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Learning English - Words in the News
18 June, 2004 - Published 13:27 GMT
Shell oil fears
Oil installation

The new Chairman of the Shell oil company, Lord Oxburgh, has said he is worried for the future of the world if mankind continues to produce the present amount of carbon dioxide. This report from Elizabeth Blunt:

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Lord Oxburgh is a geologist; at the end of a long and distinguished career in science, he has now found himself in the Shell chairman's seat. In an interview in the British Guardian newspaper he spoke of his worries about climate change. "No one could be comfortable", he said, "at the prospect of continuing to pump out the large amounts of carbon dioxide that we are at present ... with consequences that we can't really predict, but are probably not good." At first sight this looks as if Shell is trying to talk itself out of business, but Shell is already a regular participant in international discussions on climate change, and it’s diversifying into wind and solar power. These days it presents itself as an Energy company rather than just an Oil company. This is in contrast to its American rival, Exxon/Mobil, which maintains that scientific evidence on climate change remains inconclusive, and which continues to concentrate on oil and gas production.

Shell is also involved in research into ways of getting rid of excess carbon dioxide, without releasing it into the atmosphere -- a process known as sequestration. It could be pumped into suitable rock formations or trapped in the deep layers of the ocean. As a geologist, Lord Oxburgh is understandably enthusiastic about its potential. He told the Guardian, "Sequestration is difficult, but if we don't have sequestration, I see very little hope for the world."

Elizabeth Blunt, BBC News

Listen to the words

someone who studies the Earth’s structure and origins

successful, high-profile

pump out
produce, release into the atmosphere

At first sight
when you think about something for the first time without analysing carefully

talk itself out of business
say things that could have a bad effect on its success as a business

increasing the variety of things it produces

it presents itself as
it sells itself as, it markets itself as

here: one of the companies that it competes against

without any clear results or proof

its potential
how successful it could be in the future

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