Get some reading comprehension practice (and practice
listening comprehension as well!) with one or both of these talks about solving
energy and other environmental problems. Michael Pawlyn, in Using Nature’s
Genius in Architecture, proposes using nature’s design strategies to
develop sustainable human systems.
In A Clean Energy
Proposal, Jennifer Granholm suggests a better way to create ‘clean’ energy (and jobs) in the
U.S. by encouraging competition between states rather than forcing one national
energy policy on the whole nation.
To download a pdf of this exercise instead of doing the interactive practice below, right-click here.
These TED talks suggest a lot of ways to produce or save
energy, reduce global warming, and resolve some other pressing environmental
problems. Before watching them, think for a moment about the strategies you
expect them to mention.
What are some problems with our current situation?
solutions have you already heard?
Which do you think will work best?
(Thinking about what you already know about a topic will help you understand and remember it better. It's an important reading comprehension strategy.)
Then watch and listen for better ideas-- and also think about potential drawbacks (problems) their proposals might have.
Try listening to each talk (or reading it-- see the "Interactive transcript just below the video) in English first, to see how much you can understand. Answer these questions. (It’s OK to look back at the transcript-- this is not a
test of your memory.) After taking the quiz and checking your answers, you can
always read it or watch it with subtitles in your primary language if you want.
Choose the best answer for each question, then check your
answer. You can try again if your first answer was wrong. The first 6 questions
are from the Nature’s Genius talk, the last 6 are from the Clean Energy
Proposal. After each question, return to the top and click on the arrow for the next question, or choose "Show all questions" to see all 12 at once. Scroll back after each question.
(For questions 1 and 10, you must choose all the correct check marks before your answer is complete. If it says "4/5", go back and change the check marks until it says "5/5," which means all 5 are correct.)
Which of these are the three big changes Michael Pawlenty says people need to make?
Pawlyn calls the Eden Project an example of how bio-mimicry can allow “radical increases in resource efficiency.” ‘Radical’ can have several meanings.Here it means:
from the roots
extreme left-wing-- the opposite of conservative
big enough to change the whole nature of the activity
The Cardboard to Caviar Project is NOT an example of
a linear system
a closed-loop system
making a profit from materials that would usually be thrown away in landfills.
Pawlyn says that when Julius Caesar went to North Africa,
he admired the cedar trees on the coast.
he cut down trees and made the Sahara a desert.
he found forests in areas that are now desert.
he planted trees in the Sahara.
There is a beetle in Namibia that survives in the desert by drinking water that condenses on its shell at night.
Pawlyn discusses some ways to use the salts that would crystallize out of the seawater that they use in the Sahara Forests project. Which of these uses does he NOT suggest:
sodium chloride for building blocks
sodium chloride to add flavor to the maintenance crew’s meals
lithium for batteries
phosphates for fertilizers
Jennifer Granholm calls herself a (political) scientist. She shared “some empirical data from my lab.” What is her lab?
The Electrolux Lab in Greenville
.The Center for Science in Michigan
the political processes of democracy
the National Institute of Health
What do you think ‘empirical’ in the question above means? (Use the context if you don’t already have an idea.)
current or recent
Why did Electrolux refuse the governor’s offer?
She didn’t offer enough incentives.
They could pay much lower wages in Mexico than in Michigan.
Union officials would not cooperate with them.
They wanted to stop making refrigerators.
Why does she say the “Race to the Top” for education might be a good model for creating more clean energy jobs? Mark all the answers she gives.
What does Granholm mean by “Republican and Democratic governors love to cut ribbons”?
There’s a big political advantage in being the first to make the cuts.
They want to be seen as winners, like the first runner that breaks the ribbon at the finish line of a race.
They love to be seen providing new jobs. (The ribbon-cutting refers to an American custom of having public officials participate in the opening of new factories, etc.)
What does Granholm mean by asking people at TED to “go around Congress”?
Go around to different Congressmen and women and try to explain what a great idea a Clean Energy Race to the Top would be.
Congress is just going around in circles anyway.
Bypass Congress by getting state governors together at a meeting to agree on a Clean Energy Race to the Top.
Offer private incentive money to the states for a Clean Energy Race to the Top without waiting for Congress to act.
How did you do? If you practice your English reading
comprehension skills-- even just by thinking about what you are reading, making
predictions, and asking yourself questions-- it should help you get more from
your reading-- and improve your English vocabulary as well.
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