Reading 4: Environmental Problems

Multiple-Choice Exercise

Read the text below. For questions 1-10, choose the answer (A, B, C or D) which you think fits best according to the text.


The world's scientists have given their harsh warning yet that failure to cut greenhouse gas emissions will bring devastating climate change within a few decades. As droughts affect more areas for more prolonged periods, it is estimated that global food production will fall by 10%. Conversely, we are experiencing more powerful hurricanes which result in both human tragedy and costly damage to infrastructure. There are dire predictions of 80 million people being exposed to malaria and 2,5 billion to dengue fever.

The 2007 report the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)* concludes that average temperatures could increase by as much as 6,4°C by the end of the century if emissions continue to rise at the present rate. However, they do concede that a rise of 4°C is more likely. The forecast is still higher than previous estimates because scientists have discovered that the Earth is less able to absorb carbon dioxide than previously believed.

What would a 4°C increase in temperature mean? According to the IPCC, it would wipe out hundreds of species, bring extreme food and water shortages in vulnerable countries and hundreds of millions of people would be displaced as a result of catastrophic flooding. As warming is likely to be more severe towards the poles, the melting of the Greenland and west Antarctic ice sheets would accelerate.

Dr. Wainwright explained that the 2007 report painted a gloomier picture than the 2001 report because scientists have discovered "feedbacks" in the global carbon cycle that seem to be adding to the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and producing a cumulative effect. She goes on to suggest that this could mean at least another 1°C should be added to present estimates. Moreover, Dr. Wainwright concludes that there is little room for doubt that human activity is to blame for the global warming.

However, Mark Gibson of Environment Watch goes to great lengths to point out that such an outcome is not inevitable. If there were a significant switch to clean and resource efficient technologies, we should cut expected temperature rises by half. He stresses that what is needed is international political commitment to take action - something which has been absent so far.

(Extract from ."What's the Weather? "in New Scientist 16.09.2000, www. Newscientist. com)