British Council-The greenhouse effect

British Council-The greenhouse effect

British Council-The greenhouse effect


Transcript of the podcast

Interviewer: Doctor Grant, could you explain in a few words what The Greenhouse Effect actually means

Doctor Grant: Well, in simple terms … the sun heats the Earth’s surface and the Earth radiates energy back out into Space. Some of the radiation gets trapped in the atmosphere by greenhouse gases. This trapped radiation warms the atmosphere and some of it goes back down to the Earth, making it hotter than normal. This is the greenhouse effect

Interviewer: So, is carbon dioxide the problem

Doctor Grant: Yes … and other gases too. Methane … being released from paddy fields…. commercial oil and gas from landfills … vegetation left to rot without oxygen … These days there are more greenhouse gases than ever because of human activities and especially the burning of fossil fuels

Interviewer: What kind of problems do scientists foresee

Doctor Grant: Well, ice caps melting and sea levels rising mean that eventually cities like London, New York, Sydney and Tokyo will be submerged. This is difficult to imagine of course

Interviewer: It seems incredible … no wonder scientists are worried

Doctor Grant: Well, some scientists are optimistic. They believe that positive feedbacks from ice clouds and their water vapour could have an impact on global warming. Other scientists are more sceptical. They suspect that we have been wrong in our initial analyses of the situation and might need to go back to the drawing board

Interviewer: So are you saying that some scientists don’t believe in the Greenhouse Effect

Doctor Grant: No, I wouldn’t go that far. In fact, without the Greenhouse Effect the planet would be frozen and no life forms would exist

Interviewer: Is there anything that could protect us from global warming

Doctor Grant: I’m glad you asked me that. Yes! Volcanoes! When a volcano erupts it throws debris up into the stratosphere. This protects the Earth from solar energy by scattering the sunlight. Of course the best thing that we can do is to address the problem seriously on a world level. That’s where the Kyoto Treaty enters the picture. If all of the governments in the world would commit themselves to making a real effort to work together on this issue, we might be able to slow down the process and work out a solution

Interviewer: So …how worried do we need to be

Doctor Grant: That depends. First of all global warming isn’t going to affect all areas of the planet to the same degree. Things like the collapse of glaciers take hundreds of years so we are talking about a slow process here

Interviewer: Slow enough for us to do something to prevent a catastrophe

Doctor Grant: Well … let’s hope so


Definition Word
A form of energy produced during a nuclear reaction Radiation
A gas without colour or smell, produced when you breathe out Carbon dioxide
A large hole in the ground where waste is buried Landfill
Fuels produced from decayed animal or plant material Fossil fuels
The broken pieces left when something large has been destroyed Debris
The slow increase of the Earth’s temperature Global warming
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