
  • carbon emissions = gas or other substances that are sent into the air and produce greenhouse gases
  • coal-fired = using coal to produce electricity
  • consumer =people who buy a product
  • currently = at the moment
  • decade = ten years
  • electricity = power that is carried by wires and cables and is used to give us light or heat or to make machines work
  • energy needs = the amount of energy and electricity that a country needs
  • environmentalist = person who cares about nature and the world around us
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • in addition = also
  • nuclear power station = building in which electricity is produced by splitting atoms
  • official = person in a high position in an organisation
  • phase out = slowly stop using something
  • policy = the government’s way of dealing with a problem
  • power plant = building in which electricity is produced
  • rely heavily = need very much
  • renewable energy = form of energy that can always be used and constantly replaces itself
  • shut down = close
  • source = place where something come from
  • stress = point out
  • support = money and other things a region needs
  • welcome = to say that something is good; to be in favor of …

Polar Vortex – When Arctic Air Moves South

The polar vortex is a large mass of very cold air that always hovers around the North Pole. It is called vortex because it moves counterclockwise. This area of low pressure lies about 20,000 meters above the surface of the earth.

The polar vortex keeps cold air moving in a tight pattern around the poles. It is usually stronger during the wintertime and weaker in summer. However, sometimes it becomes unstable and breaks out to the south. Because a continent like North America lacks high east-west oriented mountain ranges, the polar vortex can move far south into the continental US . This happens mostly when Greenland and Alaska experience higher than normal temperatures.

When such polar air masses travel southwards, many parts of the American Midwest witness not only temperatures far below zero but also snowfall and heavy winds.

The polar vortex is nothing new, but climatologists suggest that it has been leaving its normal patterns more often in recent years, possibly connected to global climate change.

Polar vortex hits Chicago in 2014 – Image: edward stojakovic

Words

  • climatologist = person who studies the weather and the climate zones of the earth
  • continental US = all the states except Hawaii and Alaska
  • counterclockwise = in the opposite direction of the way hands of a clock move
  • experience = have
  • global climate change = temperatures are steadily rising because of more CO2 emissions in the atmosphere
  • hover = to stay in one place in the air
  • lack = does not have
  • low pressure = condition in the atmosphere that affects the weather; low pressure areas lead to the rise of air and rainfall
  • pattern = here: the regular way something moves
  • suggest = here: to say that something is true
  • surface = top part of the earth
  • tight = very close
  • unstable = to suddenly change its path
  • vortex= a mass of wind or water that spins quickly and pulls things to its center
  • witness = experience, have

The World’s First Solar-powered Airport

The international airport at Kochi in southern India is the first airport in the world to rely solely on solar energy. Last year it won a top environmental award sponsored by the United Nations .

Five years ago airport authorities started looking for new ways to save energy . At first, they put solar panels on the top of one of the passenger terminals. The initial costs were huge, but as time went on solar panels became cheaper. The airport is expected to get back its invested money within the next six years.

Today, over 40,000 solar panels, placed on wide areas of unused land, produce enough energy not only for the airport but for large parts of the city itself. Currently, more than 29 megawatts are produced and output will rise to 40 megawatts, enough to meet the rising energy demands of the city. In addition, the solar panels absorb as much carbon as the planting of 3 million trees

Kochi’s solar-powered airport is only one of India’s projects to increase the use of solar energy and reduce carbon emissions. By 2022 India is expected to increase its solar capacity to 100,000 megawatts.

The project has received attention from several environmental organisations. Especially African countries are considering moving more of their energy production towards solar power.

Solar panels at Cochin Airport in southern India – Image :
Sreejithk2000

Words

  • absorb = here: to take in; to prevent from escaping into the atmosphere
  • attention = to get interested
  • authorities = people or organisations that control or are in charge of an area
  • award = prize
  • carbon = chemical element; it is in a gas that causes global warming
  • carbon emissions = gases that are sent into the air and lead to global warming
  • consider = think about something
  • currently = now, at the moment
  • demands = here: what the city needs every day
  • environmental = about nature and the world around us
  • especially = above all
  • in addition = also
  • increase = to go up
  • initial = at first, beginning
  • invested money = the money that you spend on a project when it starts
  • output = here: energy production
  • passenger terminal = big building where people wait to get on planes
  • place = put something somewhere
  • reduce =go down
  • rely = depend on something
  • rise = go up
  • several = a few, some
  • solar capacity = here: the amount of energy that the country could produce
  • solar energy = energy from the sun
  • solar panel = piece of metal, usually on the roof of a house, which uses the sun’s heat and light to produce electricity
  • solely = only
  • unused = not used

Jakarta – A Sinking City

The Indonesian capital Jakarta is in danger of sinking . According to a new report by environmentalist groups the city could be completely submerged by 2050. Jakarta is one of the most densely populated cities in the world – home to about 10 million people.

