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The Truth About The Environment Reading Answers- IELTS Sample

Updated on 22 December, 2022
Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

The Reading Section is one of the most important aspects of IELTS exam preparation. One must practice as many IELTS sample papers as possible to achieve the desired band scores on the IELTS exam. To help you prepare, here is a reading passage on the topic 'The Truth About The Environment,' along with questions and answers.

The Truth About The Environment 

For many environmentalists, the world seems to be getting worse. They have developed a hit-list of our main fears: that natural resources are running out; that the population is ever growing, leaving less and less to eat; that species are becoming extinct in vast numbers, and that the planet’s air and water are becoming ever more polluted.

But a quick look at the facts shows a different picture. First, energy and other natural resources have become more abundant, not less so, since the book The Limits to Growth’ was published in 1972 by a group of scientists. Second, more food is now produced per head of the world’s population than at any time in history. Fewer people are starving. Third, although species are indeed becoming extinct, only about 0.7% of them are expected to disappear in the next 50 years, not 25-50%, as has so often been predicted. And finally, most forms of environmental pollution either appear to have been exaggerated, or are transient – associated with the early phases of industrialisation and therefore best cured not by restricting economic growth, but by accelerating it. One form of pollution – the release of greenhouse gases that causes global warming – does appear to be a phenomenon that is going to extend well into our future, but its total impact is unlikely to pose a devastating problem. A bigger problem may well turn out to be an inappropriate response to it.

Yet opinion polls suggest that many people nurture the belief that environmental standards are declining and four factors seem to cause this disjunction between perception and reality.

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One is the lopsidedness built into scientific research. Scientific funding goes mainly to areas with many problems. That may be wise policy, but it will also create an impression that many more potential problems exist than is the case.

Secondly, environmental groups need to be noticed by the mass media. They also need to keep the money rolling in. Understandably, perhaps, they sometimes overstate their arguments. In 1997, for example, the World Wide Fund for Nature issued a press release entitled: ‘Two thirds of the world’s forests lost forever’. The truth turns out to be nearer 20%.

Though these groups are run overwhelmingly by selfless folk, they nevertheless share many of the characteristics of other lobby groups. That would matter less if people applied the same degree of skepticism to environmental lobbying as they do to lobby groups in other fields. A trade organization arguing for, say, weaker pollution controls is instantly seen as self-interested. Yet a green organization opposing such a weakening is seen as altruistic, even if an impartial view of the controls in question might suggest they are doing more harm than good.

A third source of confusion is the attitude of the media. People are clearly more curious about bad news than good. Newspapers and broadcasters are there to provide what the public wants. That, however, can lead to significant distortions of perception. An example was America’s encounter with El Niño in 1997 and 1998. 

This climatic phenomenon was accused of wrecking tourism, causing allergies, melting the ski-slopes and causing 22 deaths. However, according to an article in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, the damage it did was estimated at US$4 billion but the benefits amounted to some US$19 billion. These came from higher winter temperatures (which saved an estimated 850 lives, reduced heating costs and diminished spring floods caused by meltwaters).

The fourth factor is poor individual perception. People worry that the endless rise in the amount of stuff everyone throws away will cause the world to run out of places to dispose of waste. Yet, even if America’s trash output continues to rise as it has done in the past, and even if the American population doubles by 2100, all the rubbish America produces through the entire 21st century will still take up only one-12,000th of the area of the entire United States.

So what of global warming? As we know, carbon dioxide emissions are causing the planet to warm. The best estimates are that the temperatures will rise by 2-3°C in this century, causing considerable problems, at a total cost of US$5,000 billion.

Despite the intuition that something drastic needs to be done about such a costly problem, economic analyses clearly show it will be far more expensive to cut carbon dioxide emissions radically than to pay the costs of adaptation to the increased temperatures. A model by one of the main authors of the United Nations Climate Change Panel shows how an expected temperature increase of 2.1 degrees in 2100 would only be diminished to an increase of 1.9 degrees. Or to put it another way, the temperature increase that the planet would have experienced in 2094 would be postponed to 2100. So this does not prevent global warming, but merely buys the world six years. Yet the cost of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, for the United States alone, will be higher than the cost of solving the world’s single, most pressing health problem: providing universal access to clean drinking water and sanitation. Such measures would avoid 2 million deaths every year, and prevent half a billion people from becoming seriously ill. It is crucial that we look at the facts if we want to make the best possible decisions for the future. It may be costly to be overly optimistic – but more costly still to be too pessimistic.

Questions 1-6

Do the following statements agree with the claims of the writer in Reading Passage?

