IELTS Reading Test in 2017

You should spend about 20 minutes on Question 1-13, which are based on Reading Passage 1.

Bamboo, A Wonder Plant 2

A. Bamboo is used for a wide range of purposes, but now it seems it may be under threat. Every year, during the rainy season, the mountain gorillas of central Africa migrate to the lower slopes of the Virunga Mountains to graze on bamboo. For the 650 or so that remain in the wild, it’s a vital food source. Without it, says Ian Redmond, chairman of the Ape Alliance, their chances of survival would be reduced significantly. Gorillas aren’t the only local keen on bamboo. For the people who live close to the Virungas, it’s a valuable and versatile raw material. But in the past 100 years or so, resources have come under increasing pressure as populations have exploded and large areas of bamboo forest have been cleared to make way for commercial plantations. Sadly, this isn’t an isolated story. All over the world, the ranges of many bamboo species appear to be shrinking, endangering the people and animals that depend upon them.

B. Despite bamboo’s importance, we know surprisingly little about it. A recent report published by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) has revealed just how profound our ignorance of global bamboo resources is, particularly in relation to conservation. There are almost 1,600 recognised species of bamboo, but the report concentrated on the 1,200 or so woody varieties distinguished by the strong stems, or ‘culms’, that most people associate with this versatile plant. Of these, only 38 ‘priority species’ identified for their commercial value have been the subject of any real scientific research to date. This problem isn’t confined to bamboo. Compared to the work carried out on animals, the science of assessing the conservation status of plants is still in its infancy. ‘People have only started looking at this during the past 10-15 years, and only now are they understanding how to go about it systematically,’ says Dr Valerie Kapos, one of the report’s authors.

C. Bamboo tends to grow in ‘stands (or groups) made up of individual plants that grow from roots known as rhizomes. It is the world’s fastest-growing woody plant and some species grow over a meter in one day. But the plant’s ecological role extends beyond providing food for wildlife. Its rhizome systems, which lie in the top layers of the soil, are crucial in preventing soil erosion. And there is growing evidence that bamboo plays an important part in determining forest structure and dynamics. Bamboo’s pattern of mass flowering and mass death leaves behind large areas of dry biomass that attract wildfire,’ says Kapos. ‘When these bum, they create patches of open ground far bigger than would be left by a fallen tree. Patchiness helps to preserve diversity because certain plant species do better during the early stages of regeneration when there are gaps in the canopy.’

D. However, bamboo’s most immediate significance lies in its economic value. Many countries, particularly in Asia, are involved in the trade of bamboo products. Modem processing techniques mean it can be used in a variety of ways, for example as flooring and laminates. Traditionally it is used in construction, but one of the fastest growing bamboo products is paper -25 per cent of paper produced in India is made from bamboo fibre.

Of course, bamboo’s main function has always been in domestic applications, and as a locally traded product it is worth about US$4.5 billion annually. Bamboo is often the only readily available raw material for people in many developing countries, says Chris Stapleton, a research associate at the UK’s Royal Botanic Gardens. ‘Bamboo can be harvested from forest areas or grown quickly elsewhere, and then converted simply without expensive machinery or facilities,’ he says. In this way, it contributes substantially to poverty alleviation.’

E. Keen horticulturists will spot an apparent contradiction in the worrying picture painted by the UNEP-INBAR report. Those in the West who’ve followed the recent vogue for cultivating exotic species in their gardens will point out that, if it isn’t kept in check, bamboo can cause real problems. ‘In a lot of places, the people who live with bamboo don’t perceive it as being under threat in any way,’ says Kapos. ‘In fact, a lot of bamboo species are very invasive if they’ve been introduced.’ So why are so many species endangered?

There are two separate issues here, says Ray Townsend, arboretum manager at the Royal Botanic Gardens. ‘Some plants are threatened because they can’t survive in the habitat-they aren’t strong enough or there aren’t enough of them, perhaps. But bamboo can take care of itself-it’s strong enough to survive if left alone. What is under threat is its habitat. When forest goes, ifs converted into something else: then there isn’t anywhere for forest plants such as bamboo to grow.’

