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Miracle of Zero-Emissions Cement – Topical Tuesdays Activities from First News

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The world uses four billion tonnes of cement every year, and making it takes a lot of energy. The manufacturing process also gives off CO2. However, scientists at the University of Cambridge have discovered that cement can be recycled in the electric furnaces that are used to recycle steel. If electric furnaces were powered by renewable energy, this process could eventually lead to zero-emissions cement.


The discovery of a new way of making environmentally responsible cement certainly looks like an important breakthrough. But are we relying too heavily on new discoveries to reverse climate damage? Do we just expect that scientists will simply solve all our issues so we don’t have to worry? Shouldn’t we be placing more emphasis on reducing the amount of stuff we use? Or is it unreasonable to think that we will ever cut our consumption of energy and materials? Doesn’t humankind have an amazing record of creating helpful new ideas? Isn’t it better to think your way out of a problem? What do you think?

Writing skills

Write a letter to a future generation about the state of the planet. You can either apologise for the harm humans have inflicted on the environment or explain what we have done to leave the world in a better state than previous generations. Either way, remember to sequence your ideas logically and include all the features of an informal letter.


Write a short, cautionary tale about someone who wanted to build a house of bricks without using mortar to bind them together. You can write in the first or third person but make sure it outlines the builder’s reason for this choice and why it went wrong.


Research the meanings of the words ‘cement’, ‘mortar’ and ‘concrete’ and write a definition for each that explains the difference between them.

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