One of the biggest and most ancient lakes of world is situated nearly in the center of Asia in a huge stone bowl set 445 m above sea level. Everyone who has been to its shores is impressed and charmed by the grandeur, size, and unusual might of this Siberian miracle of nature.
Everybody visiting Baikal for the first time is given a glass of water straight from the lake. At the Baikal restaurant, lake water is served as a local specialty.
Visitors can look down through water 20 metres deep and count the stones on the bottom. In this crystal-clear water some 150 types of plant and fish live. Many of them are found nowhere else in the world.
The Protection of Lake Baikal
More than forty years ago a pulp-and-paper factory was built on the shore of Lake Baikal, though scientists disapproved of the project. They warned that the purificationsystem was imperfect, but the factory continued to function. As a result, about 1,500 million cubic metres of industrial waste water have been discharged into the lake, that is, more than 50 per cent of the world's purest water have been ruined. The whole ecological system of the lake has changed greatly. Growth rates of Baikal fishes and seals have slowed down, some organisms found in no other place but Lake Baikal are disappearing. Trees are dying from the dust and gas blow-outs of the factory.
It was the problem of Lake Baikal that made our people think seriously about the principles of man-nature relations. After many discussions on Lake Baikal in the 1960s, resolutions and laws on environmental protection began to appear and an article in the USSR Constitution was formulated. However, the decisions on the protection of Lake Baikal adopted at that time did not solve the problem. Truthful information about the real situation in the area was kept from the press and the people.
In 1990s all those who are not indifferent put the problem of Lake Baikal sharply in the press, among public and in the government. A special government commission has been set up to work out new, optimal and efficient measures for the protection of the lake. The drafts drawn up by this commission were examined and a resolution has been passed. Lake Baikal and its shores have been declared a specially protected zone of the country.
Meanwhile the dumping of industrial waste into Baikal continues, and bilious smoke still rises from the plant 24 hours a day.
For over 30 years this very issue has been the centerpiece of discussions and arguments between scientists, environmentalists, developers, industrialists and governmental officials. The environmentalists lost the battle to stop construction of this huge factory on the shores of Baikal in the 1960's. Since then, there have been various efforts to use common sense and find an alternative to the existence of the Pulp and Paper Plant at the southernmost point of Baikal. Some of these efforts have been more obvious, but mostly they have consisted of "routine" work by researchers, scientists, and those who cared.
Dozens of international expeditions that worked on Baikal during recent years have come to the unanimous opinion: Baikal remains the cleanest reserve of fresh water, but the local alterations in its ecosystem near the Baikal pulp-and-paper plant and the region where the Selenga River flows into Baikal, impose their negative effects on its inhabitants.
The intensive exploitation of the Baikal Territory adversely affects the primordial, easily injured Siberian nature. We haven't yet learnt to live in harmony with it, and the way to this seems to be long.
Find the cognate words for the words given in bold.
Make a list of ecological problems of Lake Baikal.
What measures were taken to save Lake Baikal?
Why do the protection of the lake so important?
Are there any common problems between lake Baikal and the Amur river?
Look through the words and try to guess what problems we are going to tell about.
Millions of years ago, the northwestern part of Uzbekistan and southern Kazakhstan were covered by a massive inland sea. When the waters receded, they left a broad plain of highly saline soil. One of the remnants of the ancient sea was the Aral Sea, the fourth largest inland body of water in the world.
The Aral is an inland salt-water sea with no outlet. It is fed by two rivers, the Amu Darya and Syr Darya. The fresh water from these two rivers held the Aral's water and salt levels in perfect balance.
In the early 1960's, the Soviet central government decided to make the Soviet Union in cotton and increase rice production. Government officials ordered the additional amount of needed water to be taken from the two rivers that feed the Aral Sea.
Large were built across both rivers, and an 850-mile central canal with a far-reaching system of "feeder" canals was created. When the irrigation system was completed, millions of acres along both sides of the main canal were flooded.
Over the next 30 years, the Aral Sea experienced a severe drop in water level, its shoreline receded, and its salt content increased.
