IN A NUTSHELL 44/2018

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AGNIESZKA RADWAŃSKA ENDS CAREER

The best Polish female tennis player in history, Agnieszka Radwańska, decided to end her professional career. She announced her decision on her facebook profile on November 14, 2018, disappointing her fans who had hoped the 29-year-old would continue to appear on courts for a few years to come. Not long ago Radwańska was number 2 in the world, giving the invincible Serena Williams a run for her money. In her entry which summarizes her time as a competitive player she wrote she had played the sport for 13 years, won 20 WTA titles, the WTA Championships in Singapore and made it to the final of Wimbledon. The reason why she resigns so quickly is health — in recent months she spent more time recovering from injuries than training. Experts and her opponents will remember her as a very clever player, one who was not very strong or fast but was always able to pay an unexpected, tricky ball. Perhaps to console her fans she promised she was not leaving tennis for good as she plans her next job to be connected with the sport.

ELECTRIC CARS NOT AS GREEN AS PROMISED

In terms of CO2 emission fully electric cars seem to be a perfect way to save our planet from becoming warmer — while driving they obviously produce no CO2 whatsoever. However, skeptics point out that the energy used to power such vehicles must come from a power plant which is, more often than not, burning coal. Now the Swedish Environmental Research Institute (IVL) counted how much CO2 is generated during production of batteries for electric cars. It turned out that on average producing a battery with the capacity of 1 kWh means releasing 150-200kg of CO2 into the atmosphere, which transfers to 5.3-17.5 tonnes of CO2 for batteries used in models of cars available today (Nissan Leaf 30 kWh, Tesla S – 100 kWh). Those numbers have little meaning for standard consumers, so the Swedes also put it this way: it would take 2.5 years of driving a standard, petrol engine car with an average mileage to emit as much as it is necessary to produce batteries for Nissan Leaf and full 8 years to make a Tesla. The bottom line is such cars would really be ecological if all energy used to produce batteries was 100% green as well.

AMERICA: ALCOHOL MORE DEADLY THAN DRUGS

While the fight with drugs and drug-related deaths attracts a lot of attention in almost every country it turns out there is another substance which is killing more people, silently — alcohol. A recent report published by he University of Washington reveals that in the USA there are 72,000 deaths a year caused by overdose of opioid substances and at the same time 88,000 people die because of alcohol related problems (among others cancer, liver diseases and suicide). The scientists analyzed the statistics from the last 10 years and observed that over that time alcohol-related deaths increased by 35% in case of adults with 29% increase for men and 67% for women. The only category of people who stayed away from alcohol more were teenagers as there was a 16% drop in deaths among young people. When it comes to the reasons why adult Americans started drinking more researchers believe things to blame are stressful jobs, working mothers being too tired and loneliness caused by… social media!

GERMAN START-UP DESIGNS A FAMILY-SIZE BIOMASS POWER PLANT

According to 2017 US Energy Information Administration data, natural gas generates most electricity in the US (32%), followed closely by coal (30%). Things look even less environmentally friendly in Poland which is 80% coal dependent. It is common knowledge that electricity production must shift to renewable resources. One of such resources is biomass (organic waste suitable for turning into fuel), which currently generates only 2% of electricity in the USA. A German start-up Entrande X wants to change the unhealthy balance and has just developed technology that will allow people to turn their own trash into electricity and allow them to live off the grid. Entrade X provides tools for crushing, drying and pelletising organic waste, they have also developed technology that makes it possible to mix the pellets with plastic waste and break the polluting particles of plastic using a small reactor. You just put the mix inside the reactor for several seconds and the result is a reasonably clean fuel resembling natural gas. Then all you need is a small power plant the size of a fridge, which Entrade X will happily sell you for the price of a small car (down from USD 5 million which was the price of their first mobile biomass power plant the size of a camper van).

FOR&AGAINST

It is best for a sportsperson to end their career when they are still on the top.

(Is it easy to stop playing while you are still winning? How do you know you will not continue to win for a few years? How do you feel when you end your career just because you keep losing?)

Electric cars are not more ecological than ones which use combustion engine.

(What fuel is used to produce electricity which powers electric cars? Should we first change the way we produce electricity? What happens to the batteries once they can’t be used anymore?)

Social media develop loneliness rather than help you fight it.

(How many people make real friends online? How can social media make you feel lonely? What effect may watching photos and videos of other people have on you?)

Poland can’t shift to renewable resources quicker because it has too much cheap coal available.

(Aren’t coal- and natural gas-rich countries such as United States and Germany proving that shifting to greener resources can be a good business? Are we investing enough in renewable resources? Do politics play part in coal being such a dominant energy resource in our country?)

VOCABULARY:

to announce – ogłosić

invincible – niezwyciężony

to give someone a run for their money – z powodzeniem z kimś rywalizować

entry – wpis

to rehabilitate – rehabilitować się

obviously – oczywiście

skeptics – sceptycy

coal – węgiel

battery – akumulator

capacity – pojemność

the bottom line is that – wniosek jest taki, że

green – (tu:) ekologiczny

overdose – przedawkowanie

loneliness – samotność

coal dependent – uzależniony od węgla

It’s common knowledge – powszechnie wiadomo

shift to renewable resources – przejść na odnawialne źródła energii

to live off the grid – być niepodłączonym do sieci energetycznej

power plant – elektrownia

resembling – przypominający

CHECK YOUR UNDERSTANDING

  1. Who is Agnieszka Radwańska?
  2. Why did Radwańska decide to end her career?
  3. Why could electric cars not be as green as people think?
  4. How did alcohol consumption change in the USA in the years 2007-2017?
  5. What kills more people a year in the USA – drugs or alcohol?
  6. What solution for energy production has a German start-up, Entrade X, invented?

 

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