Jakarta is sinking at an average of 10 cm a year and , currently, half of it is already below sea level. Even more alarming, the luxurious northern part of the capital, with its modern buildings and high-rises has sunk by 2.5 meters in the past decade.

Sinking is partly due to the 13 rivers that flow through the Indonesian capital. Torrential rainfall in the monsoon season causes flooding on a regular basis.

In addition to natural causes, part of the problem is man-made. The city does not have enough piped water for its growing population. Authorities can only supply about 40% of the clean water that the city needs. Many people draw water out of the ground for drinking and other purposesAs a result the land above the ground water sinks. 

As in many Third World cities, infrastructure cannot keep up with the growing population. There are not enough sewers and a lack of pipes for the city’s water supplies. Indonesian authorities are now considering evacuating and relocating millions of people if the city continues to sink.

Global warming is also playing its part in Jakarta’s dilemma.  As ocean levels are rising more and more water is being forced into the city, causing rivers to sometimes flow upstream. Plans are under way to build a sea wall to keep ocean water out of the city.

 

polluted river in Jakarta
Boy takes a bath in a polluted river in Jakarta – Image : Jonathan McIntosh

Words

  • according to = as reported by …
  • authorities = group of people in the city who have the power to make decisions
  • average = here: in a normal year
  • capital = the most important city in a country; usually where the government is
  • cause = lead to
  • consider = think about
  • currently = at the moment, now
  • decade = ten years
  • densely populated = many people live on a small area of land
  • draw = pull
  • due to = because of
  • environmentalist = person who cares about nature
  • evacuate = here: to move people to a safer area
  • force = the power with which something moves
  • global warming = the increase in the world’s temperatures
  • high-rise = tall building with many floors
  • in addition = also
  • infrastructure = the basic systems that a city or country needs in order to work the way it should: for example roads, hospitals, bridges, public transport etc…
  • lack = not enough
  • natural causes = here: problems that are caused by nature
  • partly = some of it, but not all of it
  • piped water = clean water that runs through tubes to people’s homes
  • purpose = for something you want to do
  • relocate = to move a person to another place
  • sea level = the normal height of the sea, used as a standard for measuring other objects
  • sewer = pipe under ground that carries away waste material and dirty water from houses and factories
  • submerge = to cover completely with water
  • supply = give to the people
  • torrential rainfall = very very heavy rain
  • upstream = in the opposite direction of the way a river normally flows

East African Rift is Growing Quickly

A large crack in the surface of the earth, several kilometres long,   has caused a highway to collapse in Kenya. The area lies on the East African Rift, where the Arabian and African plate meet.

The earth’s crust is broken up into several tectonic plates which are constantly on the move, gliding towards or against each other at various speeds. When these plates collide energy is set free, resulting in earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

The East African Rift stretches over 3000 km from the Gulf of Aden in the north to Zimbabwe in the south.  It consists of several valleys that are filled with long lakes. Because the two plates are moving away from each other Eastern Africa will be separated from the rest of the continent.

A rift is the first phase of a plate that is breaking apart. After millions of years, it can lead to the formation of a new ocean.  A well-known example is a separation of Africa and South America and the creation of the Atlantic Ocean.

Where the earth’s plates move away from each other magma plumes come up through the mantle and cause volcanic activity. Forces are so strong that the plate breaks apart and causes major earthquakes. In many cases, plates move slowly, at a rate of only  a few cm per year and most of the time we don’t notice these movements.

East African Rift from outer space
East African Rift from outer space – Image: Christoph Hormann

Words

  • at a rate = how fast something happens
  • collapse = fall apart; break down
  • collide = crash into each other
  • consist of = is made up of
  • constantly = always
  • crack = a line that you see when something starts to  break apart
  • crust = the hard, outer layer of the earth
  • forces = here: the power or strength of an activity
  • formation = when something new is created
  • earthquake = a sudden shaking of the earth’s surface that can cause a lot of damage and kill people
  • eruption = if something  breaks out suddenly
  • glide = move slowly and quietly
  • magma plumes = hot melted rock from the inner part of the earth which comes to the surface
  • major = here: very strong
  • mantle = part of the earth below the crust
  • notice = to see something happen; to be aware of something
  • resulting in = something that leads to something else
  • separate = divide, split apart
  • several = a few
  • stretch = to spread from one place to another
  • surface = here: the top layer of the earth
  • tectonic = about the movments of sheets of rock that form the earth’s surface
  • various = different

 

Earth Hour 2018 – The World Goes Dark

Once again, the earth has gone dark.  Every year since 2007, thousands of public buildings and landmarks around the globe are switched off  for an hour to raise awareness for climate change. Earth Hour 2018 started in Samoa and spread to all continents.

