Learning to speak English? Our Everyday Conversations help you practice. Click the audio link to hear a native speaker pronounce each word while you read. Key terms are explained at the end. Today’s conversation is about the effects of climate change.

Maya: Talk of climate change is on the news all the time. It was cold with a lot of snow this past winter, so I’m not really sure if climate change is real.

Rebecca: It’s easy to think that. But the fact that there was snow here doesn’t mean climate change isn’t real. The Earth on average is getting warmer, even if some areas are colder than normal one year. Did you know that there are a lot of animals threatened by climate change?

Maya: Really? Like what?

Rebecca: Well, I know you love whales, and the North Atlantic right whale is at risk of extinction.

Maya: It is? But how is that related to climate change?

Rebecca: The whales eat plankton. Climate change is affecting the ocean’s temperature. The warmer water contains less plankton. Less plankton means less food for the whales.

Maya: That’s awful. So climate change affects the ecosystem in the ocean where the whales live. I definitely don’t want the whales to die from lack of food! But I’m only one person. What can I do to stop this?

Rebecca: Lots of things can help stop the effects of climate change and help save animals! For starters, you can use your car less. Also, there are different ways to conserve energy in your home — turning off lights, using your air conditioner and heater less, taking shorter showers. Every little bit helps!

Now let’s review the vocabulary

Climate change means changes in the Earth’s weather, especially due to the increase in temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere that is caused in part by the increase of carbon dioxide.

Extinction is what results when something, such as a plant or animal species, has died out completely and no longer exists.

Plankton refers to the small organisms — the very small animal and plant life — that live in oceans, lakes and other waters.

An ecosystem is everything that exists in a particular environment, including living things, such as plants and animals, and things that are not living, such as rocks, soil, sunlight and water.

To conserve energy means to use energy wisely or to use as little energy as possible so there is less waste.

The American English website offers a variety of free resources for learners and teachers of English. The American English Facebook page posts learning materials for English-language learners daily.

Everyday Conversations are developed by the State Department’s Heidi Howland, a senior program officer in the Office of English Language Programs, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.