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Will there be Life after Oil ?

Answer: Yes. The twentieth century was the century of OIL; but the twenty-first will be the age of cleaner types of fuel. It will have to be.
Offshore oil
Oil will not last for ever; and extracting it will become much more expensive
     To start with, we cannot go on using oil for ever. We can do so for a few more decades - perhaps until 2070, then it will run out. There will be none left - or at least, there will be hardly any left.

    At present, there is still plenty of oil under the ground. There is oil under the North Sea and under the Atlantic Ocean. Engineers keep finding new sources of oil. But there are some realities which cannot be avoided.
    a) The quantity of oil under the ground and under the sea is not infinite. It will not last for ever.
    b) As oil becomes rarer, it will become harder to extract. It will also become more and more expensive. It will therefore become more expensive than other fuels.
    c) Oil will always cause pollution.
    Of course, there are also other truths:
    d) Scientists are making new forms of oil, using plants.
    e) Most of the oil that we eat comes from plants; and it is sometimes possible to make petrol from this oil. For instance, some types of diesel-fuel already contain sun-flower oil.
Sunflowers make oil
Sunflowers produce oil too; but most of this oil is needed for cooking.
    Sun-flower oil is cleaner than mineral oil, so it causes less pollution. But perhaps, in the long term, vegetable oils are not a good solution for the future;  in the future we may need all the land for producing food.
    In reality, the future will have to be a future without oil - or with very little oil.
    Scientists are already developing cars, houses and plastics that do not use oil. Electricity will be the energy of the third millennium, but it will have to be clean electricity.
    Today, electricity is produced in Britain in several different ways; some of it is produced using oil; but already oil-burning power-stations are being closed. Nuclear power-stations will be closed too, because they are very expensive and people do not want them.
    Tomorrow's electricity will be made from gas, and from "renewable sources".
    In the short term, gas will be an important source of energy. It is cleaner than oil, and easier to extract. There is also a lot more gas than oil under the ground! Gas can be used in cars and houses too.
    In the long term, all our energy will come from "renewable sources" -  including water! The sun, the wind, the rivers and the oceans will give us all the energy that we need! It will be clean energy - with no pollution - and it will last for ever.
    We are not there yet, however! The twenty-first century will be a century of change. People who are over 50 today are not going to see a world without oil. Those who are under twenty may perhaps do so...... if they live long enough.

Word guide
fuel: solid, gas or liquid that can be burned for energy - decade: period of 10 years - keep: continue to - avoid: pass, not mention - infinite: endless - extract: take out of the ground - for instance: for example - in the long term: in the long distant future - power-station: a place where electricity is made.

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Student Worksheet

Will there be Life after Oil ?

Modal verbs : will and others

Choose the most suitable modal verb in each of the following sentences: these sentences are not necessarily related to the article

1. People who live in New York can /will / must see the Statue of Liberty.
2. You will / may / must / can pass your driving test before you will / may / must / can drive .
3. In 2100, people cannot / will not can / will not be able to use oil as we do today.
4. In 15 years’ time, people must / will have to / will must use more electric cars.
5. I am 15 today, so I will / can / may / must still be alive in the year 2050.
6. If I buy a lottery ticket, I may / can / must / will win the jackpot. If I don’t, I may not / will
not be able to / must not.

Reusing information :

Complete this résumé of the article, putting appropriate words in the blanks

    Oil is one of the most important __________ of  ___________ in today's world; but unless we ____________ finding more and more, it will not ___________ for ____________. In less than a century, it will ______ ______.
    Most of the oil we _____ comes from the ground, but some comes from _______ . But plants cannot produce all the oil we ________.
    In tomorrow's world, we will use ______ oil and more ____________, but most of this will have to come from _______________ ___________.
    In the _______ _______ we will use a lot of ___________, but later we will have to get our _____________ from natural forces.


Ideas for teachers

Simple technical English
►  Introduction: Remember.... When you study an article in class, it is often useful to have students analyze the language and the structure of sentences. Often students are put off by articles because they imagine that they look hard — however easy they may really be.....
This article is technical; but it is not in difficult English.
Will and modal verbs.  This text is a good illustration of when to use "will" to form the future in English. Remember that will is by no means the only way to express the future in English. For more on this see the Future in English.
► Oral expression: Discuss "oil" with your students. What is it? Where does it come from? What do we use it for? Could we do without it? (Pupils should learn do without, a useful prepositional verb). How long will it last? Can we make it?
    If you talk about all these points in class, then the article should be very easy to follow.

 Syntax: Note the use of modal verbs in this article.


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This teaching resource is © copyright Linguapress 2000 - 2015.
Revised 2015 . Originally published in Freeway, the intermediate level English newsmagazine.
Republication on other websites or in print is not authorised

Linguapress; home Découvrez l'Angleterre (en français) Discover Britain

easy intermediate English resource

Target readers : teenagers, young adults.
Language point: will and modals

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