Facts about the state of the global environment read like quotes on a poster for an epic Hollywood movie. However, many people feel that governments are not taking the environment seriously enough.

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Environmental Protest Groups

Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got ’till it's gone
They paved paradise and they put up a parking lot

(Joni Mitchell – Big Yellow Taxi)

Facts about the state of the global environment read like quotes on a poster for an epic Hollywood movie – expanding deserts in Africa, huge forest fires in Indonesia, serious shortages of fish in Europe, thousands of deaths from air pollution in Brazil, disappearing forests in the Amazon, melting ice-caps and increasing radiation levels in the polar regions. But just as there is no evil Lex Luther or Ernst Blofeld responsible for these disasters, there is no Superman or James Bond to save the world. The human race has caused these problems and we are going to have to work together to solve them.

However, many people feel that the governments of countries around the world are not taking environmental issues seriously enough. To allow the voices of concerned people to be heard, a large number of protest groups have been set up by ordinary people to raise awareness of the issues, and to put pressure on politicians to act before it is too late. A few of the organisations have become household names, particularly Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. Two smaller groups, Surfers Against Sewage and Reclaim The Streets, are less well known, but take themselves just as seriously.

Surfers Against Sewage (SAS)

Surfers Against Sewage was founded in 1990 by water sports enthusiasts, who were becoming more and more concerned about the health risks they faced when using beaches in Cornwall in the UK. Human and toxic waste pumped into the sea was causing serious illnesses, and beach goers felt that they were “playing Russian Roulette with their health” every time they went into the water.

SAS alerted people to the problem by going to public events with their surfboards, where they handed out leaflets wearing wetsuits and gasmasks. They soon attracted the attention of the media and other concerned water users from around Britain and were able to put pressure on the government to ban dumping untreated waste in the sea, rivers and lakes. The group was so successful that in 1998, only 8 years after they started campaigning, the government agreed to spend 8.5 billion pounds on cleaning up Britain’s aquatic environment.

Surfers Against Sewage has acquired a cool image over the years. In 1999 the director of The Beach, a Hollywood blockbuster starring Leonardo Di Caprio, wanted to use the SAS logo on actors’ backpacks. SAS refused permission however, because they were concerned about the environmental damage that making the film had caused to the tiny tropical island of Phi Phi in Thailand.

Reclaim The Streets (RTS)

Reclaim The Streets was started in London in 1991 to campaign “FOR walking, cycling and cheap, or free, public transport, and AGAINST cars, roads and the system that pushes them.” RTS began by protesting against road building through unspoilt areas of the British countryside, and now have expanded their activities to draw attention to environmental, political, economic and social injustice around the world.

RTS campaigns by stopping traffic and turning roads and motorways into huge street parties. Members of the group dig up tarmac and plant trees, make beaches and paddling pools for children to play in, decorate the street with colourful banners, and give out free food and drink. A huge sound system is set up, bands, jugglers and clowns perform, and hundreds or even thousands of people dance and party. The carnival is usually broken up by the police after a few hours, and in the past some of the demonstrations have been marred by violence between police and protesters.

RTS doesn’t have any clear aims, it says that it is a ‘disorganisation’ rather than an organisation, since there is no one in charge, but the methods that the group uses have caught on, and are now used worldwide. As the RTS website says, “The Reclaim The Streets idea has grown up and left home, street parties and suchlike often happen without anyone in RTS London hearing about them until afterwards.”

Protest and the Internet

Both SAS and RTS have extensive websites providing information about their activities, and providing links to like-minded groups around the world. It seems that nowadays the Internet is helping more and more people express their dissatisfaction with the status quo, and work together to find solutions to the problems that the modern world faces.

Glossary

aquatic (adj): living or growing in, happening in, or connected with water

blockbuster (n): a book, film, etc that is very popular and successful

epic (n): a story or film which is very long and contains a lot of action

Ernst Blofeld: the villain in some James Bond films

found (v): to start an organization, especially by providing money

household name (n): someone or something that everyone knows

issue (n): an important subject or problem that people are discussing

Lex Luther: the villain in Superman

mar (v): to spoil something

paddling pool (n): a shallow pool that small children can play in

polar (adj): relating to the North or South Pole

Russian roulette (n): a very dangerous game of chance where each player aims at their own head with a gun which has one bullet in it and five empty chambers (= spaces where bullets could go)

status quo (n): the situation that exists now, without any changes

tarmac (n): a thick, black substance that is sticky when hot and is used to cover roads

toxic (adj): poisonous

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Discussion

Comments

Hello arseni88,

Please remember the House Rules here on LearnEnglish, which ask members not to post or ask for personal information such as email addresses, Facebook names, Skype names and so on. This is because we have some members who are under 18 years of age and so we must be careful with personal information of this type.

As far as advice on how to start learning English goes, it's difficult for me to give you concrete advice without knowing more about your needs, your abilities and your interests.  However, I can give you some general suggestions.

First of all, take some time to explore the site.  Use the links at the top of the page to go to different sections and see what kinds of materials are available.  Get a feel for the level of difficulty of different sections so you can see what will be most useful to you at the moment.

Second, start with something that is not too high a level, such as our Elementary Podcasts.  Work through the episodes, and remember that you can use the transcript to help you, or to read and listen at the same time after you have done the exercises.

Third, keep a vocabulary notebook as you work.  Organise it by topic ('work', 'family', 'food' etc) and add words and phrases to it as you go through the material.  Test yourself regularly to see if you remember the words.

Finally, try to find time to practise English during your regular day.  Perhaps you have a friend who is also learning English, with whom you can practise speaking, or perhaps you can practise by yourself, just speaking English when you are alone at home or at work.  This kind of practice is great for developing fluency in speaking, so that when you need to use English in the 'real' world you are ready and confident.

I hope those suggestions are helpful.

Best wishes,

 

Peter Moran

The LearnEnglish Team

Good evening! My question to you about definitins of words. For instance, When I read books, magazines, or other materials, I meet a lot of unknown words. However, as you know,a lot of words have several different definitions, but I require one of those definitions. How do you think in such cases I should learn all definitions of that word, or just that which is related to the word's meaning in the text or book? It is very major thing for me, so I have decided to seek advice from you. Thanks in advance!

Hello Abbas Eli,

I think it's most useful to learn vocabulary according to topic rather than word, so I would certainly record vocabulary (in a vocabulary notebook) in that way, listing for example words related to finance (bank, finance, credit etc) rather than all the different meanings of one word (bank as finance, as the side of a river, as a manoeuvre by a plane etc). It can be interesting to look at different definitions, but I would focus on the relevant meaning and organise the record by topic as a general rule.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team 

I am completely agree with you, Peter. Thank you very much!

Sincerely,

Abbas

Hello Dear thanks for your helping but i don,t have something to listen only i have book so my i get some download video to help me correct pronunciation

Thanks

Hi kush1,

Our videos are not available for download, but most of the audio on our site (for both, look under Listen & Watch) is available for download. Any of them could be really useful as models for pronunciation.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Need to know which of these two is right. Or are they both OK?
* The tickets have yet to arrive
OR
* The tickets are yet to arrive.

I told a student recently it's the first one but he insists that he has always used/ heard the second one.

Please help.

Hello Cbh066,

Both of these are correct in modern English and have the same meaning. They are used to describe something which is expected but which has not yet happened.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi sir, i m bit confused that in what condition we can use present tense to refer the past and the future time.?

Thanks a lot sir ....

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