• What Have We Done? Present Perfect and Climate Change

    You have probably heard about Before the Flood, a documentary starring Leonardo DiCaprio, UN Messenger of Peace (and Titanic’s handsome king of the world).  If you haven’t watched it yet, I highly recommend streaming the film for free here on youtube.

    I don’t know about you, but I left the film feeling a bit depressed about how much humans have already destroyed the planet.  A friend asked me if there’s at least a hopeful message at the end, and my answer was yes and no.  The hopeful part was that many countries finally got together and signed the Paris Climate Agreement.  This means that these countries must lower their carbon emissions.  The depressing part?  Many people say it’s not enough, and temperatures could still rise above the goal and create catastrophic damages.  Here’s a helpful article if you’re interested in learning more about the agreement.

    So, let’s put our own positive spin on this horrifying situation, and use it to practice the present perfect tense!


    have/has + past participle


    • An action that began in the past but still continues.
    • An action that happened in the indefinite past (no particular date) and is important to the current situation
    • An action that happened in the past but the time is not mentioned.

    Listening practice: 

    Now, listen to Leo’s speech, and fill in the blanks with the present perfect tense.  Write your answers in the comments section below.

    1. As a UN Messenger of Peace, I ____ ________ all over the world for the last two years documenting how this crisis is changing the natural balance of our planet
    2. I ____ ____ cities like Beijing choked by industrial pollution.
    3. Ancient Boreal forests in Canada that ____ ____ clear cut and rainforests in Indonesia that ____ ____ incinerated.
    4. In India, I met farmers whose crops ____ ____ literally ______ away by historic flooding.
    5. In America, I ____ _________ unprecedented droughts in California and sea level rise flooding the streets of Miami.
    6. All that I ____ ____ and _______ on my journey ___ absolutely _________ me.
    7. It ___ ______ a runaway freight train bringing with it an impending disaster for all living things.

    Writing practice: 

    We always love to hear your thoughts and opinions about these topics!  Answer the following questions using present perfect tense in the comments section below.

    1. Have you seen this film?  What did you think of it?
    2. What have you done to help the climate?
    3. What have you done to hurt the climate?
    4. Have you seen evidence of climate change in your hometown?

    Sign up for a class today to discuss current events like this one with a native speaker!