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

Hi there.... I have an another question that in news healine why we use present simple tense to refer past events....?

Hello vishesh,

Ultimately, the reason people speak a language one way is simply because that's the way the community of speakers of that language have come to speak it.

In the case of the present simple in newspaper headlines, it might be helpful to think about space - present simple forms are much shorter than present perfect forms. Although the present perfect is generally used to announce events, it takes up a lot more space on croweded newspaper pages, and the present simple is a solution to this problem.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks sir it will really help me out.......
I hv an more questions...
1.I m in deep thought that actual uses of past simple tense and past perfect tense......?
2.Is there any difference between them...?
And 3.In what condition we can use them seperately......?

Hi vishesh,

We're happy to try to help our users as best we can, but we do ask that you try to find answers to such questions in our Grammar Reference first. If you take a look there, you'll find several explanations of these verb forms on pages such as past tense, past simple and past perfect.

After you've referred to those pages, read the explanations and tried the exercises, if you still have questions, you're welcome to ask them, but please consider two things. First, please ask them on an appropriate page (e.g. a question about the past simple on a page that deals with the past simple in some way). There is a search box on the top right of every page to help you find appropriate pages. Second, please explain to us what you understand or don't understand as specifically as possible. You will learn much more if you try to explain this to us, and we will be better able to answer your questions.

Thanks and best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi vishesh,

This is explained in some detail on our present tense page. After reading the explanation, please let us know if you have any questions.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks a lot, it will really help me out.....

Hello Admins,

I have some problems with regard to these sentence:-

1. I came late but met her or I came late but 'I' met her.
2. I'll come there after having eaten or I'll come there after I have eaten.
3. Ask a question and I answer you.
4. I work, sang and slept. Are these correct? :-)

Hi Charles,

1. Both are grammatically correct - you can leave out the subject pronoun sometimes when the subject is clear.
2. Both are grammatically correct, though it would be better to say 'go there' or 'come' (without 'here' or 'there') than 'come there', as 'come' implies the place you are in now, and 'there' implies a place you are not in now.
3. Ask a question and I'll answer you.
4. If this is one sentence, then all the verbs should be in the same tense. 'work' is present simple, but the other two are simple past.

By the way, our primary purpose here is to help people use LearnEnglish and answer questions that may arise while they are using it. We do our best to help people like you who have questions that are not related to the site, but our priority is to help people who are using our materials, so in the future it may take us some time to reply to such questions.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much for your excellent works. But I have the last questions I would help me to know about practising in speaking skills and listening skills. I have some problems when speaking and listening, though I like more speaking than writing. :-)Have a good work.

Hi Charles,

I'd recommend you use one the series under Listen & Watch to practise your speaking and listening. Many users really like Word on the Street, for example. Choose an episode and watch the first video. Watch it again. Then watch it while reading the Transcript. Make a note of phrases that are difficult to pronounce, and repeat them until they become easier to say. Then watch the video again a couple of times and do the exercises.

The more time you spend working on each video, the more you will learn.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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