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News Word: Climate change 2017.03.21
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Climate change refers to global temperature, rainfall, winds and other climate patterns that have changed, and it is believed to be the result of global warming. It has affected Earth in many ways.


Since early March, the flowers of cotton trees (木棉花) have blossomed luxuriantly. However, the former director of Hong Kong Observatory (香港天文台), Lam Chiu-ying (林超英), warns that it, in fact, reflects how climate change has affected our ecology. In the past, spring and the flowers came in late-March but we now experience warmer weather earlier. This confuses the growth of cotton trees.

 

Why is there an earlier spring?
Global warming leads to climate variations in different regions. Warmer places become even warmer and cooler
places are cooler or warmer. The same patterns also apply to wetter and drier places. As Hong Kong is in a sub-tropical region (亞熱帶地區), it has gotten hotter in recent decades. Global warming is caused by high emissions of greenhouse gases, which trap heat within the Earth’s surface. Factories burn fossil fuels to power machines and it releases air pollutants and carbon gases. Other human activities are also culprits. For example, deforestation
releases carbon dioxide from fallen trees and cattle ranching produces methane.

 

What are the consequences?
The climate changes not only disrupt our daily life, but also bring about farreaching and devastating impacts on our environment, both on a global and regional scale. In Hong Kong and other coastal cities, there are more frequent typhoons and downpours. Many marine species and their habitats are affected due to the rising sea temperature and sea level. Even the early blossom of cotton trees can harm our ecology, because all living things are closely linked to form a food chain. Some birds rely on its nectar and pollen to breed and nest at a particular time in a year.

 

How can we help?
We can adopt some sustainable measures to slow down the pace of global warming. A case in point, Earth Hour (地球一小時) is an annual worldwide campaign organised by World Wide Fund for Nature (世界自然保育基金) to encourage energysaving. This one-hour campaign shows that we can help conserve the environment without causing much inconvenience to economy and society. Earth Hour 2017 will be held this Saturday.

 

Related words and phrases
Greenhouse gases 溫室氣體
Ecology 生態
Habitat 繁殖地
Food chain 食物鍊
Urbanisation 都市化
Industrialisation 工業化
Sustainable development 可持續發展
Deforestation 森林開伐
Cattle ranching 畜牧業

 

Questions
1. What are the other consequences of global warming? Do you know any specific examples or case studies related to it?
2. In your daily life, how can you help save energy and curb global warming?
3. Why is sustainable development important?
4. Will you join Earth Hour this year? Why or why not?

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