Environment – IELTS Reading Exercise


Hi everyone

To assist with today’s reading passage, as well as with the other exercises later in the week, we have prepared some vocabulary exercises based on 25 words related to the environment. Click on the following link, and complete the multiple choice questions to check your knowledge. There is no need to submit the answers for review – this is a self-check exercise.


Once you have completed the vocabulary review, you are ready to begin the Reading exercise.

This week we are practising the TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN format.

Before you read, look through the questions carefully, underlining any key words. This will help you to identify the relevant sections of the reading passage. As was the case in last week’s multiple choice exercises, the questions are sequential so the order of the questions matches the order that you will find them in the passage.

If you are unsure about the answer to any question, leave it and move on to the next question. You have completed all the questions that you can you can come back and review any unanswered ones.

I will publish the correct answers at the end of the week.

You should typically spend about 20 minutes reading the passage.

OK, so let’s turn to the reading passage, which is an extract from a white paper published by the World YMCA Foundation on research into climate change.


Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage?


TRUE if the statement agrees with the information

FALSE if the statement contradicts the information

NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this

  1. The laws of physics and chemistry that govern the build-up of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere were already known in the 1700’s.
  2. The key message of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change was that sea levels will rise by 0.5 to 1 metre.
  3. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is based at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
  4. One of the main conclusions of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report was that it is virtually certain that human influence was the dominant cause of global warming between 1951-2010.
  5. The World Bank’s report of 2012 came to the same conclusion as the Fifth Assessment Report.
  6. Many marine species cannot survive in alkaline waters
  7. The World Bank report estimated that in less than one lifetime, an 8-degree in global average temperature will mean that floods, droughts and severe weather events will double in frequency.
  8. The journal Nature identified chemical pollution as one of nine planetary boundaries.









The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change was a 700 page report commissioned by the British Government on the future costs of Climate Change and published in 2007. Discussing the basis of climate change, the report notes:

“…that the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will lead to several degrees of warming, rests on the laws of physics and chemistry…”

These laws were known in the 18th century already. There is a long running scientific consensus that greenhouse gases, for example carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), help trap the sun’s heat and make the earth on average 30° C warmer. Put simply, more greenhouse gas emissions from burning oil, gas and coal, means more heat will be trapped in the atmosphere and temperatures will rise.

The key message of the report is that not only is climate change happening, but we need to address it urgently. The report concludes:

“Our actions over the coming few decades could create risks of major disruption to economic and social activity, later in this century and in the next, on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars…The earlier effective action is taken, the less costly it will be.”

Among a great range of different academic sources, the Stern Review relies on the Assessment Reports of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), set up by the United Nations. The job of the IPCC is to look at all available academic research on Climate Change,compile the available data and publish authoritative reports assessing what the current research is indicating. Since 1990 the IPCC has published five such reports, and the certainty that human activity is causing a rise in temperature has constantly increased. The first part of the Fifth Assessment Report was published in 2013. Its main conclusions are:

  • Warming of the climate system is clear. Many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia.
  • Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further global warming.
  • The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is higher than any time in at least the last 800,000 years.
  • It is 95-100% certain that human influence was the dominant cause of global warming between 1951-2010.
  • Limiting climate change will require large and continued reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

In October of 2012, the World Bank also published a highly significant report on climate change: Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4 Degree Warmer World Must Be Avoided. This comprehensive study likewise concluded that greater ambition to tackle climate change is urgently needed. If countries continue to emit as they do currently, by the year 2100 the global average temperature will have risen by 4-10°C. The report estimated that in less than one lifetime, a 4° increase would lead to:

  • Today’s extreme heatwaves becoming the new normal summer, and the coolest month’s in 2100 being warmer than today’s warmest months.
  • More carbon dioxide (CO2) would dissolve into the oceans, making them acidic. Many marine species cannot survive in acid waters – especially coral reefs – all of whom will have disappeared along with most of the fish that inhabit them.
  • The sea level will have risen by 0.5-1 meter. Island nations such as the Maldives will disappear and coastal cities and areas will be under water. Agricultural land will be inundated by salt water and become useless.
  • Floods, droughts and severe weather events will likely double in frequency.
  • Human displacements on massive scales as territories become uninhabitable due to droughts, floods and sea water rise.

That a mere 4°C degree increase in average global temperature can have such devastating and far-reaching effects, shows the interconnectedness and fragility of the Earth’s eco- and life support systems.

Yet it is not only climate change which is important to consider. In a widely acclaimed article published in the pre-eminent academic journal for the natural sciences, Nature, a large team of scientists identified nine planetary boundaries we cannot overstep. If we do, the Earth’s life support systems will cease functioning. Among the areas identified were ocean acidification, freshwater use, chemical pollution, the biochemical cycle of nitrogen and phosphorous, biodiversity (fauna and flora) loss, and climate change. With regards to the last three, we have already overstepped our planetary boundaries! Our human impact in these areas is therefore in dire need of swift reduction.


Good Luck!



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