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The World's Highest Junkyard

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The first recorded climb of Mt. Everest, the world's tallest peak at 29,029 feet (8,848 meters), was only in 1953. At that time, the mountain was an untouched area of unique flora and fauna. No longer. In fact, it has been described as a trash heap.

Despite inordinate obstacles that pose the danger of death, hundreds of sport enthusiasts make an attempt on the mountain each year. With them come Sherpas, which further add to the number of climbers. And with all the traffic, there are oxygen canisters, sleeping bag parts, broken tents, and food wrappers, just to name a few of the more common items tossed aside. And of course, there is also a lot of human excrement too, which pollutes drinking water elsewhere.

Recent years have seen a concerted clean-up effort. For example, environmentalists have conducted fund-raising campaigns to remove the trash. The Indian Army has also climbed the mountain with the purpose of removing trash; it's most recent expedition estimated the removal of more than 8,000 pounds (4,000 kilograms). Teams of Sherpas have hiked into the dead zone, an area above 26,247 feet (8,000 meters) where oxygen is very thin, and hauled off 4,000 pounds of garbage. And perhaps the idea with the greatest impact is a new law which has been enacted that requires each hiker to bring down eighteen pounds of garbage. Failure to do so results in a permanent ban from all future attempts to scale the mountain.

However, despite recent efforts, the amount of garbage continues to increase, with the result in Mt. Everest being called "the world's highest junkyard." Perhaps the days of a pristine wonder of the world are long gone.

Preview some of the lesson material:

Warm Up: Do you agree or disagree? Why?

  1. Pollution is a serious problem for current and future generations.
  2. In general, people don't do enough to recycle and protect the environment.
  3. I should probably do more to recycle and protect the environment.
  4. There is a lot of pollution in my country.
  5. I'm very worried about the environment.

Fragments: Remember how the fragments were used, and complete the sentence from today's article.

  1. At that time, the mountain was an untouched...
  2. Despite inordinate obstacles that pose the danger of death, hundreds of...
  3. For example, environmentalists have conducted...
  4. And perhaps the idea with the greatest impact is a new law which...
  5. Perhaps the days of a pristine...

post-Comprehension: Talk about the following questions in pairs/groups. Remember to support your answers!

  1. Do you think this is a serious problem? Why / not?
  2. Have you ever heard of ecotourism? Please check your dictionary and discuss the meaning.
  3. Traveling to exotic destinations is becoming more common. What negatives are there? Why?
  4. Would you volunteer to clean up Mt. Everest? How about a place more local? Why / not?
  5. How do you feel about the environment and global warming? Please explain.

Google Search: Type "Mt. Everest" into Google. Look at the websites, and/or read additional articles on this topic. Discuss or write an essay about your findings.

Download the lesson:



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