F. Around the world, bamboo species are routinely protected as part of forest ecosystem in national parks and reserves, but there is next to nothing that protects bamboo in the wild for its own sake. The UNEP-INBAR report will help conservationists to establish effective measures aimed at protecting valuable wild bamboo species. Townsend, too, sees the UNEP-INBAR report as an important step forward in promoting the cause of bamboo conservation. ‘Until now, bamboo has been perceived as a second-class plant. When you talk about places like the Amazon, everyone always thinks about hardwoods. Of course, these are significant but there’s a tendency to overlook the plants they are associated with, which are often bamboo species.’

 

Questions 1-7

Reading Passage 1 has six sections, A-F.

Which section contains the following information?

Write the correct letter, A-F, in boxes 1-7 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

  1. an assessment of current levels of knowledge about bamboo
  2. a comparison between bamboo and more fragile plants
  3. details of the commercial significance of bamboo
  4. a human development that is threatening the availability of bamboo
  5. a description of the limited extent of existing research on bamboo
  6. examples of the uses to which bamboo is put
  7. an explanation of how bamboo may contribute to the survival of range of plants

Questions 8-11

Look at the following statements (Questions 8-11) and the list of people below.

Match each statement with the correct person, A-D.

Write the correct letter, A-D, in boxes 8-11 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

  1. Some people do not regard bamboo as an endangered plant species.
  2. A scarcity of bamboo places certain wildlife under threat.
  3. Research methods investigating endangered plants have yet to be fully developed.
  4. The greatest danger to bamboo is disturbance of the places it grows in.

List of People

  1. Ian Redmond
  2. Valerie Kapos
  3. Chris Stapleton
  4. Ray Townsend 

Questions 12 and 13

Answer the questions below.

Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer. Write your answers in boxes 12 and 13 on your answer sheet.

  1. What ecological problem do the roots of bamboo help to control?
  2. Which bamboo product is undergoing market expansion?

 

SECTION 2

You should spend about 20 minutes on Question 14-26, which are based on Reading Passage 2.

Renewable Energy

An insight into the progress in renewable energy research

The race is on for the ultimate goal of renewable energy: electricity production at prices that are competitive with coal-fired power stations, but without coal’s pollution. Some new technologies are aiming to be the first to push coal from its position as Australia’s chief source of electricity.

At the moment the front-runner in renewable energy is wind technology. According to Peter Bergin of Australian Hydro, one of Australia’s leading wind energy companies, there have been no dramatic changes in windmill design for many years, but the cumulative effects of numerous small improvements have had a major impact on cost. ‘We’re reaping the benefits of 30 years of research in Europe, without having to make the same mistakes that they did,’ Mr. Bergin says.

Electricity can be produced from coal at around 4 cents per kilowatt-hour, but only if the environmental costs are ignored. ‘Australia has the second cheapest electricity in the world, and this makes it difficult for renewable to compete,’ says Richard Hunter of the Australian Eco-generation Association (AEA). Nevertheless, the AEA reports: ‘The production cost of a kilowatt-hour of wind power is one fifth of what it was 20 years ago,’ or around 7 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Australian Hydro has dozens of wind monitoring stations across Australia as part of its aim to become Australia’s pre-eminent renewable energy company. Despite all these developments, wind power remains one of the few forms of alternative energy where Australia is nowhere near the global cutting edge, mostly just replicating European designs.

While wind may currently lead the way, some consider a number of technologies under development have more potential. In several cases, Australia is at the forefront of global research in the area. Some of them are very site-specific, ensuring that they may never become dominant market players. On the other hand, these newer developments are capable of providing more reliable power, avoiding the major criticism of windmills – the need for back-up on a calm day.

One such development uses hot, dry rocks. Deep beneath South Australia, radiation from elements contained in granite heats the rocks. Layers of insulating sedimentation raise the temperatures in some location to 250° centigrade. An Australian firm, Geoenergy, is proposing to pump water 3.5 kilometres into the earth, where it will travel through tiny fissures in the granite, heating up as it goes, until it escapes as steam through another drilled hole.

No greenhouse gases are produced, but the system needs some additional features if it is to be environmentally friendly. Dr Prue Chopra, a geophysicist at the Australian National University and one of the founders of Geoenergy, note that the steam will bring with it radon gas, along through a heat exchanger and then sent back underground for another cycle. Technically speaking, hot dry rocks are not a renewable source of energy. However, the Australian source is so large it could supply the entire country’s needs for thousands of years at current rates of consumption.

