World Environmental Problems: Vocabulary Exercise

The top ten world environmental issues with vocabulary, listening practice and pronunciation. Learn useful vocabulary and the pronunciation to be able to talk and write about these issues.

List of Top Environmental Problems in the Modern World

  •  acid rain = rain which is polluted by chemicals
  • deforestation =  rain forests and wooded areas being cut down
  • loss of biodiversity = species becoming extinct
  • ozone layer depletion = the ozone layer is being destroyed and becoming thinner
  • land degradation = soil and land pollution as well as desertification
  • resource depletion = lack of natural resources worldwide
  • climate change = negative changes to the world weather patterns
  • air pollution = air that contains pollutants
  • marine pollution = the pollution of our oceans and seas
  • over population = the increasing population of the world

Listen to Audio

Learn More About Current World Issues

Learn more about the top 10 environmental world issues facing us today. Listen to the recording and fill in the gaps. You may use no more than 3 words and/or numbers to complete the sentences. This exercise is to help you improve your vocabulary, your pronunciation and also your awareness of these issues for your IELTS test.

Acid rain

  • Rain that contains large amounts of (1)………………. This can cause serious health problems as particles of pollution can enter people’s (2)…………………..
  • Acid rain can (3)……………. into the ground causing soil pollution.
  • As rain falls into lakes and river this can cause water pollution.
  • Acid rain can also be responsible for damaging (4)……………

  1. chemicals
  2. lungs
  3. seep
  4. buildings



  • Deforestation is the destruction of forests and the cutting down of trees on a large scale.
  • As forests are cut down, it affects the atmosphere and (1)………………… as trees play a large part in the water cycle.
  • Another problem is the loss of (2)……………………. Some species of plants and animals have already been lost while others remain endangered. This is due to the loss of their (3)………..
  • This process affects climate change. Trees (4)……………… CO2 and give off oxygen. By destroying forests more CO2 remains in the atmosphere affecting the climate.
  • In the area where the trees have been removed, (5)……………….. occurs as the earth is exposed to the sun’s heat. This evaporates much needed nutrients contained in the soil and is very difficult to reverse.

  1. ecosystem
  2. biodiversity
  3. habitat
  4. absorb
  5. soil erosion


Loss of Biodiversity

  • Each species, no matter how small, has a role to play in the (1) …………………
  • A larger number of plant species means a greater variety of (2)………………..
  • Greater species diversity ensures (3) …………………. for all life forms; and healthy ecosystems can better withstand and recover from a variety of disasters.
  • The loss of biodiversity can affect our (4)………………, access to clean water and also the range of raw materials.

  1. ecosystem
  2. crops
  3. natural sustainability
  4. food security


Ozone Layer Depletion

  • The ozone provides essential protection from the (1)……….. ultraviolet radiation.
  • Certain industrial compounds (2)…………. the ozone layer.
  • This reduces the ability of the ozone to protect (3)……………… from UV radiation.
  • This is a global issue as the compounds affecting the ozone come from other parts of the world to where the problem lies.

  1. sun’s
  2. break down
  3. surface life


Land Degradation

  • This relates to changes in the land which reduces its (1)………………………………
  • Factors that have contributed to land degradation include soil erosion, (2)……………………, desertification and loss of vegetation cover.
  • Many of these factors are (3)………………… by human activities.
  • With a growing world population, land degradation can have serious effects on our ability to feed everyone due to reduced (4)…………….. in major food crops.

  1. productive potential
  2. loss of fertility
  3. exacerbated
  4. yields


Resource Depletion

  • Humans are using (1)……….. more resources than the Earth can replenish each year.
  • This leads to pollution, land degradation, soil erosion and (2)………………
  • This problem is worsening as populations and consumption keep growing.
  • (3)………………….. are unable to keep up with the rate of resource depletion.
  • Some scientists believe that by 2030 we will need two planets to provide our wants.
  • The US and China account for more than (4)…………… of the planet’s ecological footprint, with 21% each.

  1. 30%
  2. deforestation
  3. Science and technology
  4. two-fifths


Climate Change

  • The build up of (1)……………… into the atmosphere have led to changes in the world’s climates.
  • The cause of this can be found in carbon emissions and the combustion of (2)………………..
  • Climate change can be felt in the rise in temperatures and the changes of (3)……………….. on a global scale.
  • As a result droughts, floods, wildfires and storms are becoming more frequent.
  • With the increase in temperatures comes the rise in sea levels which threaten (4)…………………. lands.
  • The future consequences are potentially devastating.

  1. greenhouse gases
  2. fossil fuels
  3. weather patterns
  4. low lying


Air Pollution

  • Combustion, mining, factories, (1)………………., farming, fires and automobiles all pose threats as potential air pollutants.
  • This endangers our health and ecosystem.
  • Smog, mainly from factory smoke, is (2)……………… and can produce chronic problems such as lung disease, asthma and heart disease, resulting in an estimated 200,000 (3)………… deaths per year.

