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Text 1: Ecology and Environmental Protection


Ecology is the study of the environment and the way plants, animals, and humans live together and affect each other. This word came from the Greek ‘oikos’ which means ‘home’.

The problem of protecting nature is of primary importance today. Through their daily activities people pollute water, air, soil. If we do not stop these activities the damage may become irreversible.

The Earth is suffering many ecological problems. One of them is air pollution. Urban air pollution continues to expand as a result of the increased number of motor vehicles. Exhaust fumes from the engines of automobiles contain a number of polluting substances. Tokyo has such a serious air-pollution problem that oxygen is supplied to policemen who direct traffic at busy interchanges. Milan, Ankara; Mexico City, and Buenos Aires face similar problems. Air pollution destroys the ozone layer which protects the Earth from the dangerous light of the Sun. In accordance with the Kyoto agreement it was suggested to introduce a special carbon tax in order to reduce the greenhouse effect.

One of the climatic effects of air pollution is acid rain. It is damaging to water, forest, and soil resources. It is blamed for the disappearance of fish from many lakes, for the widespread death of forests in European mountains, and for damaging tree growth throughout the world. Acid rain has been reported in areas as far apart as Sweden and Canada, and in parts of the Russian Federation from Moscow to the Urals.

The second important problem is water pollution. Plants and factories put trash into seas lakes and rivers. Many birds and fish die because of the polluted water.

Another acute problem is water shortage resulting from the abuse of arable lands in agriculture.

People also concern over the dangers resulting from massive releases of radioactive materials from nuclear weapons, which, if used on a major scale, could seriously endanger all of humanity. Another concern is accidents at nuclear power plants. In 1978 a nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania suffered a severe accident leading to partial meltdown of its radioactive core. In 1986 the Chernobyl nuclear power plant near Kiev suffered a fire and partial meltdown, resulting in a major release of radioactive particles. Much of northern and eastern Europe experienced heavy nuclear fallout.

Industries located along waterways downstream contribute a number of chemical pollutants, some of which are toxic. Another form of pollution typical for industrial societies is noise.

Waste is an enormous problem too. One third of all waste is burnt which leads to contamination of air, water and soil. That is why waste recycling is so important in most European countries

In recent years the pollution problems have received great publicity. The media have begun to campaign against tin cans and trash. Protection of natural resources and wildlife is becoming a political programme in every country. Numerous anti-pollution acts adopted in different countries have led to considerable improvements in environment. Non-political environmental organisation Greenpeace has gained widespread trust and support.

In many countries purifying systems for treatment of industrial waters have been installed and measures have been taken to protect rivers and seas from oil waters.

To protect nature people should change their attitude to it. Man should stop taking from it everything he needs, he must give it his love instead. Otherwise the payoff will be too high. It is good that eventually people started to realize that they should keep air and water clean by establishing strict pollution control. Efforts are being made to reduce pollution from automobiles by developing pollution-free engines which may eventually eliminate more serious air pollution problems. Moreover, the strong public reaction can facilitate the exercise of the absolute pollution control in various contaminated industries.


Questions for discussion:

1. How do people pollute land, water and air?

2. Why does urban air pollution continue to expand?

3. What was suggested to introduce in order to reduce the greenhouse effect.

4. What do acid rains cause?

5. What accidents at nuclear power plants are mentioned in the text?

6. When were the attempts to control pollution initiated?

7. What systems have been installed in many countries?

8. What is being made to reduce pollution from automobile engines?

9. What should people do to protect nature?

10. What can facilitate the exercise of the absolute pollution control?

Text 2 Transport Ecology

Every human activity has a minor or major effect on the environment. Railway transport industry also impacts negatively on nature by building railroads and industrial enterprises. The operation of railways and rolling stock lead to great fuel and energy consumption and exhaust fumes from diesel locomotives contain a lot of harmful substances.

Construction and functioning of railways is connected with pollution of natural complexes by emissions, drains and waste which break the balance in ecological systems. However, in comparison with other means of transport railways are more environmentally friendly. Thus, electrified railways can carry large volumes of passengers with essentially no pollution at the train, while diesel-powered trains generate fifteen times less harmful substances than automobiles for the same traffic.

The origin of noise from rail traffic usually comes from the engine of rolling stock, wheel-rail interaction, pantograph-contact wire and aerodynamic effects during the movement of the train.

The most efficient way for the reduction of rail noise is the proper track layout and reduction of noise of the diesel engine. However, if the rail nose cannot be reduced in origin, then the solution is in noise barriers. They should be placed as close as possible to the track and have a height no less than 2 meters. In addition noise barriers should be made of special absorbing materials for additional noise reduction.

The transport sector consumes annually 1/3 of the total energy in the world community. Railways have the lowest unit energy consumption compared to other transport modes. Besides, in electrified railways, energy can come from clean forms such as hydro power stations rather than from oil. People have already assessed the advantage of electrified railways especially now when the oil reserves are becoming exhaustible.

Finally, land occupation is much less for rail transport than for other transport modes and specifically three times less than for road transport. For the purposes of comparison with airplanes, it is important to mention that the high-speed Paris-Lyons line (a distance of 427 km), occupies as much space as the Paris airport at Roissy. Different methods based on new technologies can help people use railway transport in the most efficient way.

Questions for discussion:

1.Does human activity effect on the environment?

2.How does railway transport industry impact on nature?

3.How is construction and functioning of railways connected with pollution of natural complexes?

4. What does the operation of railways lead to?

5.What transport is considered to be environmentally ? friendly?

6.What is the origin of noise from rail traffic?

7. How do railways try to reduce noise?

8. How much energy does the transport sector consume?

9.What forms of energy can be used for electrified railways.?

10. What can help people use railway transport more efficiently?

Text3 Green IT

The world's ICT carbon emissions are thought to be equal to the emissions of the aviation industry. The amount of electricity required to send read and delete all the spam email in the world could power millions of homes instead.

Conversely, using videoconferencing instead of flying to the meeting, can considerably reduce air transport carbon emissions. Allowing computers to run smart buildings, where the heating, cooling, ventilation and lightning are managed as economically as possible is another useful application of digital technologies.

However electronic equipment itself should be as efficient as possible. Data centres use huge amounts of electricity to power chips that generate lots of heat, and more power is needed to cool them down. Data centres could be made greener by being built in locations with lots of sunlight. Thus they could be powered by solar energy. At users level there are initiatives like "Blackle", which highlights that black computer screens and white letters would use less power.

When we come to the end of a product's life we should know how to dispose of tones of computers, screens, mobiles, smartphones and cables each year. European countries have signed the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive(WEEE) and encourage everyone to reuse, recycle and recover electrical and electronic equipment. The directive places the responsibility and associated costs of disposal onto the manufacturer or the user. The result is that equipment should be designed and made to last longer. When it is thrown away and replaced by the latest models, much of it can be recycled and sent to developing countries where it can be used again.

Questions for discussion

1. What is the world's ICT carbon emissions equal to?

2.How can IT industry be dangerous for the environment?

3.How could IT industry be good for the environment?

4. What do Data centres use and generate in order to function?

5. What could be done to make Data centres greener?

6. What is the aim of "Blackle"initiative?

7. What document has Europe signed?

8. Who is responsible for disposal of old computers and mobiles?

9. What should be done with the thrown away models?

10. Where can recycled equipment be used again?

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