News Mash-up: Humans and the Environment

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. cacophony / kəˈkɒf ə ni / (n.) – a mixture of loud unpleasant sounds

    The cacophony of traffic sounds kept him awake on his first night in the city.

  2. evade / ɪˈveɪd / (v.) – to escape or get away from someone or something

    The criminal evaded the police by hiding inside a locker.

  3. deafen / ˈdɛf ən / (v.) – to make someone unable to hear, either permanently or for a short time

    The loud fireworks deafened her, so she didn’t hear me calling her name.

  4. disorient / dɪsˈɔr iˌɛnt / (v.) – to make someone confused or not able to recognize where they are or where they need to go

    The hallways all look the same. They can disorient anyone who’s new to this building.

  5. resemble / rɪˈzɛm bəl / (v.) – to look like or act like someone or something

    Haru resembles his mom with the way he speaks.


Read the text below.

Humans harming sea life with noise pollution

Far beneath the ocean surface, a cacophony of industrial noise is disrupting marine animals’ ability to mate, feed and even evade predators, scientists warn.

With rumbling ships, hammering oil drills and booming seismic survey blasts, humans have drastically altered the underwater soundscape — in some cases deafening or disorienting whales, dolphins and other marine mammals that rely on sound to navigate, researchers report in a metastudy published Feb. 5 by the journal Science.

These noises and their impacts need more attention from scientists and policymakers, the study says. (Reuters)

Only 3% of Earth’s land untouched by humans

Very little of today’s world resembles planet Earth from 500 years ago. In fact, only about 3% of land surfaces might be ecologically intact — still home to their full range of native species and unblemished by human activity, according to new research.

The finding — published April 15 in the journal Frontiers in Forests and Global Change — is far lower than previous estimates based on satellite images, which suggested around 20% to 40% of land ecosystems were undamaged.

For the new study, however, scientists conducted an extensive survey of forest cover and species losses to understand better what was happening beneath the world’s tree canopies. (Reuters)

These articles were provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Scientists say that a cacophony of industrial noise is disrupting marine animals’ ability to mate, feed, and even evade predators. Do you think most people are aware of this situation? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Noise pollution is a problem outside of the ocean as well. Does your area have issues with noise pollution? What kind of sounds are common there? Why? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Scientists say that very little of today’s world resembles planet Earth from 500 years ago. In your opinion, is that a big problem, or do you feel it’s natural for the Earth to always be changing? Why? Discuss.
  • Currently, only about 3% of Earth’s land surfaces might be ecologically intact. What do you think humans should do with this remaining 3% (ex. build walls to protect it, stay away from it)? Why? Discuss.