  1. power plants
  2. hazardous
  3. premature


Marine Pollution

  • The main contributor of ocean pollution begins on land, namely non-point pollution from septic tanks, sewage sludge, car oil leaks, boats and (1) …………………., which make their way to the sea.
  • Other reasons for the pollution is that some boats and even countries (2)………….. their waste directly into the ocean.
  • Water covers approximately (3)…………… of our globe, it would seem that it is an (4)…………… resource but it is not.
  • Humans are destroying the homes of millions of (5)………………………, some of which we know little to nothing about.
  • Ocean pollution is not only devastating for the sea creatures, it can also be devastating for (6)……………….. as well.

  1. farm chemicals
  2. deposit
  3. 70%
  4. abundant
  5. aquatic creatures
  6. humans


World Population

  • The world population is currently 7 billion and is estimated to be (1)………………. by 2024.
  • This is due to improved living standards and medicine which results in a (2)………………… and lower infant mortality.
  • Over population will result in (3)……………………… and an increase in carbon emissions worsening climate change.
  • In urban areas it may result in lower standards of living and increasing (4)……………………
  • Feeding such a large population will also create challenges.
  • Safe, environmentally friendly (5)………………. will also become a problem as the world population grows which can result in growing pollution.

  1. 8 billion
  2. longer life span
  3. draining world resources
  4. crime rates
  5. waste disposal



Information for this lesson was collected from various sources including,, and greenliving.

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  1. Zaiba Rafique says

    Hi Liz, I am going to take my test on Computer at 11th of June and soon I’ll share my results with you. I have not prepared from anywhere except from your website.

    • Make sure you are also using the Cambridge IELTS test books which are authentic tests!!

  2. Great post.

  3. Ecosystem
    Soil erosion

  4. Chemicals

  5. shoaib says

    Could you make a video on Self Introduction(speaking) for Ielts

  6. Maksuda says

    Hello Ma’am!
    your site is great support for us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart 🙂

  7. Hi Liz,

    These practice tests are very useful for the listening practice as well as vocabulary building. I listened to them once and tried to model the real listening practice. The outcome was highly impressive.

    Thank you may God bless you abundantly.

  8. Svenja says

    Thank you Liz! This is a great site to start learning about a topic. I love the structure of this page by firstly introducing essential words and than giving examples. I wish there would be more sites like this covering topics like family, healthcare, government, education and other topics we’ll be asked to write an essay about. This is SO helpful! Thank you!!!

  9. Frank Kofi Vidogo says

    Thanks so much Liz. These listening practices are timely and they are just what I need to do well.

  10. Thank uh so muchh … Vocabulary related to environmental problem provided by uh helps me a lot

  11. kamran says

    very good thing. I think, a complete work you have done with this topic. There is nothing remain in this topic. Ample material is given by you about environmental problems

  12. Mehak says

    Thank you so much for this outstanding support Liz….

  13. Ashlyn J says

    Hello Liz,

    Thank you for the wonderful work you’ve done for students.

    I am having an test sometimes this spring and I am curious if the environmental problems are still popular topics in writing and speaking. Is it helpful to read the relevant articles and to memorize the collocations?

    • Environmental problems are current world issues and therefore will always be relevant for IELTS writing and speaking.

      • Muhammad Sumon says

        Thank you very much for your hard work which is done for the IELTS students! I’m also a student of IELTS,and I will attend IELTS exam in December.Again casting you thanks and cordial love!

  14. Can I have these MP3 files about the environment so that I can listen to them as many times as possible?

  15. love you so much , you are my role model

  16. Dear Liz,
    I wanna thank u first from the core of my heart coz u’re doing great for those who are struggling with their English. Unfortunately, I’m also one of them. Particularly, my speaking is suffering from bad fluency. I don’t have anyone to practise with. So how can I get someone who converse with me and correct me as well. Whatelse I can do.. Please help me with more suggestions… Lots of love again.

    • Don’t confuse fluency with accuracy. Accuracy relates to grammar and vocabulary. You don’t need someone to correct you, you need to review your understanding of words and also basic / intermediate grammar. You also need to practice using different tenses – past, future forms, comparatives, second conditionals etc. You can do all this on your own at home.
      Fluency requires you to focus on expanding answers, not accuracy. So, the key to success is practising and developing accuracy at home before your test so that when you enter the test room, your accuracy is already natural and strong.
      Developing fluency is about developing ideas and making a list of your own memories or your own opinions which you can give in the test. Again, you can do this on your own at home. You focus on common and recent topics.
      So, most of the preparation can be done by you at home for free. See this page:

  17. Hi Liz,

    In Resource Depletion section can i write 2/5TH instead of two-fifths as answer for fourth question?