The marine environment became hostile to the sea life in it, killing the plants and animals. As the marine life died, the fishing industry suffered.
The Soviet scheme was based on the construction of a series of dams on the two rivers to create reservoirs from which 40.000 km of canals would eventually be dug to divert water to the fields. The fields flourished but with such vast areas of monoculture, farmers had to use massive amounts of chemical pesticides. And with irrigation, salt was drawn to the surface of the soil and accumulated. When the Tahaitash Dam was built on the Amu Darya near the city of Nukus, there was no water left in the riverbed to flow to the Aral Sea, hundreds of kilometers away. To the surprise of the inhabitants of Muynak, the Aral Sea began to shrink.
At first, they assumed it was a temporary condition and dredged a canal to the receding shore so boats could continue to ply the sea and still dock at the wharves. But the effluents that did reach the sea were laced with a deadly mix of salt and pesticides from the cotton fields. Fish populations plummeted and eventually, when the canal was 30 km long and the sea continued to move away, the boats were abandoned to lie like great leviathans on sands that were once sea bottom.
The Aral Sea was a rich source of fish. Some 20 species were identified by biologists, including sturgeon and catfish. The town of Muynak, located on the edge of the sea, was a fishing town that also attracted tourists to its seaside vistas. In the 1950's, the Soviet Union decided the great plains were ideal for growing cotton. The critical factor to make it happen was water. Two great rivers feed the Aral Sea, the Amu Darya and Syr Darya.
Today, Muynak is a desert town more than a hundred kilometers from the sea. The only reminders of the once thriving fishing activity are the rusting hulks of ships and an ancient fish plant. The sea has shrunk to two-fifths of its original size and now ranks about 10th in the world. The water level has dropped by 16 metres and the volume has been reduced by 75 percent, a loss equivalent to the water in both Lakes Erie and Huron. The ecological effect has been disastrous and the economic, social and medical problems for people in the region catastrophic. All 20 known fish species in the Aral Sea are now extinct, unable to survive the toxic, salty sludge.
Changes to one part of a region often lead to other changes. Here are some of the results of the shrinking of the Aral Sea:
As water has been drained from the rivers for cotton farming, the sea's water has become much saltier.
As more water has been taken from the rivers, the sea's water level has decreased by over 60%.
Drinking water supplies have dwindled, and the water is contaminated with pesticides and other agricultural chemicals as well as bacteria and viruses.
The farms in the area use some highly toxic pesticides and other harmful chemicals. For decades, these chemicals have been deposited into the Aral Sea. When the wind blows across the dried-up sea, it carries dust containing these toxic chemicals.
Lakes and seas tend to have a moderating effect on the climate. In other words, the land right next to a body of water tends to be warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer than land that's not near the water. As the Aral Sea has lost water, the climate has become more extreme.
So a centuries old way of life has disappeared in decades. The vast area of exposed seabed is laced with pesticides, so when the wind blows, dust storms spread salt and toxic substances over hundreds, if not thousands of kilometres. It's estimated that 75 million tons of toxic dust and salts are spread across Central Asia each year. If the Aral Sea dries up completely, 15 billion tons of salt will be left behind.
IV.Find international words in the text.
V.Find Passive structures in the text.
VI.Look at the picture and tell about the tragedy of the sea using the text.
VII.Make a plan of the text.
IX.Home assessment. Try to make up a list of urgent measures to save the Aral Sea. Present your works and discuss them.
Lesson №9Charles Darwin
I. Read the text once and say what discovery Ch. Darwin made. Charles Robert Darwin was born in Shrewsbury on the 12th of February, 1809. His mother died when he was eight, so he was brought up by his sisters and his father Robert, who was a doctor.
Charles went to school in Shrewsbury, but he hated it! He did not pay attention in class, he copied from his fellow pupils and he forgot everything he had learned after a day or two. He preferred to spend his time collecting shells, rocks and insects. When he was 16, Charles went to Edinburgh University to study medicine. His father wanted him to become a doctor, but Charles didn`t like medicine. He found the lectures dull, the subject boring and he hated the operations he had to watch – he was sick at the sight of blood. Charles didn`t quite dare tell his father how much he hated medicine, but he got his sisters to do it for him.