Two other proposals for very different ways to harness sun and wind energy have surfaced recently. Progress continues with Australian company EnviroPower’s plans for Australia’s first solar chimney near Mildura, in Victoria. Under this scheme, a tall tower will draw hot air from a greenhouse built to cover the surrounding 5 km2. As the air rises, it will drive a turbine* to produce electricity. The solar tower combines three very old technologies – the chimney, the turbine and the greenhouse – to produce something quite new. It is this reliance on proven engineering principles that led Enviropower’s CEO, Richard Davies, to state: There is no doubt this technology will work, none at all.’

This year, Enviropower recognized that the quality of sunlight in the Mildura district will require a substantially larger collecting area than was previously thought. However, spokesperson kay Firth says that a new location closer to Mildura will enable Enviropower to balance the increased costs with extra revenue. Besides saving in transmission costs, the new site ‘will mean increased revenue from tourism and use of power for telecommunications. We’ll also be able to use the outer 500 metres for agribusiness.’ Wind speeds closer to the tower will be too high for farming.

Another Australian company, Wavetech, is achieving success with ways of harvesting the energy in waves. Wavetech’s invention uses a curved surface to push waves into a chamber, where the flowing water column pushes air back and forth through a turbine. Wavetech was created when Dr. Tim Devine offered the idea to the world leader in wave generator manufacturers, who rather surprisingly rejected it. Dr. Devine responded by establishing Wavetech, and making a number of other improvements to generator design. Wavetech claims that, at appropriate sites, ‘the cost of electricity produced with our technology should be below 4 cents per kilowatt-hour.

The diversity of forms of greenhouse -friendly energy under development in Australia is remarkable. However, support on a national level is disappointing. According to Richard Hunter of the AEA, ‘Australia has huge potential for wind, sun and wave technology. We should really be at the forefront, but the reality is we are a long way behind.’

Question 14 – 20

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 2? In boxes 14-20 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE if the statement agrezes with the information

FALSE if the statement contradicts the information

NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this

  1. In Australia, alternative energies are less expensive than conventional electricity.
  2. Geoenergy needs to adapt its system to make it less harmful to the environment.
  3. Dr. Prue Chopra has studied the effects of radon gas on the environment.
  4. Hot, dry rocks could provide enough power for the whole of Australia.
  5. The new Enviropower facility will keep tourists away.
  6. Wavetech was established when its founders were turned down by another company.
  7. According to the AEA, Australia is a world leader in developing renewable energy.

Question 2126

Look at the following statements (Questions 21-26) and the list of companies below. Match each statement with the correct company, A-D.

Write the correct letter, A-D, in boxes 21-26 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

  1. During the process, harmful substances are prevented from escaping.
  2. Water is used to force air through a special device.
  3. Techniques used by other countries are being copied.
  4. The system can provide services other than energy production.
  5. It is planned to force water deep under the ground.
  6. Original estimates for part of the project have been revised.

List of Companies

  1. Australian Hydro
  2. Geoenergy
  3. Enviropower
  4. Wavetech

 

 

SECTION 3

Global Warming in New Zealand 2

New Zealand is expected to warm by about 3°C over the next century. The northern polar regions will be more than 6°C warmer, while the large continents – also the largest centres of population – will be 4°C or warmer. In contrast, the Southern Ocean, which surrounds New Zealand, may warm by only 2 0 C. The sea will act as an air conditioner and in this aspect New Zealand’s location is comparatively fortunate.

Any predictions are complicated by the variability of New Zealand’s climate. The anural temperature can fluctuate as much as loC above or below the long-term average. The early summer of 2006-7, for instance, was notably cool, thanks in part to the iceberg that drifted up the east coast. A few months later, warm water from the Tasman Sea helped make May 2007 unusually hot. These variables will continue unaffected so that, although the general pattern will be for rising temperatures, the warming trend may not be uniform.

The Ocean to the south of New Zealand will have one important effect. As the world warms, the great band of west winds that circle Antarctica will become stronger. This has already been observed, and its impact on New Zealand is likely to be profound, stronger, more frequent west winds will bring increased, sometimes catastrophic rainfall to the west coast of the country and create drier conditions in some eastern regions that are already drought-prone. At the same time, the general warming will spread south.

Furthermore, in the drier regions, the average moisture deficit – that is, the difference between the amount of water in soils available to plants and the amount plants need for optimum growth – will increase. Soils could go into moisture deficit earlier in the growing season and the deficits could last longer into autumn than at present. What we think of today as a medium-severity drought could be an almost annual occurrence by the end of the century. One direct consequence of warmer – and shorter – winters will be a reduction in snow cover. The permanent snow line in the mountains will rise, while snow cover below this will be shorter-lived. The amount of snow that falls may actually increase, however, even in some northern centres, owing to the intensification of precipitation. Ski-field base stations may eventually have to be moved upwards to be within reach of the new snow line but there could still be plenty of the white stuff up there.