  18. Aquiles Reviento says


  19. Mam can you tell me how to complete true false questions

  20. mugtaba says

    love you so much liz, doing such a great job for almos free and dedicate your time for that .

  21. Please Liz, could you correct my essays? Or do you another teacher? Thanks.

  22. dear liz, to make it easy i love you !!!

  23. safa akın says

    hi liz here is a confusing reading question for you .
    writer writes an information according to another person’s opinion maybe poet or thinker and they ask that information in yes /no question what should we do then ? okay it is yes according to that poet or thinker but important question is what about writer ? is it yes or not given ?

  24. Sui Ca khen says

    Dear Liz

    I have two questions from the sentence below that is from Acid Rain topic.
    As rain falls into lakes and river this can cause water pollution.

    1. Is there “,” between the words river and this?
    2. I thought I heard “rivers” in the recording, but there is “s” missing in the sentence.

    or are they just typo?

    Thank you


    • Thanks. Yes, it’s a typo. There should be an “s” in rivers. I don’t understand your first question, ask me again more clearly so I can understand.

  25. Miss. Liz
    Honestly and heart fully, words are not enough to thank your incredible efforts.

  26. Hi Liz I would like to copy your material but it doesnt workpls can u help me

  27. Simin Shahrin says

    Hi Liz,
    If in task 2, I have to write about pollution then can I give 3 reasons as like, air pollution, Marine pollution, Land degradation as in 1, 2 and 3 paragraph as body?
    For 3rd paragraph of body anti-logic is necessary or not?

  28. Pallavi says

    Hi Liz,

    I would like thank you for this wonderful website. I have some problems with my vocabulary. One of them is, I am not sure when to separate words and when to write them together. For instance, midsummer, forecourt, forehead, break down etc.

    Could you please provide some suggestions on this?

    Thanks and Regards,

  29. Dear Liz,
    At first I like to appreciate you for developing your site, it’s really helpful inorder to achieve desired ielts score. Especially, student’s like me who are struggling to score well in IELTS. I am hardly trying to score 6 in each band but unfortunately, I couldn’t able to make it possible till now. I participated several times in the ielts exam and every time scored 6 overall but always missed out in reading section, out of five times I was able to score 5.5 in reading three times and twice 5. Would you please provide me some tactics which can be helpful to score 6 or more in reading and also, some suggestion regards to writting section. I am thinking to attend GT within 15 days because it’s really important to clear my ielts as soon as possible. So, I need some important suggestions which will be helpful for me to achieve my desired score.
    However, today I attempted GT practice test from your site and was able to score 27 out of 40 questions. I think the test was really easy one compare to real ielts test but I could not make it count. So, I am totally depressed and need help from you.

    • The problem is probably due to your level of English which can’t be changed quickly. But also it might be with the way you tackle each type of question, how quick you are at scanning, how much time you spend skimming and if you can differentiate between similar words which are not actually the same. Unfortunately, I can’t write a few sentences with a magic answer. You must review your techniques and vocabulary. Don’t get down. It is possible to get a good score with time and practice.
      All the best

  30. Chintan Vaghela says

    Hey Lilz,

    first of all I would like to tell you thanks for such nice site.

    my exam date is 29/09/2014

    can you help me to how to start speaking practice ?

    • I would start by going through the practice questions for each part of the test and plan ideas for answers. Then do a practice test – there are two on my blog. That will give you an idea of how long your answer should be but you can learn about this here: Once you understand the length of answers, it just a case of preparing topics, ideas and practising your answers. Practise speaking out loud on your own. Recording your answers and then listening back. Remember you are being marked on your language not your ideas. So, using appropriate vocabulary and also a range of grammar tenses is key.
      All the best

      • Chintan Vaghela says

        Thanks Lily.

        Can I achieve 6 band level speaking in 2 month? I am not native speaker.

        Please advise me step by step.

        what I do fist?

        • It’s not really possible for me to say. If your level of English is similar to the level needed for band score 6, then you can achieve it if you prepare properly. But if your level of English is much lower than band score 6, it will take quite a long time. Here’s a link to learn more about the band scores. You’ll find links to details of band scores 5 to 8 for writing – check those links:
          All the best

          • Chintan Vaghela says

            thanks for your quick response.

            I have already done practice with Listening and Reading Module.

            I have trouble in Speaking and writing module

            can you suggest me how to start this module?

            • Start by reviewing models and then look at practice questions. For speaking, building ideas but consider how you will get good, appropriate examples of language into your answers. For writing, this about how your ideas will be presented and organised. You’ll find models and practice questions in the writing and speaking section of this blog.
              All the best

  31. dang tran says

    Thank you Liz,
    I consider that very important to me to practice following your posts. That would be supporting me enhance my band score!

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