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Academic Reading

1 Reading Passage 1 You should spend about 20 on Questions 1-15 which are based on Reading Passage 1 below.



Water is the giver and, at the same time, the taker of life. It covers most of the  surface of the planet we live on and features large in the development of the  human race. On present predictions, it is an element that is set to assume even  greater significance. 


Throughout history, water has had a huge impact on our lives. Humankind has always had a rather ambiguous relationship with water, on the one hand
receiving enormous benefit from it, not just as a drinking source, but as a  provider of food and a means whereby to travel and to trade. But forced to live close to water in order to survive and to develop, the relationship has not  always been peaceful or beneficial. In fact, it has been quite the contrary.  What has essentially been a necessity for survival has turned out in many  instances to have a very destructive and life-threatening side. 


Through the ages, great floods alternated with long periods of drought have  assaulted people and their environment, hampering their fragile fight for  survival. The dramatic changes to the environment that are now a feature of  our daily news are not exactly new: fields that were once lush and fertile are  now barren; lakes and rivers that were one teeming with life are now long  gone; savannah has been turned to desert. What perhaps is new is our naive  wonder when faced with the forces of nature. 


Today, we are more aware of climatic changes around the world. Floods in  far-flung places are instant news for the whole world. Perhaps these events  make us feel better as we face the destruction of our own property by floods and other natural disasters. 


In 2002, many parts of Europe suffered severe flood damage running into billions of euros. Properties across the continent collapsed into the sea as waves pounded the coastline wreaking havoc with sea defences. But it was not just the seas. Rivers swollen by heavy rains and by the effects of deforestation carried large volumes of water that wrecked many communities.


Building stronger and more sophisticated river defences against flooding is  the expensive short-term answer. There a re simpler ways. Planting trees in  highland areas, not just in Europe but in places like the Himalayas, to  protect people living in low-lying regions like the Ganges Delta, is a cheaper  and more attractive solution. Progress is already being made in convincing  countries that the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is  causing considerable damage to the environment. But more effort is needed in this direction.


And the future? If we are to believe the forecasts, it is predicted that two- thirds of the world population will be without fresh water by 2025. But for a  growing number of regions of the world the future is already with us. While some areas are devastated by flooding, scarcity of water in many other places  is causing conflict. The state of Texas in the United States of America is  suffering a shortage of water with the Rio Grande failing to reach the Gulf of  Mexico for the first time in 50 years in the spring of 2002, pitting region  against region as they vie for water sources. With many parts f the globe
running dry through drought and increased water consumption, there is  now talk of water being the new oil. 


Other doom-laden estimates suggest that, while tropical areas will become  drier and uninhabitable, coastal regions and some low-lying islands will in  all probability be submerged by the seas as the polar ice caps melt. Popular exotic destinations now visited by countless tourist will become no-go  areas. Today's holiday hotspots of southern Europe and elsewhere wil  literally become hotspots - too hot to live in or visit. With the current erratic  behaviour of the weather, it is difficult not to subscribe to such despair. 


Some might say that this despondency is ill-founded, but we have had  ample proof that there is something not quite right with the climate. Many  parts of the world have experienced devastating flooding. As the seasons  revolve, the focus of the destruction moves from one continent to another.  The impact on the environment is alarming and the cost to life depressing. it  is a picture to which we will need to become accustomed. 

Question 1-8

Reading Passage 1 has nine paragraphs labelled A-I.
Choose the most suitable headings for paragraphs B-I from the list of headings below. 
Write the appropriate numbers (i-xiii) in boxes 1-8 on your answer sheet. 
One of the heading has been done for you as an example. 

Note: There are more headings than paragraphs, so you will not use all of them

List of Headings

  1. i       Environmental change has always been with us
  2. ii       The scarcity of water
  3. iii       Rivers and seas cause damage
  4. iv       Should we be despondent? Or realistic?
  5. v        Disasters caused by the climate make us feel better
  6. vi        Water, the provider of food
  7. vii        What is water?
  8. viii        How to solve flooding
  9. ix          Far-flung flooding
  10. x           Humans' relationship with water
  11. xi          The destructive force with water
  12. xii          Flooding in the future
  13. xiii         A pessimistic view of the future

Example: Paragraph A - Answer vii

1    Paragraph B

2    Paragraph C

3    Paragraph D

4    Paragraph E

5    Paragraph F

6    Paragraph G

7    Paragraph H   

8    Paragraph I


Question 9-15


Choose the appropriate letter A-D and write them in boxes 9-15 on your answer sheet. 

9)    The writer believes that water

a) is gradually becoming of greater importance. 
b) will have little impact on our lives in future
c) is something we will need more than anything else. 
d) will have even greater importance in our lives in the future

10) Humankind's relationship with water has been 

a) two-sided
b) one-sided
c) purely one of great benefit.
d) fairly frightening

11) The writer suggests that 

a) we ware in awe of the news we read and see on TV every day. 
b) change to the environment leaves us speechless.
c) we should not be in awe of the news we read and see on TV every day. 
d) our surprise at the environmental change brought about by nature is something new. 

12) According to the text, plating trees

a) has to be co-ordinated internationally. 
b) is more expensive than building sea and river defences.
c) is a less expensive answer to flooding than building river defences. 
d) is not an answer to the problem of flooding in all regions. 

13) By 2025, it is projected that 

a) at least half the world population will have fresh water. 
b) the majority of the worlds population will have fresh water . 
c) one-third of the world population will have fresh water. 
d) fresh water will only be available to half of the world population. 

14) According to the text, in the future low-lying islands

a) will still be habitable
b) will not be under water. 
c) are likely to be under water.
d) will probably not be under water. 

15) According to the writer, 

a) people do not need to get used to environmental damage. 
b) people will need to get used to climate changes that cause environmental damage. 
c) people are now more used to environmental damage than they have been in the past.
d) the general despondency about environmental changes is ill-founded.

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