Numerous sites, including Sydney’s Opera House, the Paris Eiffel Tower and Brandenburg Gate in Germany, went dark at exactly 8.30 pm local time. In addition, millions of private citizens joined in the event and turned off lights in their homes. 187 countries took part in this years Earth Hour , organised by the WWF.

In the past the Earth Hour movement has achieved breakthroughs in  many environmental fields. In 2014 Ecuador’s government banned the use of plastic bags on the Galapagos island. Solar-powered lights were  installed in remote villages in India and 17 million trees were planted in Kazakhstan.

According to the WWF, Earth Hour 2018 will concentrate on the preservation of forests and oceans, as well as wildlife protection. The organisation says that it hopes to raise awareness of global warming especially in the USA, where President Trump has vowed to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

 

 

 

Earth Hour 2012 in Berlin
Earth Hour 2012 in Berlin – Image : David Biene / WWF

Words

  • achieve = reach, get
  • according to = as said by …
  • agreement = document signed by two or more groups or countries
  • ban = forbid
  • breakthrough = here : to do something really important after trying for some time
  • citizen = person who lives in a country or city and has rights there
  • environment = nature and the world we live in
  • especially = above all
  • globe = world
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • in addition = also
  • including = also
  • join = take part in an event
  • landmark = something that is easy to recognise, like a famous building
  • movement = campaign ; a group of people who have the same ideas and want to work together to achieve things
  • numerous = many
  • preservation = to keep something in its original condition
  • public = place where everyone can go to
  • pull out = leave; not be a part of
  • raise awareness = to get people to see and understand a problem
  • remote = far away and hard to get to
  • solar-powered = operated by the sun
  • spread = move to
  • switch off = turn off
  • vow = promise
  • wildlife protection = to save and protect animals that live in the wild
  • WWF = the World Wide Fund for Nature

 

German Cities Plan To Start Free Public Transport

German cities are planning to start free public transport services. The German government has suggested this action after the country, together with 7 other EU member states, have not met EU air quality standards. Pollution, especially in large cities, has become a major problem.

Free public transport will be introduced in five cities including Bonn, Essen and Mannheim by the end of the year.

Some major cities have already experimented with free transport services.  In Estonia’s capital Tallinn, residents have been able to use buses, trams and trains in the city for free since 2013. Paris and Seattle have tried offering free public transport, but only for a short time.

Germany’s decision to provide free public transport could prove to be expensive for its taxpayers. Many transport services get up to half of their money through ticket sales. Thus, the federal government would have to subsidize free transport in cities heavily. Experts claim that it may cost up to 12 billion euros in extra money to run the system for free.

Critics of the proposal say such a measure could put too much burden on public transport systems in large cities. Berlin, Hamburg and Munich already have major problems during rush hours and experts state that inviting more people to use public transport would overload existing systems. As a result, even more money would be needed to expand the country’s public transport services.

In addition to making cities as car-free as possible, car-sharing schemes, low emission zones and incentives for buying electric cars are also measures that are being considered.

City bus in Leipzig
City bus in Leipzig – Image: Christian A. Schröder

Words

  • action =here: something that someone does or wants to do
  • burden = here: to cause problems for …
  • capital = the most important city in a country; where the government is
  • car-sharing scheme = plan in which two or more people travel to places using the same car
  • claim = to say that something is true
  • consider = think about
  • especially = above all
  • expand = make larger and better
  • federal = here: the central government of a country
  • government = people who rule a country
  • in addition = also
  • incentive = something that makes you want to do something
  • including = also
  • introduce = here: start
  • low emission zone = here: an area  in which dirty cars or trucks are not allowed to enter because they produce too much pollution
  • major = very important
  • measure = action, law
  • offer = give someone to use
  • overload = here: not manage
  • pollution = making air, water etc.. dirty
  • proposal = suggestion or plan
  • provide = give
  • public transport = buses, trains, trams etc.. that everyone can use
  • resident = here: a person who lives in a city
  • run = operate
  • rush hour = time of day when buses, trains and trams are full because people are travelling to or from work
  • service = here: help or work that a country gives to its people
  • standard = the level that you have to reach
  • subsidize = to pay part of the costs
  • taxpayer = person who pays money to the government according to the income he/she gets  from working
  • thus = that is why

 

 

Plastic Found in Bottled Water

A new test, conducted by scientists from the State University of New York, shows that bottled water has microplastic particles in them.

