Understanding the main idea

Listen to Dr Gandley speak to a group of new students at his Engineering Department. For each extract, tick the main point he is trying to make.

Extract 1

a   It is unsafe to eat or drink in the lab.

b   You should wear safety clothing at all times.

c   You must always follow the safety rules.

d   You should keep doors and window closed.

Extract 2

a   The college constantly updates its facilities.

b   The resources and facilities of the college are excellent.

c   Both lectures and project work are equally important.

d   The college is proud of its history and achievements.

Extract 3

 Both theory and practical research are important.

 The area of sustainable energy is a particular interest.

 Engineering solutions provide the answer to climate change.

 The college aims to be the best in the world.

Answer & Transcript

Extract 1: c

Extract 2: b

Extract 3: b


Extract 1

Here at the Engineering Department we pride ourselves on our health and safety record, so first I want to run through a few basic safety measures you need to observe while you are here with us. First, always wear a laboratory coat and any additional protection, such as safety goggles or shoes where necessary. Second, there is no smoking anywhere on the premises, of course, and also, no food or drink. Third, keep all doors and windows closed …

Extract 2

We have recently updated and improved all our resources and equipment. We have also developed new teaching approaches, so now lectures and project work are more integrated then previously.

Extract 3

One main area of interest here, both theoretical and in its practical applications, is the area of sustainable energy technologies. We are world leaders in research into the best use of the world’s natural resources and in pioneering engineering solutions to climate change.

Seeing the big picture

1. Now listen to the extract. Tick the topics that are mentioned.






the Internet


the weather


carbon dioxide




animals, transport, the weather, food, carbon dioxide, recycling

2. What is the main theme?

a   global warming

b   animals and the environment


d   energy-saving measures.



3. Which statement best describes the main idea?

 Global warming isn’t as serious as people think.

 We can all do something to stop the situation getting worse.

 Earth will never be able to recover from the effects of global warming.

 All life on earth is at risk because of global warming.



4. Look at the headings below. Listen again to the extract and number each heading in the order you hear the topics (1-5)

Consequences   ……

What governments should do   ……

Statistics   ……

What we can do   ……

Fight for survival   ……


Consequences   2

What governments should do   4

Statistics   1

What we can do   3

Fight for survival   5

Note taking

Listen again to the What we can do section only. Write notes under each heading.

What we can do

1   Recycling



2   Food



3   Save energy



4   Transport



Answer & Transcript

What we can do

1   Recycling

     Recycle everything

     Buy recycled goods

2   Food

     Buy fresh food (frozen uses 10x more energy)

     Locally grown food

3   Save energy

     Save 30% if turn off lights / use long-life bulbs (60% more eff)

     Use a/c less

     Wash clothes at a lower temp.

     X use d-washer

     OFF appliances when not using

4   Transport

     X car >> public transport / walk / cycle

     Car pool / check tyres (3% more eff)


The figures are staggering. We are emitting four times as much carbon today than we were just ten years ago – despite the Kyoto agreement. In the early 19th century, levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were 280 parts per million. Today they are 380 parts per million. It may not mean much to you, but let’s look at the consequences …

First, as ice in Greenland and Antarctica melts – and it is melting far faster than anyone had predicted, by the way – as the ice melts, see levels will rise, possibly by as much as six metres. Flooding will affect millions of people living in coastal areas all around the planet. Huge populations, entire cities, will have to move to higher ground. Second, heat waves will become more common, with tens of thousands of people dying from heat, and from the wild fires that will sweep across the planet in the dry conditions. In the rising temperatures, severe droughts will mean crops fail, so millions more will starve to death. We don’t have to look far into the future to see this. Just a few years from now, a recent study estimates that as many as 300,000 people a year will die directly as a result of global warming … and that’s not counting the impact on animals, birds and fish.

So, what can we do? In all this despair, is there any hope? Well, if we take action individually, we can collectively make a huge difference. There are plenty of things we all can do to fight global warming. First, recycling. Recycle everything you can and buy recycled goods. Second, think about your food. Buy fresh food, not frozen food. It costs ten times more energy to produce frozen food. and buy locally grown produce, too. Did you know the average meal in the US has travelled 1,200 miles to get on your plate? Third, save energy. You can save up to 30 percent of the energy you use by doing simple things like turning off the light if you are not in the room, and using long-life light bulbs, which are 60 percent more efficient than normal light bulbs. Use the air-conditioning less, wash your clothes at a lower temperature if possible, don’t use a dishwasher, turn off electronic appliances when you are not using them … So, we can all save energy very easily. And fourth, transport. Don’t take a car – use public transport, or even better, walk or cycle. If you have to use a car, do so as part of a car pool and take others. Even just checking the tyres are inflated correctly will make a three-percent saving in efficiency.

Yes, there are many things you can do. And there are many things governments can do too. Did you know there are over 200 separate environmental agreements? Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Until you realize all of them are hard to enforce and poorly coordinated. Each government needs to pass effective laws to force individuals and industry to take responsibility for climate change.

The fact is, we must do something. We are in the middle of a fight for the very survival of the planet here. Some people say it is too late already and that the planet is doomed to die … We are not at that point yet, but it’s not far away. Now, let’s look at …

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