Podcast. Climate Change.
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Script of the text:

Neil: Hello and welcome to Talk about English, I’m Neil Edgeller.

William: And I’m William Kremer.

Neil: In today’s programme, we’re talking about one of the hottest topics around at the moment - climate change.

William: We hear from an expert on global warming from the University of London and a climate campaigner from the environmental group Friends of the Earth.

Neil: And we speak to people on the street to find out what they’re doing to look after the planet.


I travel by bike every day to work, I don’t want a car.

William: And we hear from Alevtina, a listener to Talk about English in Russia. She tells us her favourite expression in English.


‘Believe in what you do’. This expression is very optimistic in my opinion.

Neil: That’s all coming up in today’s Talk about English.

Presenting the programme with me is William Kremer. Did you ride a bike into work today or did you come in a big polluting car?

William: (Replies)

Neil: And now it’s time for the first of today’s Word Facts.



Today’s first term is “global warming”, global warming. That’s G-L-O-B-A-L and warming:W-A-R-M-I-N-G

Here’s a definition from Dr David Demeritt, an expert in climate change at King’s College


So, global warming means human-caused changes to the global climate. Typically we think of human-caused changes to the global climate as being about warming of the climate, but that isn’t necessarily so. Some bits could get colder, or dryer.


William: So, global warming is our topic today. We’ll have more word facts on common expressions to help you talk about the environment throughout the programme.

Neil: And I’m pleased to say that we’ve been joined in the studio today by Alex Phillips who’s a climate campaigner from the environmental group Friends of the Earth. Thanks for coming along, Alex.

Alex (Replies)

Neil: Perhaps you could just tell us a little bit about what does Friends of the Earth does?

Alex: (Replies)

William: How did you get interested in environmental issues in the first place?

Neil: We’ll be hearing more from Alex later in the programme.

William: But now it’s time for another word fact.



Today’s second term is greenhouse effect, greenhouse effect. That’s G-R-E-E-N-H-O-U-S-E and effect: E-F-F-E-C-T

Here’s a definition from Dr David Demeritt, an expert in climate change at King’s College 


So, the greenhouse effect: the earth has a kind of a thin, little envelope of gases around us and they keep the planet a fair bit warmer than we would be if we had no atmosphere. And that atmosphere serves as a kind of like a blanket, just as the temperature inside a greenhouse is a bit warmer than the outside air. The way in which people change the global climate would be by changing the concentration of gases in the global atmosphere.


Neil: Well, global warming is one of the topics that everyone is talking about at the moment and I think almost everyone who follows the news will know that most scientists, but not all, agree that man’s activities have made the planet

warmer. Alex, why is that a problem?

Alex: (Replies)

William: Most people I speak to are trying to do at least something to slow down the pace of global warming. We asked some people in the street what they’re doing.

Alex, what do you imagine people will say?

Alex: (Replies)

Neil: Well, let’s just listen and find out.


Turning off my computer and my TV set in the university halls.

I’m going on holiday by train this summer, around Europe.

I try to take less flights. I’ll give you an example, for example at Easter I decided not to take a flight and I travelled by train to the Isle of Wight.

I’m trying my best to recycle. I don’t drive.

I travel by bike every day to work, I don’t want a car.

I cycle to work occasionally. I don’t have a car.

I use what they call a ‘life bag’ for my shopping.

I try and persuade my housemates to use public transport instead of driving.

Neil: Well, some interesting points there. People are trying to fly less, to drive less and they seem to be recycling too. But Alex, do you think that’s enough?

Alex: (Replies)

William: When it comes down to it, do we all have to give up flying and driving?

Alex: (Replies)

Neil: We pointed out earlier that most scientists agree that man’s activities have

contributed to global warming, but there are others who say man has no control

over climate change, that this is just part of the earth’s natural cycle. If that’s

the case, is it actually pointless to recycle or ride a bike to work in the hope of

stopping global warming?

Alex: (Replies)

William: This is Talk about English from BBC Learning English dot com. Still to come:

our international caller and details of our latest competition.

Neil: But now…Time for more word facts



Today’s third term is carbon footprint, carbon footprint. That’s

C-A-R-B-O-N and footprint: F-O-O-T-P-R-I-N-T

Here’s a definition from Dr David Demeritt, an expert in climate change at King’s College


So today to get work I rode my bicycle but I might have driven a car and burned petrol. And so for lunch I had a tuna sandwich with some bread, so you know we had to bake the bread and that involved using an oven, we had to ship the materials into the shop where I bought the sandwich. All of those different things involve the consumption of energy. The idea is that in principle we ought to be able to figure out how much greenhouse gases, how much carbon is involved in going about your everyday activities.