250 bottles of water from nine different countries were examined. More than 90% contained tiny pieces of plastic. Sometimes concentrations were as high as thousands of plastic pieces per litre of water. Only 17  examined bottles were free of plastic.  On average, 10 plastic particles, about the width of a human hair, were found in each litre of water.

The companies, whose bottled water was examined, claim that their production met the highest quality standards. In most cases, the plastic gets into the water through the packaging process.

Although the results are not catastrophic scientists and doctors are concerned.  However, they state that there is no proof that the smallest particles of plastic can cause damage to your body. Most of it is turned into waste which leaves the body through faeces.

Apart from bottled water, plastic particles have also been found in beer, tap water, seafood and even in the air.

Bottled water is the fastest growing beverage in the world.  Currently, about 150 billion dollars worth of  water is sold worldwide. Packaged water is especially important for millions of people around the world who do not have access to safe drinking water.

 

Bottled water
Bottled water – Image by Ravitave

 

Words

  • access = the ability to get something
  • although = while
  • beverage = hot or cold drink
  • bottled water = drinking water that is sold in a bottle; sometimes it has bubbles in it
  • claim = to say that something is true
  • concentration = the amount of something in a liquid
  • concerned = worried
  • conduct = carry out
  • contain = to have in them
  • currently = at the moment, now
  • especially = above all
  • examine = to test or look at somehting very closely
  • faeces = solid waste that leaves your body after a certain time
  • microplastic particles = very very small pieces of plastic
  • packaging process = the method used to put  water into the bottle
  • proof = facts that show something is true or correct
  • quality standards = level of quality a company accepts in its products
  • safe = clean
  • scientist = a person who is trained in science and works in a lab
  • state = to say officially
  • tap water = water that comes naturally from a tap rather than a bottle
  • tiny = very very small
  • waste = unwanted material
  • width = how wide somehting is
  • worldwide = around the world

Polar Bears Could Face Extinction Earlier Than Thought

Polar bears could become extinct faster than predicted. That is because there is a shortage of food in their habitat and scientists have now found out that polar bears need more energy than previously thought.

As a result of global warming, Arctic ice is melting quickly, so that polar bears have to travel further in search of food. In a study that has spanned the last three years, scientists found out that polar bears have to travel one and a half times more than in the past.  As a result, they lose weight.

Experiments conducted with modern technology show how polar bears move and behave. High-tech GPS collars were put on 9 female polar bears. Their movements and energy consumption have been tracked over a period of 12 days. Results show that a few of them lost up to 10%of their weight.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, polar bears spend half of their time hunting for something to eat. They rely mostly on young seals as the main source of food, but the seal population is getting scarce because of the melting ice.

A polar bear needs about 12000 kilocalories a day to stay healthy and even more to put on the body fat it needs to survive the winter months.

Over the past ten years, the number of polar bears has declined by 40%. Ice on their habitat, Arctic Sea ice is decreasing at a rate of 14% per decade.  It is currently at its lowest level in 40 years.

 

Polar bear feeding on a dead seal
Polar bear feeding on a dead seal – Image: AWeith

Words

  • according to = as reported by …
  • behave = act in certain situations
  • body fat = here: the fat an animal needs to protect itself from the cold weather
  • collar = band of leather or plastic that is around an animal’s neck
  • conduct = carry out
  • currently = at the moment
  • decade = ten years
  • decline = to go down
  • decrease = become lower
  • energy consumption = the amount of energy you need and use up
  • extinct = to die out and not exist anymore
  • global warming = increase in the atmosphere’s temperature caused by more carbon dioxide and other gases
  • further = a longer distance
  • GPS = system that shows where your position is on earth through a system of radio signals
  • habitat = natural home of a plant or animal
  • lose weight = become thinner
  • melt = when ice turns into water
  • predict = to say that something will happen before it does
  • previously = at an earlier time
  • rely = here: eat
  • scarce = not very much left
  • scientist = person who is trained in science and works in a lab
  • seal = large sea animal that eats fish and lives near coasts
  • shortage = not enough
  • source = where something comes from
  • span = period of time between two events
  • study = piece of work that is done to find out more about a subect
  • survive = stay alive
  • track = monitor, watch closely
  • World Wildlife Fund = organisation that wants to protect the environment and save animals and plants