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BBC 6 minute English-Air pollution in China

BBC 6 minute English-Air pollution in China

BBC 6 minute English-Air pollution in China


Transcript of the podcast

NB: This is not a word-for-word transcript

Rob: Hello I’m Rob. Welcome to 6 Minute English. I’m joined today by Finn. Hello Finn

Finn: Hello Rob

Rob: In this programme we’re talking about a serious problem that has been affecting some of the big cities in China: that’s air pollution

Finn: Yes, or better known as smog. Smog is polluted air that is a mixture of smoke and fog. I’ve experienced this in Shanghai and it’s not a nice thing to breathe in

Rob: It certainly isn’t good for your health. We’ll talk more about this soon and explain some pollution-related vocabulary. But let’s start with a question for you, Finn. According to research by the World Health Organisation, which country has the city with the world’s worst air pollution? Is it

a) China

b) India

c) Iran

Finn: Well, I think it definitely used to be China. I’m going to say it’s still China

Rob: We’ll find out if you are right later on. Let’s talk more now about the pollution problem which is choking – or making it difficult to breathe in – many Chinese cities

Finn: Pollution is a word that can describe anything that damages something that is pure. So light pollution is when a pure dark sky is contaminated – or spoiled by street lights and lights in the city

Rob: And noise pollution is when loud or annoying sounds like traffic noise spoil a quiet and peaceful environment. But the smog affecting Chinese cities is a form of air pollution – clean air has become dirty

Finn: Yes. Well, smog used to be a problem in other world cities like London, where a combination of fog and smoke from factories and trains sometimes made the air quite dirty and dangerous

Rob: Yes, sometimes the air was so dirty and so thick they described it as a ‘peasouper’ – meaning as thick as pea soup

Finn: A ‘pea-souper’ – that’s good isn’t it! In Los Angeles, fumes – that’s the bad gases from car engines – and poor weather conditions used to cause poor air quality. But now, new laws and a change in technology mean the air in these cities is cleaner and safer. So, Rob, why is it bad in China now

Rob: Well Finn, China is becoming more industrialised. That means more factories are being built, and more electricity is needed, and that often comes from coal-fired power stations. And of course, more people are driving cars

Finn: Yes they are. Well, at certain times last year, the air was so poisonous in Shanghai that children were not allowed outside and schools were closed

Rob: Generally, the air is a threat to public health. It’s particularly bad for people with asthma – and it could lead to lung cancer. In the capital Beijing, pollution regularly goes over the safety limits set by the World Health Organization (WHO). So what can be done

Finn: Well, the BBC’s David Shukman has been investigating the problem and found that the Chinese authorities are spending £۱۸۰ billion on cleaning up the air. See if you can hear what the two main things are that they’re trying to do in Beijing

David Shukman, BBC Science Editor

Well first, they’re closing down any power stations within the city that burn coal, that’s the biggest source of pollution; next they’re trying to limit road traffic – greener cars will get priority. And officials say they’re confident they can clean up

Rob: So the plan is to close down coal-fired power stations because they are the source – or the place where most of the pollution comes from

Finn: Yes, and the other plan is to limit – to set a maximum amount of – traffic on the roads. Greener cars will be allowed on the roads first – they will have priority

Rob: Of course ‘greener’ isn’t referring to the colour of the car, Finn – it’s a term to describe something that causes less pollution and is better for the environment

Finn: So these are the cars that use less fuel or might use cleaner fuel that has less particles in it that usually make the air dirty. Officials believe that this green technology will clean up the air

Rob: China is also going to use more renewable energy – this is power made by natural materials that never get used up, such as wind and water. This would reduce air pollution caused by burning coal

Finn: Yes, well of course, all these changes will take a long time. But Rob, it’s time now for you to tell me the answer to today’s question

Rob: Yes, earlier I asked you, according to research by the World Health Organisation, which country has the city with the world’s worst air pollution

Finn: I thought it was a) China

Rob: You did but the answer is Iran

Finn: Is it now?! Which city

Rob: Apparently the city of Ahwaz. Now, before we go, Finn, could you remind us of some of the vocabulary that we’ve heard today

Finn: OK. We had

air pollution smog choking contaminated pea-souper fumes industrialised poisonous asthma greener renewable energy

Rob: Well, that brings us to the end of today’s 6 Minute English. We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s programme. Please join us again soon

Finn: Please do

Rob: Bye bye

Finn: Bye

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