Saturday, May 8, 2010

Avatar: Environment, Sustainability

A. Interview each other. Take turns asking the questions below.

1. How worried are you about the environment?

2. What is the most recent story that you have heard lately about the environment?

3. What are the biggest problems concerning the environment in your country?

4. What danger does your country pose to the global environment?

5. Do you think the American government is more concerned about its economy or the environment? Explain it.

6. Which countries are leaders in caring and not caring about the environment?

7. What do you think of environmental groups like Greenpeace? Do you know any other one?

8. Do you think our environment is impossible to be repaired now? Why (not)?

9. Do you think international meetings on the environment are useful? Have they helped? Explain it.

10. What do you do to help the environment?

B. Watch the first scene from the splendid movie Avatar. Then, in pairs, answer the questions about it. Information you might find helpful for the contextualization of the movie - taken from Avatar's informative site :

The Na'Vis

The Na'vi (in English: The People) are a race of extraterrestrial humanoids who inhabit the jungle moon of Pandora. They choose to live in harmony and natural equilibrium with their surroundings. If they become too numerous, Eywa, the intelligence they worship, may devise a way to limit their numbers before they cause an ecological imbalance, for she maintains the balance of life. Over the millennium, the Na'vi have developed a healthy respect and reverence for their surrounding environment. In return, Eywa may have affected the environment to provide them with sufficient food and shelter, creatures to ride for ground and air transportation, and an ambient, comfortable temperature throughout the different biomes of Pandora. 

1. Describe the scene.

2. How does the movie segment connect with the paragraph you have read?

3. How do you compare their beliefs with humans'?

4. How possible is it to live on Earth like the Na'Vis do in Pandora?

5. What are the possible consequences of (not) living according to their philosophy of life?

C. Now read the definitions and kinds of sustainability, taken from this brilliant educational site, which is worth visiting and a great resource for teachers.

Economic Sustainability

It means that development is economically efficient and that the benefits of such development are distributed between generations of people. Growth now will not place people living in the future in danger. 

Social Sustainability

It requires that development does not cause social conflict. In practice this means that development should increase people’s control over their own lives—that all social groups should have the opportunity to participate in decision making.

Cultural Sustainability

It requires that any development should take into account the values and beliefs affected by it. In addition, the range of cultural groups should be maintained and encouraged and the value of their heritage, traditions, and points of view recognized.

Ecological Sustainability

It means that development should take into account the maintenance of ecological processes, biological diversity, and environmental resources. To achieve this, our society needs to recognize that the survival and well-being of other species are also important.

D. Watch the second segment and answer the questions below in pairs. 

1. Describe the scene.

2. What are the possible consequences of their ideas?

3. Are they taking any of the aspects of sustainability into consideration? Justify your answer.

4. What would the American government have to do to take advantage of Pandora's resources, following the principles of sustainability?

E. Now watch the third segment from Avatar. Take a look at how the Americans dealt with the environment in Pandora in order to get the mineral they need and answer the questions.

1. Describe the scene.

2. How did the Americans deal with the environment in Pandora?

3. Explain how the four levels of sustainability were neglected.

4. What are the consequences of this act to Pandora, the moon they live in, and to the Na'Vis.



  1. Hi!
    1st of all, Congratulations on your wonderful blogs. They're exactly what I've always wanted to do but wasn't able to figure out by myself!
    And I'd also like to ask you a (little, I hope) favor:
    I've already downloaded some of your segments using Google Reader: You just have to click "Original Video source (video-play.mp4)" which appears below the videos except in the Avatar clips.
    Do you think it would be possible for this text to appear as it does below all your other videos? I'd be very thankful because Sustainability and Environment are particularly important topics and Avatar a very popular movie, so I'd love to do the activities in my classes.
    Thanks a lot anyway!

  2. Hi Margarita,
    Thanks for your motivating words. It is great to receive messages like yours.
    I'd like to help you with the downloads, but I'm not sure I can. I don't know what you mean about google reader because I don't know how to download videos that way, only with realplayer. I also don't see the message original video source in my posts like you do. If it is placed in other posts, it was certainly done by accident. If you teach me how to do it, though, I will do it for you and other readers too. Pardon my poor knowledge on the issue. I always download the segments with realplay, a real piece of cake. Have you tried it? Hope to hear from you again.

  3. Thanks, Arnold. I'm really glad you enjoy it. Do come back often. See you.

  4. Hi!
    Thanks for answering so soon! Unfortunately, it’s me who is not an expert at all, so I can’t explain very well and I don’t want to bother you, anyway. I’ll just use Real Player as you say.
    Keep up your great work,

  5. Thanks for sharing this great news with us, i am really inspired by your post, you dont it really really well.

  6. Thanks. It's great to hear that. Come back often.

  7. WE LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!! Thanks a bunch!!!
    You are a genious!!

  8. Wow, your work is amazing! I was just looking for something like this to use with my students and wanted to thank you for the idea.... :D so thank you!!!!

  9. Thanks for your kind words. I'm glad this has been helpful. See you.

  10. Great work! Great ideas! I just needed exactly this kind of stuff for lessons.

  11. Hi Claudio, I`d like to thank you once more. Your site has been a great resource for my English lessons. Cheers!

  12. You're welcome. It is wonderful to help other fellow teachers. See you.

  13. Can you tell me what times the clips are in the film? Great site by the way!

  14. Sorry, I don't know the exact times. I selected the scene and prepared it, but did not care about the counter. Sorry.

  15. This is a fantastic resource!! Thank you sooooo much from NZ!!!

  16. a great resource. Judy from South Africa