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I. Reading Session

The wind of change

On the eve of the new millennium there are growing signs that the world may be on the edge of an environmental revolution at least comparable to the political revolution that swept Eastern Europe. While the social revolution in Eastern Europe led to a restructuring of the region's political systems, this next global revolution could lead to an environmentally - driven restructuring of the global economy.

For the first time since the oil age began, the world has the technology to wean itself from petroleum coming from the politically volatile Middle East", says Lester R. Brown, President of the newly established Earth Policy Institute, a Washington D.C.-based environmental research organization.

In the new economy, which Brown calls an eco-economy, renewable energy- a combination of wind turbines, solar cells, hydrogen generators and fuel cell engines- will replace climate-disrupting fossil fuels; urban transportation systems will be centred not around the car, but on high-tech transit systems.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the global economy is out of sync. with the earth's ecosystem, as evidenced by collapsing fisheries, shrinking forests, expanding deserts or eroding soils. This can also be seen in the earth's changing climate as rising temperatures lead to more destructive storms, melting glaciers, and rising sea levels. However, the needed restructuring of the global economy has already begun and is gaining momentum.

Renewable energy sources

Nowhere is the new economy more visible than in the energy sector. The shift from the fossil fuel era to the solar/hydrogen era can be seen in the contrasting growth rates of these energy sources in recent years. During the last decade, the use of wind power grew by 26 percent a year, solar cells by 20 percent, and geothermal energy by 4 percent annually. In contrast, oil expanded by only 1 percent a year and coal use declined by 1 percent annually. For example, the Danish government has banned the construction of coal-powered plants. From 1995 to 2000, world wind electric generation expanded nearly fourfold, a growth rate previously found only in the computer industry. Denmark gets 15 percent of its electricity from wind.

The use of solar cells is also expanding rapidly. In remote villages or in certain other inaccessible areas throughout the world investing in solar cell installation may be cheaper than buying candles. At the end of 2000, nearly 1 million homes worldwide were getting their electricity from solar cells. With the new solar cell roofing material developed in Japan, the stage is set for dramatic gains in this new energy source as rooftops become the power plants of buildings.

Raw materials -recycled/reused

Eco-economy also means a change in the materials. The challenge is to shift from a linear flow-through economy to a comprehensive recycling economy. Progress is being made on this front, but nearly enough, though some countries are advancing. For example, 58 percent of U.S. steel production now comes from scrap. In Germany 72 percent of all paper comes from paper recycling mills. If the entire world were to achieve this rate, wood needed for pulp production would drop nearly one third. Moreover, with a comprehensive recycling economy, the need for imported raw materials will also diminish, reducing vulnerability to external political and economic instability.

Economic decision makers at all levels - government leaders, corporate planners, investment bankers and individual consumers - are becoming increasingly aware of the need not to strive for economic development at the expense of the environment. Sometimes it is learnt the hard way. For example, in mid-August 1998, there were several weeks of record flooding in the Yangtze River basin, caused partly because 85 percent of its original forest was cut. The flooding displaced 120 million people and caused $30 billion worth of damage. In response, Premier Zhu Rongji ordered a halt to tree cutting in the upper basin, arguing that trees standing are worth three times as much as those cut.

(Ready For Business, Editura Universitara, Bucuresti, 2004, pp. 97-99)

II. Build your vocabulary

A. Match the words 1-15 expressing environmental concepts to their definitions a-o.

  1. deforestation
  2. carbon dioxide emission
  3. fossil fuels
  4. acid rain
  5. ozone layer depletion
  6. pristine environment
  7. climattic change
  8. hazardous waste
  9. shrinking habitats
  10. ecological balance
  11. extinct species
  12. biodegradable waste
  13. endangered species
  14. global warning
  15. greenhouse effect

a.        balance of natural relationships in the environment

b.        types of animals/plants in danger of no longer existing

c.        steady rise in average world temperature

d.        chemically radioactive wastes, dangerous to health/environment

e.        warming of the earth's surface caused by pollution

f.          rain made acid by gases from factories

g.        carbon dioxide gas from cars, factories etc.

h.        Waste capable of undergoing decomposition

i.          Destruction/clearing of forests

j.          Perfectly clean/unspoilt/untouched area

k.        Coal, oil etc

l.          Reduction in quantity of zone by chemicals (from refrigerators, aerosols etc.) released on earth

m.      Places where animals live and breed whic are decreasing in size

n.        Change in the weather/climate

o.        Type of animal/plant no longer existing

B. Give the Romanian equivalent of the following concepts on environmental issues:

Acid rain

Biodegradable waste

Best available techniques

Climate change

Company environmental policy



Emission factor

Global warming

Greenhouse effect

Greenhouse gas

Extinct species

Hazardous waste

Low-lwvwl radioactive wastes

Noise pollution

Noise barrier

Organic waste

Ozone layer depletion

Ozone-depleting substance

Pollution prevention

Sustainability indicator

Sustainable development indicator

Toxic waste

Transboundary air pollution

Water pollution

Waste oil

III. Focus on language: THE PASSIVE VOICE

Patagonia, a Californian company, is one of the companies that have a strong environmentally-friendly policy. The following extract describes how Patagonia uses recycled plastic bottles to make material for jackets. Notice the use of the verbs.

Soda Bottles to Synchilla Fleece

Bottles are brought to the local recycling centre. The plastic is converted into small pieces and chopped into flakes. The flakes are melted and shaped into fine fibres. The recycled fibres are shipped to the mill. They are made into clothes known as 'PCR synchilla clothing".

