(Level: Advanced)




Exercise 1


Click below and read the article that appears:


'As Consumerism Spreads, Earth Suffers, study says'

Online Article - National Geographic News 2010


PART 1: Paragraphs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7

VOCABULARY in paragraph 1

a lock on

a hold/nothing changed/the situation was fixed, the situation continued

over consumption

more than necessary/greedy habits also used with:-

over-spending = spending too much money

over-production = manufacturing more things than are needed

to catch up

(phrasal verb)

'catching up rapidly'

to reach the level of other people - sports ability /academic ability

competitive growth / technological developments.

to the detriment of

the situation is causing bad effect / making the situation worse

Question 1.

Write a new sentence to explain the same meaning of the following sentence

extract (don't use 'lock on')!

'Americans and Western Europeans have had a lock on unsustainable

over-consumption for decades.'

Question 2.

Write a sentence to explain what is causing “…..detriment of the environment,

health and happiness'”

VOCABULARY - paragraph 2



place where the organisation administration operates/ head office

the excesses

the over-spending during the holiday season

run amuck

to run amok

(incorrect US spelling – English spelling 'amok')

to go everywhere uncontrollably / something bad spreads uncontrollably

e.g. the HIV virus has ran amok in Africa.


an appropriate time (after people had been spending in the holidays)

VOCABULARY - paragraph 3

characterized by

habits and behaviours

accumulation of


devoted to

highly committed to/keep on doing/addicted to


Question 3.

What is the phrase (two words) in the text which describes people who buy

non-essential goods?

Which non-essential goods are consumers devoted to, in your city /or country?

VOCABULARY - paragraph 5


to meet basic needs

to satisfy essential needs

even harder

('even' is used to exaggerate)

more and more difficult

e.g. its even hotter today (its getting hotter and more hotter)


to reduce effectiveness;

an action or speech which affects a situation, and causes it to weaken.


never known before/never happened before

Question 4

Give some examples of the unprecedented consumer appetite?

Question 5

According to the President of the Worldwatch Institute; what are the advantages

and disadvantages of the new consumer society?

Question 6

What problems are caused by the 'throw away' mentality.


VOCABULARY - paragraph 6


discusses/points out/highlights the fact

devastating toll

terrible cost in money and lives


many and various, more than you need

to exact

taken/caused by force/ charged

built-in product-obsolescence


a product manufactured badly, to break or fail so it is no longer useful or usable.

a product or system which no longer exists/no longer manufactured


Report writing sometimes uses different sentence clause construction.

Compare article sentence text (1), with my sentence text (2):-



'Perfectly timed, after the excesses of the holiday season, the report put out by

the Washington D.C. based research organisation, focuses this year on consumerism

'run amuck'.


The report, put out by the Washington D.C. based research organisation,

was perfectly timed, after the excesses of the holiday season, and focuses

this year on consumerism 'run amuck'.

When there are several clauses in the sentence, we can change their positions.

In the article, the main factual point, is the focus of the report, at the end of the sentence “.....focuses this year on consumerism run amuck”. Main subject is 'the report'.

Additional clause is '.perfectly timed after the excesses of the holiday season', which describes the timeliness of the report (when it was issued).

Sentence (1) does not have to include Relative Clause 'which was', because it starts the sentence with 'perfectly timed', which is an Adverbial Clause.

(How was it timed? - perfectly!)

We can split the sentence into 2 sentences by adding Relative Clauses which was and it was. e.g. The report, which was put out by the Washington D.C. based research organisation, focuses this year on consumerism run amuck. It was perfectly timed, after the excesses of the holiday season.

You may notice these sentence structures in other newspaper or magazine articles.

PART 2: “Luxuries to Necessities” (article paragraphs 8 – 11)

VOCABULARY - paragraphs 8–11


driving factor



not controllable (like a horse without a bridle!)


farm animals (sheep, cows, pigs, goats)


measure of food weight (UK and US)

belching, flatulent

wind in stomach, burps and farts!


early improvements

Question 7

What attitudes have changed in developing countries, caused by globalization?

Question 8

What are the two main items of consumption, in most countries, which are affecting

our world?



Question 9

Which piece of information concerns you and why?


Question 10

What problems to humans are being caused by factory farming?

PART 3 “Not Much Happier” (article paras 18 – 22)

VOCABULARY – paragraphs 18-22





there is proof


'counter' - causes the opposite effect


not active


a disease spreads to hundreds or thousands of people


getting higher quickly


rising like a tide of water

heavy reliance

to rely on / people cannot live without


widespread/run amok

Also check word definitions in the Macmillan English Dictionary


Write about the topic


Its a big subject! - choose a few facts from the text and explain your thoughts.

Write half a page or as much as you want to; I will correct your sentences.

Tell me if you would like more lessons like this one. :))

Download this page to your computer and write your answers with the questions.

Save your answers as 'RW.M2...your name.....

Email me your finished document, then I can correct your writing.

This lesson topic is available for additional SPEAKING LESSON – 20 , 40 or 60mins.

This READING AND WRITING LESSON must be done first!

MONEY, Consumerism, Cost to environment. Lesson Exercises RW.M2. Copyright Amelia Hoskins, Talking English Today.

Website article Copyright National Geographic.