Discussion, 1) How can you define the term ‘sustainability’? Discuss with a partne.. 280
1) How can you define the term ‘sustainability’? Discuss with a partner.
2) What is an environmentally sustainable society?
3) How can we live more sustainably?
4) Read through Text 1 quickly and compare your answers to the previous questions with the ideas from the text.
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Sustainability is the ability of the earth’s various natural systems and human cultural systems and economies to survive and adapt to changing environmental conditions indefinitely.
Why should we care about sustainability? Answer: because we are a species in the process of rapidly degrading our own life support system. In 2005, the United Nations Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, a 4-year study by 1,360 environmental experts from 95 countries warned that “human activity is putting such a strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted.”
Scientific research reveals that life on the earth has sustained itself for at least 3.5 billion years despite being subjected to catastrophic changes in environmental conditions. These changes included collisions between the earth and gigantic meteorites, ice ages lasting for hundreds of millions of years, and warming periods during which melting ice raised sea levels and flooded vast areas.
Our species has been around for less than an eye blink of the billions of years that life has existed on the earth. With our big and complex brains we are a very smart species. Within only a few hundred years, we have learned how to take over most of the earth to support our basic needs and rapidly growing wants. But it remains to be seen whether we are a wise species. (1) __________.
To learn how to live more sustainably, and thus more wisely, we need to find out how life on the earth has sustained itself for 3.5 billion years. Our research leads us to believe that the longterm sustainability of life on this planet in the face of drastic environmental changes has depended on three key factors: solar energy, biodiversity, and chemical cycling. (2) ___________.
• Reliance on solar energy: The sun warms the planet and provides energy that plants use to produce food for themselves and for us and most other animals. Without the sun, there would be no plants, no animals, and no food.
• Biodiversity (short for biological diversity): It includes the astounding variety of different organisms; the deserts, grasslands, forests, oceans, and other systems in which they exist and interact; and the free natural services, such as soil renewal, pest control, and air and water purification, that these species and systems provide. (4) ___________.
• Chemical Cycling: Natural processes recycle nutrients, or chemicals that plants and animals need to stay alive and reproduce. Because the earth gets no new shipments of these chemicals, they must be continuously cycled from organisms to their nonliving environment and back. (5) ___________.
Each of us has a role to play in making a transition to more sustainable ways of living during your lifetime. (6) ___________.
1. Read Text 1 again. The last line in some paragraphs is missing. Which line below completes them?
a) These powerful and simple ideas make up three principles of sustainability, or lessons from nature, that we use throughout this book to guide us in living more sustainably.
b) Without biodiversity, most life would have been wiped out long ago.
c) Let’s unite in this exciting adventure.
d) The sun also powers indirect forms of solar energy such as wind and flowing water, which can be used to produce electricity.
e) Without chemical cycling, there would be no air, no water, no soil, no food, and no life.
f) Many argue that a species in the process of degrading its own life support system could not be considered wise.
2. Answer the following questions.
1) What is sustainability? Why should we care about it?
2) How long has life on the earth sustained itself? What catastrophic changes has it withstood?
3) Why is the wisdom of humankind called into question?
4) What are the three key factors on which the longterm sustainability of life on this planet depends? Why is each of them so important?
3. Look at the heading of Text 2. How would you answer the question it poses? Read the text and compare your ideas.
Text 2. HOW CAN CITIES BECOME MORE SUSTAINABLE AND LIVABLE?