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Nature’s Vanishing Trick

Biodiversity refers to all the different kinds of living organisms (animals and plants) in a place on earth. The UN just published a study warning that biodiversity is in decline (aan het afnemen). Teenager Lily Macfarlane made a short video to try and explain why the loss of biodiversity, extinction and vanishing species really matter.

Read the following words and phrases and their definitions.

  • tansy beetle – groot goudhaantje (een keversoort)
  • banks of a river – the higher ground along the edge of a river
  • far from it – almost the opposite is true
  • species – a group of animals or plants that are similar and can produce young animals or plants
  • extinction – a situation in which something no longer exists
  • abroad – in foreign countries
  • Shifting Baseline Syndrome – het syndroom van de verschuivende ijkpunten: For example, winters used to be much colder in the Netherlands. This has been changing for years, so we start to forget the colder winters and use the higher temperatures as the new normal. Result: the baseline has shifted from colder to warmer temperatures.
  • decline – a change to a lower number or amount
  • bleak – not hopeful or encouraging
  • enriched – better, more beautiful, of a higher quality
  • reversed – turned around


First read the assignment. Next watch the video. Take notes to help you do the assignment.

1. How many species in Britain are currently in decline?
2. Name two or more animals that are threatened to disappear.
3. Is the decline of biodiversty irreversible (onomkeerbaar)?

Extra questions for more advanced listeners:

1. Explain what Lily means with the expression “the vanishing trick”.
2. Why should you care about the disappearance of a beetle or a bird?

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