Lesson AWF-5

Welcome! Please consider how your attitude affects your and other students' experiences of the lesson. 

Be respectful, come prepared, and show interest to have the best possible educational experience. 

Lesson goals

Read and understand texts about social media and climate change, study new vocabulary and participle grammar as well as practice discussing their impact on the future using your new writing and grammar skills.

Lesson activities

Vocabulary exercise

Reading comprehension

Writing practice

Vocabulary exercise

Time for the  activitity: ~20-30 minutes

Part 1 - participle clauses

Create 4 sentences which all should include participle clauses:

Part 2 - vocabulary from the articles

Answer key

A large number of people were plagued by the speading disease. 

The likelihgood of rain tomorrow is high 

The hurricane struck with ferocity, causing widespread damage. 

The volume was asked to be amplified during the performance by the musician. 

Reading comprehension

Time for the  activitity: ~10-15 minutes

Why scientists are using the word scary over the climate crisis

Why scientists are using the word scary over the climate crisis

The former BBC environment analyst Roger Harrabin has spent his career talking to scientists. Now they’re telling him they’re scared of what they’re seeing.

Back in the 1980s, when climate research began to really take off, scientists were desperate to retain their credibility as they unravelled the potentially dire consequences of the “new” phenomenon of global warming. Most journalists tiptoed round this topic because no one wanted to lose their reputation by scaremongering. But as the science steadily became overwhelming researchers pushed their conclusions in the face of policymakers.

More and more scientists are now admitting publicly that they are scared by the recent climate extremes, such as the floods in Pakistan and west Africa, the droughts and heatwaves in Europe and east Africa, and the rampant ice melt at the poles.

That is not because an increase in extremes was not predicted. It was always high on the list of concerns alongside longer-term issues such as sea level rise. It is the suddenness and ferocity of recent events that is alarming researchers, combined with the ill-defined threat of tipping points, by which aspects of heating would become unstoppable.

The heat phenomenon in the Canadian town of Lytton, for instance, produced a “dome” of trapped heat that cranked up the temperature to 49.6C. Wildfires raged and the town was razed. I broke the news to one of the Royal Society’s leading members, Prof Sir Brian Hoskins, but at first he did not believe me. Then he said: “Oh, my god, that’s really scary.”

The high temperature itself was shocking enough but amazingly it topped the previous record by five degrees, when records are normally beaten by just a few tenths of a degree. Hoskins told me later: “Climate models have generally projected very smooth changes, whereas the real world is suffering rapid regional changes. The rise in globally averaged temperature is a useful metric of how far climate change has got, but it doesn’t bring home the message of the likely local and regional impact.

Prof Hannah Cloke, from Reading University, said: “This sort of thing is really scary. It’s just one statistic amongst an avalanche of extreme weather events that used to be known as ‘natural disasters’.”

But it is the threat of unstoppable long-term change that most worries Prof Dame Jane Francis, director of the British Antarctic Survey. She has witnessed temperatures in the Antarctic of 40C above the seasonal norm, and 30C above in the Arctic.

She said: “It’s really scary. It seems some of [these trends] are already under way.” She said she feared for the permafrost, the Greenland ice sheet, the Arctic sea ice, and Antarctica’s Thwaites glacier and western ice sheet.

Prof Piers Forster, from the University of Leeds, said: “I have tried to change the way I communicate to make it more personal and emotional. Extreme impacts are bad now and going to get a whole lot worse. But then you need to give people hope, and ourselves, as scientists hope. We can slow the rate of warming immediately if we act now.”

Roger Harrabin, The Guardian, Mon 7 Nov 2022

Used with permission. Abridged.


We need to rethink social media before it's too late

We need to rethink social media before it's too late. We've accepted a Faustian bargain

A business model that alters the way we think, act, and live our lives has us heading toward dystopia

When people envision technology overtaking society, many think of The Terminator and bulletproof robots. Or Big Brother in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, a symbol of external, omnipotent oppression.

But in all likelihood, dystopian technology will not strong-arm us. Instead, we’ll unwittingly submit ourselves to a devil’s bargain: freely trade our subconscious preferences for memes, our social cohesion for instant connection, and the truth for what we want to hear.

Indeed, as former insiders at Google, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube attest in our new documentary, The Social Dilemma, this is already happening. We already live in a version of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. As Neil Postman puts it in his 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business:

The technology that threatens our society, democracy, and mental health is lurking in our bedrooms, sometimes lying on our pillows, as we fall asleep. We awake to its call, bring its chiming notifications to dinner, and blindly trust where it guides us. We scroll insatiably, unsuspecting that the technology that connects us, especially now in a distanced world, is also controlling us.

A third of American adults, and nearly half of those aged 18-29, say they are online “almost constantly”. But, unlike the citizens of Brave New World, we’re miserable. As our time online has gone up, so have anxiety, depression and suicide rates, particularly among youth.

In The Social Dilemma, Tristan Harris, a former Google design ethicist and the co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology, points out that far before technology overpowers human strengths, it will overwhelm human weaknesses. Sophisticated algorithms learn our emotional vulnerabilities and exploit them for profit in insidious ways. 

After nearly three years of working on this film, I now see “the social dilemma” as a foundational problem of our time, underlying many of the other societal conflicts that require compromise and a shared understanding to fix. If two sides are constantly fed reflections of their pre-existing ideologies and outrageous straw men of opposing views, we will never be able to build bridges and heal the challenges that plague humanity.

But there is hope. In The Terminator sequels, Arnold Schwarzenegger comes back as a good guy. “Who sent you?” John Connor asks. The Terminator answers, “You did. Thirty-five years from now, you reprogrammed me to be your protector.”

In the absence of time travel, the solution needs to incorporate the work and voices of devoted activists, organizations, scholars, and those who have experienced the harms of exploitative technology, which amplifies systemic oppression and inequality. We can’t rely on the people who created the problem to be the ones to solve it. And I won’t trust these social media companies until they change their business model to serve us, the public. Humans created this technology, and we can – and have a responsibility to – change it.

Jeff Orlowski, The Guardian, Sun 27 Sep 2020

Used with permission. Abridged.


Article discussion


Study the vocabulary from AWF-4 & 5.

Decide which of the two articles (social media or climate change) that you want to write an exercise about next lesson.

Exit ticket

How optimistic are you about social media or climate change?