Chinese Smog

(P1) Levels of GREENHOUSE GASES trapped in Earth’s ATMOSPHERE reached an ALL-TIME high in 2014, according to a new report by the World METEOROLOGICAL Association (WMA).

(P2) Greenhouse gases, like CARBON DIOXIDE (CO2), come from everyday activities such as turning on a light and driving around town. They are released in larger amounts by factories and farms. These gases trap heat in the atmosphere, which makes the Earth warmer.

(P3) “We can’t see CO2,” WMO Secretary-General, Michel Jarraud, said in a statement. “It is an invisible threat, but a very real one.”

(P4) The WMO reported that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere reached 397.7 parts per million (ppm) in 2014. In the NORTHERN HEMISPHERE it rose to above 400 ppm—a SYMBOLIC MILESTONE. Scientists say that CO2 levels should stay below 400 ppm to avoid LONG-TERM climate issues, like HEAT WAVES and floods.

(P5) “Carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for hundreds of years and in the ocean for even longer,” said Jarraud. “Past, present and future EMISSIONS will have a [growing] impact” on the world’s environment.

(P6) WMO’s report comes at an important moment for CLIMATE SCIENTISTS and world leaders. A recent New York Times report revealed that China, the world’s leading source of emissions, had burned 17% more coal in recent years than it had previously admitted to. Chinese President Xi Jinping, however, promised that by 2030, his country would cut CO2 emissions by more than half. China has also spent $83.3 billion on RENEWABLE ENERGY sources, such as WIND POWER and SOLAR POWER.

(P7) China’s plans are part of a global effort to address climate change. More than 100 world leaders will meet in Paris, France, from November 30 to December 11, as part of the United Nations World Climate SUMMIT.

(P8) Organizers also expect more than 40,000 people to attend the conference, including people who work to protect human and environmental rights. Climate scientists say that it is IMPERATIVE to take action immediately. “Every year we report a new record in greenhouse gas levels. Every year we say that time is RUNNING OUT.” said Jarraud.

(P9) “We have to act now to SLASH greenhouse gas emissions if we are to have a chance to keep the increase in temperatures to MANAGEABLE levels.”

WORDS: 375



If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. What is the quality of the air in your area? Is it good to breathe, or sometimes not so good?
  3. What steps is your country taking to reduce emissions? Are there any laws or regulations that people have to follow?
  4. What do you think the effects of climate change will be 50 years from now?
  5. Have you taken any steps personally to reduce your energy consumption?


What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Greenhouse gases
  • All-time
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Long-term
  • Northern Hemisphere
  • Heat wave
  • Climate science
  • Renewable energy
  • Wind power
  • Solar power
  • Run out

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