So, at the age of 19, Charles went to Cambridge University to study religion, but … he hated that too! He didn`t spend much time on books, preferring to pass his time hunting and collecting beetles.
Finally, something happened to Charles that he didn`t hate. A friend invited him on a scientific expedition on his ship called the Beagle. Charles really wanted to go. The voyage began on the 27th of December, 1831. It was a 5-year expedition to exciting unknown places. Although Charles wasn`t a scientist and he was terribly seasick, he had a wonderful time on his voyage. He had a great chance to study lots of plants and animals. Charles also found the fossils of a rodent the size of an elephant and a horse-like creature. It was clear that these animals had become extinct long ago, but why? It was all so interesting that in December 1832, Charles decided to devote his life to natural science.
In 1935, the Beagle landed at the Galapagos Islands where Charles saw giant tortoises and other interesting creatures. Charles found that each of the islands had its own variety of tortoises and finch. The animals on different islands were a little bit different.
It seemed very strange to Charles. According to the accepted view at the time, all animal species were created by God for ever. So God must have designed different animals for each island…
Returning from his 5-year Beagle adventure, Darwin had no time to relax. So much to do, so many scientific questions left unanswered! He later said that the two years after his voyage were the busiest of his whole life.
Charles started writing a book about his adventures. He also started to think about the Galapagos finches and about what he called the `transmutation of species`, the slow changing of one species into another, which today is called evolution. Darwin had formulated his theory of evolution by 1838. In 1844, he wrote 230 pages of his future book. But he just showed it to a few friends and didn`t publish it. He knew it would upset religious people. He once said publishing his idea would be like `confessing a murder`.
When The Origin of Species was finally published in 1858, many people got really angry because it didn`t agree with the Bible. In this book, Darwin presented his idea that species evolve from more primitive species through the process of natural selection, which works spontaneously in nature. Charles had carefully avoided saying anything specific about the evolution of human beings, but it didn`t take a genius to get the point. If evolution was true, it must mean that humans, like all other living things, were descended from some primitive creature or other. Most people decided this creature was a monkey.
By the time Darwin died in 1882, other scientists began to think he might be right. Today, many scientists agree that living things change, but that evolution is much more complicated than Charles realized.
Interviewer: Dr Morgan. I believe you've been doing some research into the behaviour of teenagers.
Dr Morgan: Yes, that's right.
Interviewer: Can you tell me something about it?
Dr Morgan: Of course. As a psychiatrist, I naturally look at connections between human behaviour and the brain...
Dr Morgan: .. .and we now know that the brain grows very quickly between the ages of ten and twelve in normal children. This means that it is at its biggest during the early teenage years. And there are two parts of the brain that are the last to grow — the frontal and parietal lobes. The frontal lobe includes thinking and motor areas and parietal is mainly a sensory area.
Interviewer: Why are they so important?
Dr Morgan: Because they control things like reasoning, judgment, our
understanding of space, and planning for the future.
Interviewer: These are all things that most teenagers are not very good at?
Dr Morgan: That's right. And it may be because those lobes are so big. It could
explain why teenagers often seem emotional and can be clumsy.
Interviewer: Can they do anything about it?
Dr Morgan: It's hard to say. But one thing we are sure about is that the brain needs exercise, just like any other part of the body, in order to develop
Interviewer: But how can we exercise our brains?
Dr Morgan: Well, try learning a foreign language. Playing a new game, or taking a musical instrument. Anything that makes the brain work hard. If teenagers use their brains in this way, their brains will perform better when they are adults.
Interviewer: That's really good advice! Thanks for being with us today,
Dr Morgan. Dr Morgan: It was a pleasure.
In the text of the interview find three examples of how to exercise your brain.
Have you ever tried any of these activities?
Read the definitions of the words and find their Russian equivalents.