Neil: I’ve been trying to reduce my carbon footprint by flying less. Recently I

wanted to travel to Paris and then down to Madrid by train, but when I looked

into it, it was about four times more expensive than flying. This is a real

problem, isn’t it? Lots of people want to be greener, but it can be difficult when

– in Britain at least – flying is so cheap.

Alex: (Replies)

William: And now time to take an international view of our topic as Neil talks on the

phone to a Talk about English listener


N: Hello, who am I speaking to today?

A: Hello Neil, so my name is Alevtina and I am from Russia, from Moscow.

N: Well, welcome to the programme. I wondered if you were worried about climate change.

A: I think that today everybody is because there are so many conversations about it. I

think that everybody could see that there is really change in climate.

I could speak for example about my country, about my city, Moscow. We had a very hot December 2006 for example, and we had a very hot March and April 2007, so I see real change in climate today.

N: Do you take this issue seriously? Are you doing something, for example, to reduce your carbon footprint?

A: Yes, so it’s a bit complicated question for me because on the one hand, for example, I have my driving licence and I can drive but I do not drive very often so I do not contribute in increasing in carbon dioxide levels, but on the other hand, I work for an automotive sector and I contribute in car production in Russia, for example.

N: And do you think you’d be willing to give up driving or flying?

A: Driving yes I think I would be able to do, and we could find some other form of

transportation, such as bikes for example, but flying it would be a definitely more

difficult because today we see this globalisation, there are more international

companies. I fly myself, my colleagues fly so everybody flies today. I think that it will

be more difficult.

N: OK, well thank you very much for your opinions. I want to ask you now, what is your

favourite English expression?

A: I would say “believe in what you do”.

N: And what is it that you like about that expression “believe in what you do”?

A: If you believe in what you do, you’ll have success about your professional life, about your personal life, so this expression is very optimistic in my opinion.

N: OK, thank you very much Alevtina, it was very interesting speaking to you. Goodbye.

A: Thanks a lot Neil, bye.

William: If you would like to be the caller on a future webcast, then just leave us your details on the ‘join us’ section of the webcast.

Neil: It’s an interesting point that Alevtina makes, that in this time of globalisation, it’s very difficult to stop flying. Alex, what can businesses do reduce their carbon footprint?

Alex: (Replies)

Neil: Now it’s time to tell you about this week’s competition. We heard the expression ‘believe in what you do’. We want you to send us a piece of writing which uses this expression naturally and any other vocabulary from today’s


William: The winning entry will be published on the website with corrections and

comments from us and the writer will also get a special BBC Learning English

prize. You can find all the details on the competition page of the website.

Neil: And congratulations to Tanuja Ghosh from India for winning our last writing

competition. You can see her story and our comments now in the archive

section of the webcast site.

William: Time now for more Word Facts.



Today’s fourth term is carbon offsetting, carbon offsetting. That’s C-A-R-B-O-N and offsetting: O-F-F-S-E-T-T-I-N-G

Here’s a definition from Dr David Demeritt, an expert in climate change at King’s College


One way to reduce my greenhouse gas emission is by directly, say, not flying in an airplane.

Alternatively, I might offset those emissions. Principally there are two ways of offsetting.

Initially and most commonly there’s the sense that, you know, well we could plant trees. A

second sense of offsetting would be we could use the money and invest it especially in developing countries to, say, modernise power plants so that they operate more efficiently than they would otherwise.


Neil: Now let’s have a 60 second recap.

What is another expression for climate change?

William: Global warming, global warming.

Neil: How do you spell ‘effect’ in ‘greenhouse effect’?

William: E-F-F-E-C-T.

Neil: What expression means our total individual output of greenhouse gases?

William: Carbon footprint, carbon footprint.

Neil: What is the name of the technique for reducing the environmental impact of a flight?

William: Carbon offsetting. Carbon offsetting.

Neil: What was today’s caller’s favourite expression in English?

William: Believe in what you do. Believe in what you do.

Neil: Alex, climate change is a very serious issue, but are you optimistic about the future?

Alex: (Replies)

Neil: Well that’s all we have time for today, join us again next week for another special Talk about English. Check the website for details. Thank you to our studio guest today Alex Phillips.

Alex: Thank you. Goodbye.

Neil: And goodbye from us.