Read a story

Monika was sleepy. She hadn’t slept enough. Only five hours! She had to finish a Polish essay and then revise for Maths test. But even if she did, she didn’t expect the test she had just written would appear to be successful. It was hopeless. At least the Biology lesson was not stressful. It was relaxing after all the tension at Maths lesson. The teacher was harmless: speaking in her usual calm voice, but she heard only fragments of the lesson. It was about ecology and she simply hated this topic. She couldn’t understand why they had to talk about it not only on Biology or Geography, but even on English lessons. When she heard about acid rains, greenhouse effect, alternative sources of energy, protected plants and animals, oil spills or recycling, she felt sick. Everybody hated it, not only her. And everybody knew we can’t do anything really. In the future air pollution will be so big that we won’t have any oxygen to breathe, all animals will die and landfill sites will be so big that we won’t have any place to stamp a foot. But who cares? Probably we will all be dead at that time and our granchildren will learn to live with it. Somehow.
‘So next week we are having guests here. They’ll come to the lesson to tell you about ecology’. ‘Ecologists’, somebody giggled. A hand rose. ‘Professor, are they going to tie themselves to the trees in the schoolyard to protect them against deforestation?’ – Marek asked maliciously and everybody laughed. The teacher’s voice vanished in our laughter and there was a pause, finally.
We all forgot about the guests expected next Thursday, but they came. There were four of them: three young men and a girl. They looked normal – weren’t wearing any green hats or hunters’ clothes.

‘What are the problems of environment you have to deal with?’ – asked the one in a blue sweater. Kasia rose her hand. Well, she always does, because she is a swot. ‘For example global warming’, she said. ‘The carbon dioxide that…’ The blue boy interrupted her. ‘OK’, he said. ‘This is from the lessons. But what are your problems?’ There was silence. I thought about fumes – I really hate them and I think people should perhaps take buses and not drive a car. I didn’t say anything, because I ­would be decapitated instantly: almost all people in my class go to school by car. Nobody said anything, but the blue boy didn’t seem surprised. ‘OK’, he said. ‘I’m going to show you something’. And started a slide show. I thought it would be a lecture, but it wasn’t. There was some green forest on the screen, bird’s eye, and a river meandering like a silver ribbon. Slide after slide. It was beautiful, so green and clean. The thick forest looked like a jungle. The show finished and the boy asked: ‘Do you know this place?’ ‘Is it in the Amazon?’, somebody asked. ‘No. It’s in Poland. The place is called Rospuda River Valley.’ Well, I had never heard about it before, but I thought it would be nice to go there. ‘Rospuda is in danger’, he continued. ‘There is already a decision taken that it will be crossed by an expressway called Via Baltica, which is going to join Warsaw and Helsinki, financed by the European Union.’ I didn’t understand. This green forest to be crossed by a motorway! I couldn’t believe! I couldn’t resist and raised my hand. ‘But they can’t do it’, I said. ‘It will pollute the forest… They will be noise and fumes…’ ‘Even worse’, he said. ‘They will cut down lots of trees. Lots of animals will lose their homes. It is a unique home to some birds, very rare in Poland. There will be sewage, fumes, pollution. Nature will be simply destroyed here.’ Tomek, who is really intelligent, raised his hand. ‘How is it possible that the European Union will finance this investment? Doesn’t it care for the environment?’ ‘It does’, the blue boy said. ‘But some people don’t care. Probably the Union will not pay for it. There might even be some big fine imposed by the Union. We all protested a lot, the ecologists wanted to convince the government that the other option was better.’ ‘The other option?’, I almost shouted. ‘I didn’t think there was another option. How come?’ ‘The other option is shorter and safer for the environment’, the boy answered sadly. ‘But some people don’t take it into consideration, they only want to earn money on grounds.’ We were so shocked that we didn’t hear the bell. We rushed to the ecologists. Everybody wanted to sign the list. I asked the blue boy: ‘Eeh… excuse me? Is there anything I could do, eeh…’ ‘My name is Maciek’, he said. ‘Monika’ ‘Monika, if you want, you can join us. We are going to the valley to protest. Tomorrow.’ ‘Tomorrow?’, I didn’t know what to say. ‘OK’. I looked at him and noticed that not only his sweater was blue: his eyes were also blue. ‘Like the Ros­puda River’, I thought.

Improve your vocabulary!

acid rain – kwaśny deszcz
air/water pollution – zanieczysz­czenie powiet­rza/wody
alternative sources of energy – alternatywne źródła energii
carbon dioxide – dwutlenek węgla
cut down trees – wycinać drzewa
deforestation – wycinanie lasów
landfill site/dump – wysypis­ko śmieci
ecologist – ekolog
ecology – ekologia
environment – środowisko
fumes – spaliny
global warming – globalne ocieplenie
greenhouse effect – efekt cieplarniany
oil spill – wyciek ropy
oxygen – tlen
pollute – zanieczyszczać
polluted – zanieczyszczony
pollution – zanieczyszczenie
protected – chroniony
recycling – przetwarzanie odpadów
sewage – ścieki