Unit 3: Adventure and The Hero’s Journey

Article: Cassandra of Climate Change

Photo by myeviajes on Pixabay, \cczero

Before You Read

Discuss the following questions with a classmate.

  1. What is climate change?
  2. What causes climate change?
  3. What are the effects of climate change?
  4. In what ways are people feeling the effects of climate change right now?
  5. How can climate change be prevented?
  6. Thinking about vocabulary you learned at the end of the previous reading, what do you think it means to be a “Cassandra” of climate change?
  7. Skim the next reading. What do you think is the author’s purpose of the text: to inform, entertain, or to persuade? How will that affect the way you take notes on the reading?


Go to the following link for the reading: http://www.realclearlife.com/science/jim-hansen-climate-change/

Then come back to answer the questions below.

Building Vocabulary

Find the word in the paragraph given. Use the synonyms and definition to help. You may want to use Hypothes.is to see the paragraph numbers. 

    1. P1: having predictions, foresight (adj): _____________________________________
    2. P1: strongly (adv): ________________________________________________________
    3. P2: focus, goal (n): ________________________________________________________
    4. P2: very excellent (adj): ___________________________________________________
    5. P2: deliberately avoided (v): _______________________________________________
    6. P3: predict by calculation (v): ______________________________________________
    7. P3: withdrawal, moving backwards (n): _________________________________________
    8. P4: freely (adj): ___________________________________________________________
    9. P4: speed up (v): _________________________________________________________
    10. P6: accept (v): ____________________________________________________________
    11. P6: dreadful, terrible (adj): ________________________________________________
    12. P6: provoke, start a fire (v): _______________________________________________
    13. P7: possible situation (n): _________________________________________________
    14. P7: dislike (n): ____________________________________________________________
    15. P8: silence (n): ___________________________________________________________
    16. P9: about to happen (adj): ________________________________________________

Vocabulary in Context

There are some interesting phrases in this article. Find or guess the meaning of the words in bold.

  1. Dr. Jim Hansen predicts shocking sea-level rise and superstorms over the next century that would render most of the world’s coastal cities uninhabitable and lead to massive, global dislocations.
  2. Hansen has made a new prediction. Is there a new-found respect for his discoveries? Could this Cassandra previously shunned, now be “coming in from the cold?”
  3. Humanity faces near certainty of eventual sea-level rise of at least 5-9 meters if fossil fuel emissions continue on a business-as-usual course.
  4. Because global warming is continuing and is unlikely to stop before reaching 3.6 to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit, global mean sea level is a train we can’t stop.
  5. In the 1980s when he published his first predictions of climate change, Hansen drew sharp criticism from some colleagues.
  6. But nature is showing looming signs predicted by his modeling – currents have slowed in the North Atlantic, Antarctic sea ice melting has grown to record levels, tropical storms are stoked to record intensities by hot seas, doubling times for sea level rise are shrinking, and loss of the ice sheets is accelerating.
  7. NOAA’s studies have not been the only recent example of multi-meter sea level rise predicted for this century. Will the decision makers follow suit?

Comprehension Questions

Answer the following questions according to the article.

  1. Who are some of the people who don’t believe Hansen’s predictions?
  2. What has Hansen’s research found?
  3. What could be consequences if Hansen’s findings are true?
  4. Hansen says in paragraph 5 that if sea levels continue to rise, “the world could become practically ungovernable.” What does that mean and how do you think it could happen?
  5. What does the author mean in paragraph 6 that “history may be repeating itself”?
  6. What does the author mean in paragraph 8 that “waiting for consensus in science, or in anything, can get people killed”?

Critical Thinking Questions

Answer the following questions. Compare your answers with a partner.

  1. Why do you think the fossil fuel industry refuses to believe the scientific predictions of researchers and scientists like Hansen?
  2. Do you think governments have a responsibility to reduce the effects of global warming? If so, what should they do?
  3. What can individuals do to reduce the effects of global warming?

CEFR Level: CEF Level C1


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It’s All Greek to Me! by Charity Davenport is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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