The Modern Extinction Crisis


Today we are facing the largest mass extinction since the dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago.

It is in fact normal for plant and animal species to go extinct. Under normal conditions this occurs at a rate of about 5 species per year. However, scientists are estimating that currently we are losing species at a rate of 1000-10,000 times faster. Literally dozens of species are going extinct every single day. It is predicted that 30-50% of all species could be gone forever by 2050.


The most alarming thing is that the more species that go extinct, the more other species that rely on those ones for food will follow suit. At the moment about one quarter of all species are endangered, and this number is only going to get higher.   



So what is the cause of this disastrous situation? Well, to put it bluntly, it’s us. Clear-cutting the rainforest to make room for cattle farms, pumping garbage and polluted water into the sea, filling the atmosphere with CO2 from our cars and factories; these activities are all being done at the expense of our natural environment.


While a small number of people, including many politicians, continue to deny global warming and all the changes it is causing, the evidence clearly indicates that we are getting dangerously close to, or have already reached, the point of no return.

Vocabulary 好字精選

1. crisis (n) a time of intense danger or difficulty  危機
Mr. Carter seems to be going through a mid-life crisis.   

2. literally (adv) to indicate/emphasize you mean something exactly/truly  照字面上來說
There were literally more than 100,000 people in the stadium.    

3. endangered (adj) in danger of going extinct  絕種,絕跡
The giant panda is an endangered species.

4. clear-cut (v) to cut down all the trees in an entire area 清除,清空,剷除
Clear-cutting the Amazon rainforest is going to negatively impact all of humankind.

5. cattle (n) cows  牛隻
The forest was cut down to make more room for a cattle farm.

Phrases and Sentence Patterns 句型解析

1. The (most) adj thing is that… (sentence pattern) 也就是
The funny thing is that Mark forgot to button up his shirt before he gave the speech.

2. follow suit (phr) to do something in the same way or pattern  步入後塵;起而效尤
If a manager works hard, his employees will surely follow suit.      

3. to put it bluntly/simply (phr) to indicate what follows is being said in a direct/simple way 簡而言之
To put it simply, I can’t live in this house any longer.

4. to do A at the expense of B (sentence pattern) to indicate that doing A will negatively affect B      A的代價就是B,犧牲B來進行A
Why do people continue to waste resources at the expense of our planet?

5. point of no return (phr)  不能回頭,無法補救
After signing the contract, we were beyond the point of no return. We would have to finish the job. 簽下合約之後,我們就無法回頭。我們必須完成工作。

Exercise 課後練習題

1. The country is going through a water _______________. Different tribes are fighting over the small amount of clean water available.
2. Frank was so tired that he ____________ couldn’t keep his eyes open.
3. _______________ animals can still be saved from extinction.
4. The government-owned logging company is planning to ______________ this entire forest.
5. ______________ create massive amounts of methane, a poisonous greenhouse gas.
6. The strange ______________ she didn’t even say goodbye to me before she got on the bus.
7. Usually when one sheep does a certain action, the others _______________.
8. _____________, Flora and Thomas aren’t a good match for each other.
9. Don’t do anything _______________ your safety just because it seems fun.
10. The soldiers were at the _______________ so they had to keep fighting to the end.

6.things is that
7.follow suit
8.To put it bluntly/simply the expense of
10.point of no return

Comprehension Questions 閱讀理解

1. According to the figures mentioned in the article, about how many species are going extinct per year right now?     
a. 5
b. 1000-10,000
c. 5000-50,000
d. 30-50% of them    

2. Which of the following opinions does the author probably hold?   
a. Global warming and all the changes associated with it have not been proven. 
b. We are almost at the point of no return when it comes to the extinction crisis.
c. We are already past the point of no return when it comes to the extinction crisis.
d. Either B or C.

1. 根據文章所提的數據,目前有多少種的生物種面臨絕跡?
a. 5
b. 1000-10,000
c. 5000-50,000
d. 30-50%的物種   

2. 以下選項何者可能是作者所持的看法?
a. 全球暖化以及所有其他的相關變遷皆無關。
b. 關於生物絕種的危機,我們幾乎已經到了無法回頭的地步了。
c. 關於生物絕種的危機,我們已經無法回頭了。
d. B或C任一皆可。


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