Rising sea levels, endangered species and renewable energy: talking about climate change

Olaf Kruger / Getty Images

by Liz Walter

I’ve written a couple of posts on collocations (word partners) recently, and a reader suggested some specific collocation topics, one of which was the environment. Climate change is in the news a lot, particularly because of the campaigning of the Swedish schoolgirl, Greta Thunberg. So here are some collocations to help you talk about this vitally important topic.

Scientists and campaigners describe the environmental impact of humans (the way we affect the environment) and warn that we are heading towards climate breakdown (changes in the weather that will cause great harm), and even mass extinction (the death of many animals, plants and maybe humans).

We have already seen an increase in extreme weather such as floods, very strong winds or droughts (when there is no rain). Meanwhile, ice is melting, leading to rising sea levels that threaten low-lying areas. A recent report said there are now around a million (yes, a million!) endangered species (plants and animals that may die and no longer exist) in the world.

Scientists say we have around a decade to keep carbon dioxide (or CO2) from reaching catastrophic levels (being enough to cause terrible damage) and there have been many suggestions for ways to protect the environment. Many people say we should stop burning fossil fuels (using fuel like coal and gas) and use renewable energy or sustainable energy (energy that comes from sources such as the sun, wind or waves) instead.

There are many human activities that contribute to global warming (help to cause an increase in the world’s temperatures), but there are ways for individuals to reduce their carbon footprint (stop doing things that cause carbon dioxide to enter the atmosphere). People who want to minimize their impact (cause less damage) could take practical measures such as installing solar panels (putting panels that create electricity from the sun) on their homes, offsetting their flights (paying extra money which will go towards schemes that reduce carbon dioxide) whenever they fly, or switching to a plant-based diet (eating plants instead of animal products).

However, the kind of big solutions we need probably depend on governments more than individuals, and increasingly people are taking to the streets (coming together as a group to oppose something publicly) or staging protests or rallies (organizing protests and public meetings) to try to persuade governments to take action (do something). For example, they want governments to control companies that emit greenhouse gases (produce gases that harm the atmosphere) and force them to reduce emissions (produce fewer harmful substances).

Can you think of any more collocations connected to the environment and saving the planet?

15 thoughts on “Rising sea levels, endangered species and renewable energy: talking about climate change

  1. Thank you very much for the article.
    “Meanwhile, ice is melting, leading to rising sea levels…”
    I read sentences like “Many islands are below sea level.” So here is my question: ‘Leading to rising sea LEVEL/LEVELS,’ what is the difference between level and levels?

    1. Liz Walter

      That’s a very good question! I think it’s because we conceive of ‘sea level’ in ‘above/below sea level’ as a singular concept, whereas when we talk about rising or falling levels, we conceive of it as different levels at different times.

  2. Godwin

    I love your post so much. It will surely make my English natural. I only wish I knew your personal contact number or email or even WhatsApp

    1. Liz Walter

      Yes, just click on the link next to my picture on the right hand side of this page for lots of previous posts. Try my colleague Kate Woodford’s posts too!

  3. Mateusz

    Dear Liz Walter,

    When planning study time with my students last spring I had been thinking what to choose as a leading theme of the spring semester.
    After a litte brainstrom I chose the question ‘How can we care for our home planet?’ as most pertinent to all of us – as a result A2/ B1 and B2 students were all engaged and came up with a very similar list as most useful.

    Thanks for another great post-)

    Kind regards,
    Mateusz

  4. Anna

    It’s influenced me to try to read any article and make the definition right after the phrase/word that I don’t know it’s meaning. An amazing method for learning new vocabularies.
    Thank you so much!

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