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  • Climate change is 'code red for humanity', says the United Nations. Hi, I'm Tom. Joining me this morning is Catherine. Hi, Catherine.

  • Hello, Tom. Hello everybody, and if you'd like to do a quiz on today's vocabulary, just go to our website Now, let's hear more on this story from this BBC News report:

  • United Nations researchers are set to make their strongest statement yet on the impact of climate change. In a key report setting out how the world's oceans, ice caps, and land could change in the next decades. Researchers confirmed that if global temperature increase is limited to 1.5 Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the worst catastrophes can still be avoided.

  • So, the UN is set to release a new report on the effects of climate change. It's going to contain details about the impact of climate change on the natural world. It's expected to be the strongest warning yet, and it warns about what might happen if global temperature rises are not kept to 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels. So, serious news there from the UN.

  • Serious indeed. Thank you, Catherine. Now, you have three words and expressions picked out from the media to describe today's story, right?

  • Yes, we are looking at: 'stark', 'a wake-up call' and 'dire'.

  • 'Stark', 'a wake-up call' and 'dire'. Catherine, let's have a look at your first headline please.

  • Sure. We are starting today in Scotland with The Nationalthe headline "COP26: UN issues stark warning on state of climate crisis"

  • 'Stark' – clear and unpleasant. Catherine, what can you tell us about 'stark'?

  • Well, 'stark', Tom, is an adjective. The spelling is: S-T-A-R-K. And as you said, it means clear and unpleasant. So, the warning that the UN has given about climate change is a clear warning, it's an unpleasant warning. It's really, kind of... the idea is shocking and something that's very difficult to ignore.

  • So, we're talking about 'stark' in the context of climate change, which is obviously a hugely important global issue. When could we use this word in more everyday speech, or an everyday context?

  • Yeah, we get 'stark' warnings all the time and in our personal lifeyou imagine a child at school and this child is misbehaving, and the first couple of times the teacher, kind of... you know, just checks them quite gently, but maybe the third or fourth time of bad behaviour, they're going to get a 'stark' warning from the teacher.

  • - Maybe a kind of... you know, a threat of punishment or they might raise their voice a little bit. And then the child will be really, really clear about the possible consequences if they don't change their behaviour. - Yeah, they could get a letter home or something like that. Yeah. - Yeah.

  • So, we could have a 'stark warning'. Are there any other collocations that go with this adjective 'stark'?

  • Yes, we can talk... it means, in the sense of claritythings being very clearyou can talk about a 'stark contrast': two things are very, very differentthere's a 'stark contrast'.

  • So, we could say that black is a 'stark contrast' to white, right? As a basic example. Now, I know that there's one other collocation, which is quite common in British English, which is 'stark naked', right?

  • 'Stark naked', yes. You... you use that especially if somebody sort of.... if you surprise somebody when they're getting changed, for example. You might say, 'Ooh, they were stark naked!'

  • They were clearly and unpleasantly naked, you could almost say! OK. Thank you for that Catherine. Thanks for the examples. Let's take a look at our summary slide please:

  • OK. Today we're talking about a 'stark' warning from the UN on climate change. The UN, in 2019, also delivered a 'stark' warning from a report on nature loss and we did a News Review about this. Catherine, how can the audience find this?

  • You just have to click the link.

  • Just click the link in the description. Great! Catherine, let's have a look at your second headline please.

  • Yes, we're here with the BBC News and the headline "Stark warning over climate (change) a 'wake-up call"

  • 'A wake-up call' – a shocking event, which can cause changes in behaviour or attitude. Catherine, over to you.

  • Yes. Now, we start with 'a'. Then the second word: 'wake' – W-A-K-E. Third word is 'up' – U-P. Butthose two words, 'wake' and 'up', are joined with a hyphen when you write them. And the final word is 'call' – C-A-L-L. So, you have 'a wake-up call'. Now, Tom, I'm sure you've had 'a wake-up call' in a hotel, haven't you, at some point in your life?

  • I have, yeah. 'A wake-up call' in a hotel is when someone gives you a phone call to wake you up, or stop you from sleeping.

