English through Climate Change

Walter Leal Filho and Evangelos Manolas (Eds.). Orestiada: Department of Forestry and Management of the Environment and Natural Resources, Democritus University of Thrace, 2012. Pp. 198. ISBN 978-960-9698-04-7.

Reviewed by Eirene C. Katsarou
Democritus University of Thrace, Greece

Climate change as one of the greatest challenges in history is most eloquently addressed in this book of thirteen authentic chapters written by experts in the field. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach on the topic, this volume manages to fulfill successfully its primary aim through an in-depth presentation of the complicated nature of climatic change and its consequences on human welfare and natural ecosystems alike while at the same time it also serves as a collection of valuable material to be used by students who wish to get acquainted with the terminology in one of the key areas of environmental studies, i.e. climate change, allowing them at the same time to improve their reading skills in English. Given the notable lack of teaching materials in the area of English for Specific Purposes (ESP), English through Climate Change could successfully be adopted by environmental science departments in Greece and other countries as it combines a series of original specialized texts followed by appropriate tasks and activities.

In the introductory chapter ‘The Challenge of Climate Change’ (1-12) climate change is defined as one of the greatest challenges humanity has faced and its multifaceted nature is presented: rising sea levels, extreme weather events, ocean acidity and biodiversity loss are described and the pressing need for action via the adoption of mitigation strategies is heavily stressed. The second chapter ‘Psychology and Climate Change’ (13-27) focuses on how psychology relates to people’s climate-related behaviour exploring the relationship between designing climate policy and peoples’ experiences of a changing climate. The third chapter ‘Climate Change and Marine Ecosystems’ (29-42) examines the interconnection between marine ecosystems and climate change through a discussion of the real and potential impacts of climatic change that call for the adoption of effective coastal adaptation strategies. In the fourth chapter ‘Knowledge and Awareness about Climate Change around the World and Its Impacts on Natural and Human Systems’ (43-56) empirical results are presented on worldwide knowledge and awareness about climate change and its causes showing the extent to which people feel threatened by it.

The fifth chapter ‘Integrated Assessment of Climate Policy Instruments’ (57-73) presents an integrated assessment framework of climate policy instrument interactions that reconciles environmental, socio-economic, political and institutional aspects for the initial stage of policy development. The sixth chapter ‘Climate Change and Wood Production Strategies’ (75-86) stresses the need for planting more trees as a major mitigation measure in the context of sustainable forest management. The seventh chapter ‘Climate Change Adaptation’ (87-101) discusses the institutional context for addressing climate risks, the types of changes affected, the notion of adaptation strategies (structural and/or non-structural) that are dependent on an assessment of the hazards that human populations are likely to face. In the eighth chapter ‘Adaptation is not enough: Why Insurers Need Climate Change Mitigation’ (103-118), effective mitigation is viewed as a necessary precondition for successful longer-term insurance system adaptation to climate change as the Earth system, global economy and insurance are viewed as inter-connected issues.

The ninth chapter (119-126) ‘The Experience of Cap-and-Trade’ offers a description of an innovative environmental regulation tool, i.e. Cap-and-Trade, designed to fight air pollution consequences. Its main characteristics are reviewed in relation to a variety of temporal, geographical and allocation provisions that need to be taken into account so that successful implementation of such programs can be secured. Chapter ten ‘An overview of the climate refugees’ issues and scenario’ (119-126) provides us with an overview of the climate refugees’ issue that demands a new international legal framework for climate induced migration and mobility. Chapter eleven ‘Addressing the Impacts of Climate Change in a Caribbean Small island Developing State’ (141-152) discusses the effects of climate change on the agricultural sector by looking into the adaptive capacity strategies employed by people in the Caribbean Island of St Lucia in the form of alternative farming methods in order to cope with the challenges of climate change. Chapter twelve ‘Adaptation and Governance in Transboundary Water Management’ (153-165) focuses on the issue of transboundary water management which requires the coordination of different political, legal and institutional settings. Finally, chapter thirteen ‘Climate Change: A Challenge for Ethics’ (167-178) addresses the threat of climate change primarily as a challenge for ethics given that the stabilization and gradual improvement of the situation requires the abandonment of the present dominant model of life and long-established customs.

Overall, this volume offers an excellent account of the complex phenomenon of climatic change by vividly highlighting its immense impact on human activity and natural wildlife in different parts of our planet. Capitalizing on this highly controversial environmental issue, the book successfully manages to sustain ESP environmental students’ motivation to deal with key topics of their main discipline, but in the medium of English. Thus, it helps them to expand their vocabulary knowledge in the area and promote their reading comprehension skills through a wide range of related tasks and activities in an effective and efficient way. However, based on the multi-dimensional notion of word knowledge in a second language (Nation 2001), it can be suggested that the key terms listed in the glossary could be more enriched with additional grammatical (e.g. the word species occurs only in plural) and semantic information necessary for the vocabulary expansion and consolidation of university students with reference to their specialized field of studies. Moreover, new entries could also include features such as (a) the range of synonyms and antonyms for a given word (e.g. susceptible and accessible can also be used interchangeably as synonyms with vulnerable) and (b) word derivatives (e.g. words such as value, habit, should be accompanied by information related to the derivation of nouns (value) and adjectives (habitual) of the same word family). In sum, the well-delineated outline of the book allows ESP students to appreciate the significance of climatic change as a global phenomenon. It helps improve and expand their English language vocabulary in the most efficient and cost-effective manner since the anthology can be easily accessed and downloaded via the internet for use in the ESP class (Solon 2013).

Nation, P. (2001). Learning Vocabulary in Another Language. CUP.
Solon. (2013). Solon Synthesis. Retrieved from http://www.Solonsynthesis.org/index.php/recommendedbooks.html

Author’s Bio Data:
Eirene Katsarou is a full-time EFL teacher for secondary education in Greece. BA in English Language & Literature (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece), MA in Applied Linguistics (University of York, UK), PhD in Descriptive & Applied Linguistics (University of Essex, UK). Her research interests include: L2 vocabulary acquisition and language learner strategies, individual differences research, research methods in applied linguistics.