In boxes 1-6 on your answer sheet, write

YES if the statement agrees with the writer's claims

NO if the statement contradicts the writer's claims

NOT GIVEN if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

Guidelines/Tip for Answering These Types of Questions: Candidates have to identify the statements that agree with the passage by tallying them with the information provided in the passage. To answer these questions, read the passage carefully before marking it as YES or NO.

  1.   Environmentalists take a pessimistic view of the world for a number of reasons.
  2.   Data on the Earth’s natural resources has only been collected since 1972.
  3.   The number of starving people in the world has increased in recent years.
  4.   Extinct species are being replaced by new species.
  5.  Some pollution problems have been correctly linked to industrialization.
  6.   It would be best to attempt to slow down economic growth.

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Questions 7-11

Choose the correct letter. A, B. C or D.

Write your answers in boxes 7-11 on your answer sheet.

Guidelines/Tip for Answering These Types of Questions: Candidates have to choose the right answer from the list of options provided. To answer these questions, read the passage carefully before making a choice.

7.   What aspect of scientific research does the writer express concern about in paragraph 4?

  1. the need to produce results
  2. the lack of financial support
  3. the selection of areas to research
  4. the desire to solve every research problem

8.  The writer quotes from the Worldwide Fund for Nature to illustrate how

  1. influential the mass media can be.
  2. effective environmental groups can be.
  3. the mass media can help groups raise funds.
  4. environmental groups can exaggerate their claims.

9.   What is the writer’s main point about lobby groups in paragraph 6?

  1. Some are more active than others.
  2. Some are better organized than others.
  3. Some receive more criticism than others.
  4. Some support more important issues than others.

10. The writer suggests that newspapers print items that are intended to

  1. educate readers.
  2. meet their readers’ expectations.
  3. encourage feedback from readers.
  4. mislead readers.

11. What does the writer say about America’s waste problem?

  1. It will increase in time with population growth.
  2. It is not as important as we have been led to believe.
  3. It has been reduced through public awareness of the issues.
  4. It is only significant in certain areas of the country.

Questions 12-13

Complete the summary with the list of words A-I below.

Write the correct letter A-I in boxes 12-13 on your answer sheet.

Guidelines/Tip for Answering These Types of Questions: Candidates have to choose the right answers from the list provided. To answer these questions, read the passage carefully before making a choice.

GLOBAL WARMING

The writer admits that global warming is a 12………. challenge, but says that it will not have a catastrophic impact on our future, if we deal with it in the 13…….. way.

 If we try to reduce the levels of greenhouse gases, he believes that it would only have a minimal impact on rising temperatures. He feels it would be better to spend money on the more 14   health problem of providing the world’s population with clean drinking water.

  1.  unrealistic
  2.  agreed
  3.  expensive
  4.  right
  5.  long-term
  6.  usual
  7.  surprising
  8.  personal
  9.  urgent

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Solution 1-6

QuestionAnswerExplanation
1YES Many environmentalists believe that things are getting worse (pessimistic outlook). Their list of concerns consists of numerous reasons why we should be concerned.  
2NOT GIVEN 
3NOSince there are fewer people who are starving now than ever before because more food is produced per person. 
4NOT GIVENNothing is mentioned as such in the paragraph rather it is mentioned that more and more species are getting extinct.
5YESThe majority of environmental pollution (some pollution problems) are associated with the early stages of industrialization and can therefore best be cured by accelerating economic growth rather than restricting it
6NO  Environmental pollution is typically associated with early industrialization, which can therefore be prevented by accelerating economic growth rather than inhibiting it.

Solution 7-11

QuestionAnswerExplanation
7CFunding for scientific research primarily goes to areas with many problems (those areas that researchers believe are more problematic)
8DThe press is key to keeping the money rolling in for environmental groups. Consequently, their arguments are often exaggerated. 
9CAlthough some lobby groups deal with the same issues, some are criticized while others are praised. 
10BA newspaper and a broadcaster exist to provide what the public wants. The purpose of a newspaper is to meet the needs of its audience.
11BAs newspapers and broadcasters provide what people want, they can distort perceptions significantly. 
QuestionAnswerExplanation
12EThe second paragraph mentions that global warming is a problem that will extend well into the future.
13DIn the tenth paragraph the author clearly states that a more practical way to approach the problem of global warming is by adapting to increased temperatures rather than radically cutting carbon dioxide emissions.
14IThe eleventh paragraph talks about how reducing carbon dioxide emissions (which cause global warming) would be more expensive than addressing a pressing, more immediate concern–that of universal access to clean drinking water and sanitation.

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