  • Yes, and it's a bit of a shock, isn't it? When you're lying... you wake up in a strange bed with the phone ringing and you're, like, 'Where am I? What's happening?' It sort of makes you jump a bit, doesn't it?

  • It's... it's alarming, yeah. And you could say it causes alarm, yeah.

  • Yes. Which is why we call it an 'alarm call' sometimes. So, that's the kind of idea of 'a wake-up call' originally. Now, in this context, we're not talking about hotels and making you wake up in the morning, but we are talking about a shock: something that, kind of, jolts you into reality and makes you pay attention and take action.

  • OK. So, we're talking about 'wake-up call', again in this serious context of climate change. Could you give us an example of when we can use 'wake-up call' in a more everyday context?

  • - Yes. Well, if you think about those lazy students, Tom. I'm sure you weren't one but, you know, there's always that time at university when you get fed up of working really hard and the grades slip a bit and it's a bit... - Yeah, I heard... I heard about that timeNever happened to me, obviously. - Yes... I'm sure, I'm sure.

  • And then one day you get a grade, which is really quite low: it's a D, maybe an E even, and you go, 'Ugh... oh, no! Right, party time's over. I'm going to have to start working, because if I don't I'm gonna fail this course.'

  • So, that bad gradethat D or that E – was a 'wake-up call' because it makes you get back to reality, work harder. So, a serious warning that makes you change your behaviour is 'a wake-up call'.

  • - So, low grades are 'a wake-up call' to lazy students and of course... - Should be.

  • And of course, anyone watching this is taking ownership of their education and will not need that 'wake-up call'. Great! Let's have our summary slide please:

  • OK. Talking about waking up, we have another News Review on people who can't sleep during lockdown. Catherine, where can they find this?

  • Just click that link.

  • Click that link in the description. Great! Catherine, let's have a look at our next headline for today please.

  • And we're in Ireland now: RTEthe headline "UN report set to dire climate change warnings"

  • 'Dire' – very serious; bad. Catherine, what can you tell us about this word?

  • It has four letters, Tom: D-I-R-E. It's pronounced 'dire' and yes, it means very, very serious or very, very bad.

  • So, in the headline 'dire climate change warnings' – we've also spoken about 'stark warnings' today. What's the difference between these two adjectives 'dire' and 'stark'?

  • Yes, they're very closely related. They talked about 'dire warnings' and 'stark warnings'. 'Stark' means it's really, really clear: if something's 'stark', it's obvious, it's very difficult to ignore. If something's bad... sorry! If something's 'dire', it's really, really bad.

  • So, both of those words, 'stark' and 'dire', relate to something being serious, but 'stark' is clear – 'dire' is bad.

  • And this word 'dire', when we talk about 'dire climate change warnings' – obviously warnings about climate changethings could get very bad: big, serious context. Again, can we use it in more everyday speech?

  • Absolutely. Anything that is really, really badlike, really, really bad can be 'dire'. Anything from a film, to a song, to a party, to a pizzayou can get a terrible, really, really bad teacher... pizza! You can say, 'That pizza was absolutely dire!' It means the worst pizza you've ever eaten.

  • Yeah. It's, kind of, very disappointing, isn't it?

  • - Terrible... just terrible ... - If something's 'dire'.

  • Anyway, hopefully no one's gonna be thinking that our News Review is 'dire' today, so on... on that funny joke, let's cut to the slide please.

  • OK. Catherine, can you recap today's vocabulary for the audience, please?

  • Yes. We had 'stark' – clear and unpleasant; we had 'a wake-up call' – a shocking event which can cause changes to attitude or behaviour, and 'dire', which means very serious and bad.

  • Thank you, Catherine. Don't forget we have a quiz on today's vocabulary: is the website, and of course we're all over social media as well. That's it from us today. Thank you for being here and goodbye.

  • Goodbye!

Climate change is 'code red for humanity', says the United Nations. Hi, I'm Tom. Joining me this morning is Catherine. Hi, Catherine.

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Climate crisis: Last warning for humanity? BBC News Review

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/08/10
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