BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 412

BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 412


IELTS Academic Reading Test



Are these two reporters on the same planet?

An essay by scientist, educator and environmentalist, Dr. David Suzuki

A number of books, articles and television programs have disputed the reality of the claimed hazards of global warming, overpopulation, deforestation and ozone depletion. Two newspaper commentaries show the profound differences of opinion on critical issues affecting the planet.

The first, by Robert Kaplan, has generated both fear and denial. Entitled The Coming Anarchy, the report paints a horrifying picture of the future for humanity. The author suggests that the terrible consequences of the conjunction between exploding human population and surrounding environmental degradation are already visible in Africa and parts of Southeast Asia. As society is destabilised by the AIDS epidemic, government control evaporates, national borders crumble beneath the pressure of environmental refugees and local populations revert to tribalism to settle old scores or defend against fleeing masses and bands of stateless nomads on the move.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Kaplan believes what he has seen in Africa and Southeast Asia is the beginning of a global pattern of disintegration of social, political and economic infrastructure under the impact of ecological degradation, population pressure and disease. As ecosystems collapse, this scenario could sweep the planet, first in Eastern Europe and then the industrialised countries. It is a frightening scenario, built on a serious attempt to project the aftermath of ecological destruction. It comes from a core recognition that the planet is finite and consumption has vast social, political and economic ramifications. It has also generated a great deal of discussion and controversy.

Marcus Gee pronounces Kaplan’s vision ‘dead wrong’ in a major article headlined Apocalypse Deferred. Attacking the ‘doomsayers’, Gee counters with the statistics favoured by believers in the limitless benefits and potential of economic growth. Citing the spectacular improvements in human health, levels of education and literacy, availability of food and length of life even in the developing world, Gee pronounces the fivefold increase in the world economy since 1950 as the cause of this good news. He does concede that immense problems remain, from ethnic nationalism to tropical deforestation to malnutrition to cropland losses but concludes that Kaplan has exaggerated many of the crises and thus missed the broad pattern of progress.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Focusing on statistics of the decline in child mortality and the rise in longevity, food production and adult literacy, Gee reaches the conclusion that things have never been better. Economic indicators, such as the rise in gross world product and total exports show ‘remarkable sustained and dramatic progress’. Life for the majority of the world’s citizens is getting steadily better in almost every category.’

Gee’s conclusions rest heavily on economic indicators. He points out the annual 3.9 percent rise in the global economy and the more than doubling of the gross output per person, that has occurred for the past thirty years. World trade has done even better, growing by 6 percent of a product’s price in 1947 to 5 percent today.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Gee skips lightly over such facts as third world debt and the daily toll of 22,000 child deaths from easily preventable disease. He also fails to mention that during this period the gulf between rich and poor countries has increased. He does acknowledge the threats of loss of topsoil and forests, pollution of the air and contamination of water. However, he concludes that there is little evidence they are serious enough to hall or even reverse human progress. Gee challenges the notion of a population crisis since there have never been as many people so well off. Furthermore, he suggests there will never be a limit to population because more people means more Einsteins to keep making life better.

Gee’s outlook rests on a tiny minority of scientists who have faith in the boundless potential of science and technology to overcome the physical constraints of air, water and soil so that a much larger population can be sustained. His final proof? -the general rise in living standards along with population growth. But the relationship between changes in living standards and population is a correlation, not proof of causal connection. Gee is ignoring basic economic as well as scientific reality.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

If we inherit a hank account with a thousand dollars that earns 5% interest annually, we could withdraw fifty dollars or less each year forever However, suppose we start to increase our withdrawals, say up to sixty dollars, then seventy dollars and more each year. For many years the account would yield cash. But it would be foolish to conclude that we could keep drawing more from the account indefinitely.

Yet that is what Gee believes. As ocean fisheries around the world show, we are using up the ecological capital of the planet (biodiversity, air. water, soil) rather than living off the interest. It is a dangerous deception to believe that the humancreated artifice called economies can keep the indicators rising as the life support systems of the planet continue to decline.

The value system that dominates most of the popular media promotes the delusion that resources and the economy can continue to expand indefinitely. It also blinds the public to the urgency and credibility of warnings that an environmental crisis confronts us.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Questions 28-33

Use the information in the passage to match the people (A-C) with the opinions (28- 33) listed below. There may be more than one correct answer.

28. Our patterns of consumption are using up the ecological capital of the planet.

29. Crises beginning in the Third World will spread to developed countries.

30. Scientific progress will enable the planet to sustain increased population.

31. Social and political infrastructure worldwide could collapse.

32. Earth’s life support systems are at critical risk.

33. Environmental problems are not a threat to progress

IELTS Academic Reading Test

A. R. Kaplan, author of The Coming Anarchy

B. M. Gee, author of Apocalypse Deferred

C. D. Suzuki, author of this passage

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Questions 34-36

Choose ONE phrase from the list below (A-G) to complete each of the following sentences. There are more phrases than questions so you will not use all of them.

34. The growth of world trade

35. The relationship between population and standard of living

36. Natural resources and the economy

List of Phrases

A. have most benefited developing countries

B. has led to a drop in the standard of living generally

C. cannot continue to expand indefinitely

D. have decreased third world debt

E. shows a correlation, not cause and effect

F. pose a threat to human progress

G. has been accompanied by a fall in tariffs

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Questions 37-40

Choose the correct letter A-D.

37. Which of the following is NOT stated by Kaplan as a key contributing factor to potential global destabilisation?

A. political corruption

B. collapse of ecosystems

C. population explosion

D. malnutrition and disease

38. What is the main source of Gee’s optimism?

A. scientific and technological advances

B. decreasing Third World debt

C. the rise in the standard of living worldwide

D. economic growth

IELTS Academic Reading Test

39. Which of the following can we infer about the views of the author of this passage?

A. He disagrees with both Gee and Kaplan.

B. He supports the views of Gee.

C. His views are closer to those of Kaplan.

D. He thinks both Gee and Kaplan are right.

40. The main purpose of the author in this passage is…

A. to alert us to an environmental crisis.

B. to educate the media.

C. to create uncertainty about the future.

D. to challenge current economic theory.

IELTS Academic Reading Test


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BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 412

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IELTS Academic Reading Test


28. C

29. A

30. B

31. A

32. C/A

33. B

34. G

35. E

36. C

37. A

38. D

39. C

40. A

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