Passage based Questions on English Language SMENQ029

Passage based Questions on English Language SMENQ029

Passage 1

The year 2007 will go down in history as the year when a phase shift occurred in global public awareness of the climate change crisis. It will also go down as the year when the people of the world and their future generations were shortchanged by a clique of business interests that manipulate the policies of a few powerful rich countries. The recently concluded U.N. conference at Bali was held in the backdrop of a three-part consensus report produced by more than 2,500 scientists under the auspices of the U.N. sponsored body, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that catalogued the current and likely impact of the unmitigated release into the atmosphere of greenhouse gases, mainly due to the burning of coal and oil. It further re-asserted the widely held view that exceeding a heating up of the planet by more than 2° C from pre-industrial levels (of which we have already committed to more than 1-2° C through past emissions) would be too disastrous to contemplate for life on earth. The Bali conference was held in the backdrop of the latest scientific assessments which showed the IPCC estimates to be very conservative, that the current rate of world emissions was three times that of the 1990’s exceeding the IPCC's worst-case scenario, and that the Arctic ice was "screaming", disappearing a lot faster than predicted. It was held in the backdrop of the understanding that this galloping pace of anticipated warming implied that species losses would accelerate, the Amazon rainforest could disappear sooner, natural disasters would intensify faster, vector diseases would spread even more, the water crisis would worsen, food production would decline more rapidly, the sea level would rise much higher and there would be millions of deaths and cases of displacement of people as a result of all these catastrophes. There was the further backdrop that real scientific consensus on what was required to keep the warming to about 2° C was becoming more and more visible through the fog of deliberate propaganda, hoping against hope, disbelief, avoidance of scaremongering tag and frank fudging to accommodate "political reality". It was becoming clearer and clearer that it was not 550 parts per million (ppm), nor even 450 ppm, but 400 ppm of carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere that should be the cap to keep the risk of exceeding 2° C warming within reasonable limits. Against this target, the current concentration is 383 ppm, growing at 19 ppm a decade at present, a 25 per cent climb from the rate of increase of the last decade. There was also the assessment that we were very close to a "tipping point", beyond which we would lose control over a self-generating, feedback-induced warming, as with polar ice melt shrinking the reflective white surface, which induces even further heating up, or the warming oceans progressively losing their capacity to absorb carbon dioxide. There were also some views that we might have already triggered certain positive feedback cycles. What all this meant for Bali was that there was absolutely no time to lose. We were standing at the brink of disaster and needed to take action on a war footing to curb the use of coal, petroleum and gas if humanity itself was to survive for some centuries, forget other species. The message was getting dinned into the policymakers of the world, and the Nobel Committee played a small role in flagging the issue through its Peace Prize award this year to the IPCC and Al Gore, the latter taking to climate campaigning after a narrow loss of the U.S. Presidency to George W. Bush. For the delegates of all world governments at Bali, there was no lack of information from scientists on what was happening to the world at large as a result of man-made greenhouse gas accumulation in the atmosphere, on where we were heading if we went on with business as usual, on what its impacts were, and on what needed to be done to avoid crossing the threshold. They also had no lack of information on the various technologies available to produce electricity and to move from place to place without burning carbon. There were also many reports available on what tools of economics would work in what manner to turn people away from a carbon-rich lifestyle. In fact, a number of civil society organizations had established paradigms and models of energy-saving lifestyle changes that individuals could be influenced to adopt with adequate awareness generation. For more than 10 days the delegates grappled with the issue and right from the beginning it was clear that this was going to be another Kyoto-type wrangle, with a little more pressure to come to terms, maybe, but basically establishing the ground reality that the political will to tackle the problem was weak and urgency for action was not yet felt by the policymakers. It was a Kyoto replica in another sense - the U.S. government played spoilsport, blocking specific action as much as possible and dampening any sense of urgency, the same role it played 10 years back at Kyoto in Japan to destroy the consensus built among all other countries and to reduce forcibly the emission reduction target and inject the carbon trading mechanism into the deal, converting it to Kyoto-lite, as some environmentalists called it. This shameful role became even more dishonorable as the U.S. government subsequently refused to ratify the Protocol that it deliberately and systematically weakened, its delegation head Al Gore, then Vice-President of his country, having come armed with a unanimous resolution of the U.S. Senate to disregard "any international agreement that does not set emission targets for developing countries". There was a further replica of Kyoto at Bali. The European Union, long regarded as the most environment-friendly group at these conferences, applauded and hailed the U.S. for coming on board at the last minute at Kyoto - and did the same at Bali. No matter that the U.S. succeeded in decimating the consensus reached in both places. In the intervening period it did hardly anything to pressure the U.S. to come on board Kyoto. One can anticipate that the U.S. will play its expected role and so will the E.U. in the coming two years, the time specified at Bali for the post-Kyoto agreement. There could have been an alternative scenario at Bali. The U.S. could have changed track on its Kyoto policy as it has done on its Iraq policy, said it was listening to its people, 68 per cent of whom said in a recent Yale University and Gallup sample survey that they were for their government signing an international agreement to cut emissions by 90 per cent by 2050. If it refused to listen to its people who, in an earlier survey, considered global warming to be as much a threat as terrorism, the E.U. and other rich countries could have said that this was the time for emergency action to save the planet, there was no time for niceties. They could have sidelined the U.S. at Bali, could have concluded a much stronger and more just agreement with the developing nations and could have threatened the U.S. with sanctions unless it, too, fell in line with the rest of the world. The Social Democrats in Germany have now suggested this as a future course of action. But none of this happened at Bali. It was really business as usual - a term abhorred by climate activists campaigning to cut down drastically global emissions, of greenhouse gases. The IPCC's "business as usual" scenario is a straight path to doom. But then business-as-usual is what business wants, the powerful business class behind the oil, coal, electricity and automobile industries the world over. The business class that pulls the strings in the Bush administration and exercises influence all over Europe and over all countries of the world. The business class that contributed lavishly to get the Bush team elected to the White House, that openly claimed credit for the publicity blitz that shaped U.S. policy at Kyoto "What we are doing, and we think successfully, is buying time for our industries by holding up these talks."

"No matter that the US succeeded in decimating the consensus reached in both places." Which are the places referred to?

Kyoto and Bali

Kyoto and Yale

Yale and Bali

None of these

What should be the cap of carbon dioxide concentration to keep warming within reasonable limits?

450 ppm

550 ppm

400 ppm

383 ppm

Which organization has catalogued the impact of release of greenhouse gases?


Yale University



Which one of the following statements is not correct according to the passage?

At Bali, US government blocked specific action weakening any sense of urgency.

Business class behind industries like coal, electricity, oil, etc. exert influence over all countries of the world.

The Nobel Committee played a big role in highlighting the climate change issues through its Peace Prize award.

US people were for the government signing an international agreement to cut emission.

The impact of global warming implies that

water crisis would worsen

Natural disasters would intensify.

Food production would decline.

All of these

According to the passage, if the human race, leave aside other species, has to survive at least for a few more centuries -

Use of coal is to be reduced.

Use of petroleum and gas is to be checked.

Renewable energy sources are to be tapped.

Both A and B