If this post asked you to quickly analyse your relationship with consumption, what would you have to say about how much of what you need you buy in one shopping? Do you splash out on whims? While thinking hard about what makes people (that is, Athenians) happy, Aristotle realised that happiness had to do [then – as I tend to believe it still does now, 2,500 years later] with living among people who do not have more than you. This shifts the reference from a real feeling of happiness for what one is and has to happiness – or sadness, for that matter – by comparison.
There is no denying that Darwin’s theory on the origin of species, and on the descent of man marked a turning point in the development of science and its physical branches. But there is a long way away from the publication of his ground-breaking theory (1859) and the cultural civilization as some of the earth-dwellers experience today.
As usual, I expect that you, too, have an opinion about what is happening around you; it's all down to taking a stance, even if the voice you use sounds more like a whisper! You're not alone.
PLANET EARTH IS 4,600 MILLION YEARS OLD
[adapted from New Success at First Certificate,
by Robert O’Neill, Michael Duckworth & Kathy Gude - workbook]
It is difficult for us to think about such an enormous length of time, but if we simplify it into an understandable idea, we can compare the planet Earth to a person of forty-six years of age.
Nothing is known about the first seven years of this person's life, and very little information exists about the middle period; we know that it was only at the age of forty-two that Earth began to flower.
Dinosaurs and great reptiles did not appear until one year ago, when the planet was forty five. Mammals arrived only eight months ago; in the middle of last week man-like apes became ape-like men, and at the weekend, the last Ice Age covered Earth.
Modern man has been around for four hours. During the last hour man discovered agriculture. The Industrial Revolution began just a minute ago. During those sixty seconds of biological time, Modern Man has made a rubbish tip of Earth.
He has increased his numbers to terrible proportions, has caused the death of hundreds of species of animals, has robbed and destroyed the planet in his search for fuels; now he stands, like a violent, spoilt child, delighted at the speed of his rise to power, on the edge of the final mass destruction and of killing all the life which exists in the solar system.
A. Choose the best answer.
1. The passage tells us that
A a great deal is known about how Earth was created.
B life on Earth began relatively recently.
C more is known about the earlier part of Earth's life than the middle part.
D scientists are well-informed about the middle part of Earth's life.
|Michelangelo's Adam and Eve|
2. We are informed by the author that
A the dinosaurs appeared during the middle period.
B mammals and great reptiles appeared at the same time.
C there were more than forty-five kinds of great reptiles.
D ape-like men appeared before the last Ice Age.
3. The author is mainly interested in
A the time when man first evolved from apes.
B what has happened since the Industrial Revolution.
C the effects of farming.
D the period before the last Ice Age.
4. It would appear that the main danger ahead is that
A man will destroy everything on Earth.
B man will use up all the fuels.
C there will be a population explosion.
D more species of animals may die out.
B. Read the following passage from a publicity letter and answer the questions.
OZONE LAYER Ozone-damaging gases such as CFCs, which are used in aerosols, packaging, building and refrigeration materials, should no longer be used.
Our fight to persuade people to help save the ozone layer is now really beginning to work.
TROPICAL RAINFORESTS Rainforests are being rapidly destroyed. Friends of the Earth is leading the fight to stop the trade in hardwoods and end forest destruction.
WATER POLLUTION Much of our drinking water still does not come up to acceptable standards, and too many of our rivers are polluted with chemicals and sewage.
We lead the fight to clean up Britain's drinking water and stop water pollution.
SAFE ENERGY Friends of the Earth believes in safe energy policies and energy-saving measures. Nuclear power is dangerous and expensive – and produces radioactive waste which lasts for centuries.
GREENHOUSE EFFECT Global warming, caused by changes in the atmosphere, will bring climate changes and sea-level rises in coming years. We are demanding immediate world-wide action – including sensible energy, forestry and industrial policies – to limit the danger.
Say if the following statements are true (T) or false (F).
1. CFC gases are found in some building materials. T/F
2. The government has forbidden all packaging materials that contain ozone-damaging gases. T/F
3. None of the drinking water in Britain meets acceptable standards. T/F
4. All Britain's rivers are polluted with sewage. T/F
5. Car exhaust fumes are partly responsible for acid rain. T/F
6. Stopping the trade in hardwoods would help end the damage to rain forests. T/F
7. Friends of the Earth says it is not in favour of nuclear power stations. T/F
8. The level of the sea will rise as a result of the greenhouse effect. T/F
Now read the passage again and find a word or phrase that means:
1. the part of the atmosphere being damaged by CFC gases;
2. made dirty;
3. the water and other waste from bathrooms and toilets;
4. the gases from car engines;
5. a large wood in a tropical country;
6. the kind of power made by using atomic reactions;
7. unwanted material;
8. a building made of glass;
9. relating to the whole world (two words).