Voice is the grammatical category specific to the verb that expresses the rapport between the predicative verb on the one hand, and the subject and object of the predicative verb on the other hand. There are two voices in English: the active voice and the passive voice. The verb is in the active voice when the grammatical subject performs the action: Lucy (subject) has written (verb) a letter (object). The verb is in the passive voice when the grammatical subject bears the action performed by the object: This letter (subject) has been written (verb) by Lucy (object).

We form the passive with verb to be and the past participle of the main verb.




Present Simple

Present Continuous

Past Tense

Past Tense Continuous

Present Perfect

Past Perfect

Future Simple

Future Perfect

Modals +be +p.p

Intel produces millions of chips every year.

Our supplier is shipping the goods next week.

The government raised interest rates by 1%.

He was asking me some difficult questions.

They have chosen the new design.

They had chosen the new design.

Rosa will give a press briefing tomorrow.

He will have delivered the parcels.

We can arrange a loan within six days

Millions of chips are produced every year.

The goods are being shipped next week.

Interest rates were raised by 1%.

I was being asked some difficult questions.

The new design has been chosen.

The new design had been chosen.

A press briefing will be given tomorrow.

The parcels will have been delivered.

A loan can be arranged within six days.

The object in the active sentence moves to the front in the passive sentence and becomes the subject.

We form negatives and questions in the same way as in active sentences:

The new design hasn't been chosen.

Has the new design been chosen?


1) Focus on important information; when the person who carries out the action is unknown, unimportant or obvious from the context.

A very large proportion of world oil production is generated in the Middle East (the focus is on the amount of oil).

Deutsche Post AG will offer investors share price discounts and bonus shares as part of its planned initial public offering. These incentives will be offered to retail investors in EU countries who make an early subscription. (Here the writer wants to give information about the incentives. Who will do the action (offer) is not important or not known.

2) Systems and processes; we often use the passive to talk about systems, processes and procedures:

First of all the finished products are checked for quality, and then they are packed and sent out from our warehouse. After dispatch we allow customers to follow the progress of their order on our INTRANET. Finally, we get a digital image of the signature of the person who receives the goods, so that this can be checked later, if necessary.

3) When we refer to an unpleasant event and we do not want to say who is to blame.

A lot of mistakes have been made. (Instead of "You have made a lot of mistakes")

Only transitive verbs (verbs followed by an object) can be changed into the passive.

E.g.: Grandma knitted my jumper. (Transitive verb)

My jumper was knitted by Grandma.

They travelled to Lisbon last summer. (Intransitive verb)

We use by + agent to say who or what carries out the action. We use with +instrument/material/ ingredient to say what the agent used: The pancakes were made by Claire. They were made with eggs, flour and milk.

The agent is often omitted in the passive sentence when the subject of the active sentence is one of the following words: people, one, someone/somebody, they, he, etc.

Somebody has rearranged the furniture.

The furniture has been rearranged.

The agent is not omitted when it is a specific or important person or when it is essential to the meaning of the sentence.

The Mona Lisa was painted by Leonardo da Vinci.

A new law has been passed by the government.

Personal/Impersonal construction

The verbs think, believe, say, report, know, expect, consider, understand, etc. are used in the following passive patterns in personal and impersonal constructions.

Active: People believe that he lied in court.

Passive: It is believed that he lied in court.

He is believed to have lied in court.

Active:    They expect him to arrive soon.

It is expected that he will arrive soon.

He is expected to arrive soon.

IV. Practice:

  1. Complete each sentence with a passive verb. You may need a negative form.
  1. Somebody damaged the goods in transit.

The goods..... in transit.

  1. Thousands of people see this advert every day.

This advert thousands of people every day.

  1. They will not finish the project by the end of the month.

The project .......... by the end of the month.

  1. They have closed fifty retail outlets over the last year.

Fifty retail outlets .......over the last year.

  1. We are reviewing all of our IT systems.

All of our IT systems............

  1. We cannot ship you order until we receive payment.

Our order...........until we receive payment.

  1. Rewrite these sentences using the passive if it is possible. You may need a negative form. If it is not possible (because the verb is intransitive) put a cross X.
  1. Our R&D department have discovered a promising new drug.
  1. The inflation rate went down by 0.5% last month.
  1. One of our best young designers created this line.
  1. I'm sorry, we can't do that.
  1. Something very interesting happened to me last week.
  1. We're spending more than a million dollars on advertising this year.
  1. The Accounts Department may not authorise this payment.
  1. I worked as a consultant for four years after my MBA.
  1. A marketing manager is writing a training manual that explains how the company uses questionnaires to do market research. Complete the text by putting the verbs from the list below into the present simple passive.

Design send back distribute offer put outsource analyse

First, we carefully select a sample of people to ask. Then the questions ......... by a small team within the department. Next, the questions ........ into sequence and grouped together by topic. After that, we print the questionnaire and it ......... to everyone in the sample. Of course, not all the forms ......... to us, but we try to collect as many as possible.

Sometimes a small gift ....... to people who return the form, as an incentive. Finally we enter all the results onto a spreadsheet, and the information ........ by the marketing department. If we are using a very large sample the distribution and collection ........ to an external company.

  1. Put the verbs in brackets into the correct passive tense:

The Academy Awards Presentation ....... (first/organise) in 1929 and since then, it .....(hold ) every year. The presentation ...... (attend) by those at the top of the film industry and ........ (watch) on TV by millions of viewers who want to see who ......(present) with the golden statue which .......(desire) by everone in the motion picture world.

The voting for the Academy Awards ........ (conduct) secretly and the results ........(not reveal) to anyone until the envelope .......... (open) on stage in front of the audience. Awards ....... (give) for the best individual or collective work and .........(separate) into different categories. Up to five nominations ...... (make) in each category. The awards, which ....... (know) as Oscars, ........(consider) to be the highest honour anyone in the film industry can ....... (give).

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