There will also be a marked impact on New Zealand’s glaciers. Over the last 100 years, the glaciers have been reduced by 35%, although since 1978 increase snowfall has offset the effect of warming. The latest studies conducted by the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric. Research (NIWA), however, suggest that by the end of the century, warming over the Southern Alps could be significantly greater than over the rest of country.

Sea levels around New Zealand have risen by 25cm since the middle of the 9th century and by 7 cm since1990. Predictions for the coming years cover a wide range, however, partly because of unknown rises resulting from the melting of the ice in the Arctic, Greenland and Antarctica. In addition, sea level at any given time is affected by many different factors, one of which is called storm surge. When a Coincides with a high tide along low lying coastal areas, this bulge raise the tide higher than normal, creating. Surge not unlike a slow-motion tsunami. Not only does a raise in sea level increase the potential for his sort damage, it also has less immediate impacts, One potentially grave outcome is that ground water systems may become contaminated with salt water, spoiling them for the irrigation of farmland, which in turn could diminish crop harvests. Similarly, over time, estuaries may be enlarged by erosion as tidal influences reach further upstream, altering the contours of whole shorelines and initiating further unforeseen consequences.

The impacts these changes will have on New Zealand arc difficult to generalize. Human systems are better able to adapt to change than natural ecosystems because humans can see a problem coming and plan a response. Farmers and horticulturalists have made considerable advances, replacing crops they grow to better suit the new conditions. However, plant breeders will need to show considerable ingenuity if they can overcome the acute water shortages that are forecast.

For natural ecosystems the rate of change is crucial. If it is low, the plants and animals and fish will be able to ‘keep up’; if it is high, only the most adaptable species-those that can survive in the widest range of ecological niches-are likely to survive. Species adapted to only a narrow range of conditions or food sources will find adaptation much more difficult. Take tuatara, for instance. Their sex is determined by the temperature at which the eggs are incubated in warm (currently above 22 °C) condition become predominately male – and now males already outnumber females by nearly two to one in some island refuges. In the mountains, as the permanent snow line moves upwards, the tolerance zones of some alpine plants and animals may simply disappear. It should also be remembered that global warming is just that – a global phenomenon. ‘New Zealand’s own greenhouse emissions arc tiny – around 0.5% of the global total. Even if New Zealanders were to achieve the government’s target of carbon neutrality, this would have no discernable impact on global climate change.

The changes that global warming is going to bring to New Zealand during the 21rt century are going to be significant, but where the country is likely to be most vulnerable is with respect to climate change elsewhere. New Zealand may warm more slowly than most places, but if its major export markets undergo damaging change, the economic impact will be severe.

 

Question 27-32

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

Write the correct letter in boxes 27-32 on your answer sheet.

  1. What is the main idea of the first paragraph?
  1. The air condition in New Zealand will maintain a high quality because of the ocean
  2. The Southern Ocean will remain at a constant strength
  3. the continents will warm more than the point
  4. New Zealand will not warm as much as other countries in the next century because it is surrounded by sea.
  1. What does the writer say about New Zealand’s variable weather?
  1. Temperature changes of 1°C will not be seem important in future
  2. Variable weather will continue, unchanged by global warming
  3. There was an unusually small amount of variation in 2006-2007
  4. Summer temperatures will vary but winter ones will be consistent
  1. What is the predicted impact of conditions in the ocean to the south of New Zealand?
  1. New Zealand will be more affected by floods and droughts
  2. Antarctica will not be adversely affected by warming.
  3. The band of west winds will move further to the south.
  4. The usual west wind will no longer be reliable
  1. The writer mentions ‘moisture deficit’ to show?
  1. The droughts will be shorter but more severe
  2. How the growing season will become longer.
  3. how growing conditions will deteriorate
  4. that famers should alter the make-up of soils
  1. What are the implications of global warming for New Zealand’s
  1. Skiing may move to lower the altitude in future.
  2. The ski season will be later in the year that at present.
  3. The northern ski field will have to move to the south
  4. Warming may provide more snow for some ski locations
  1. The writer refers to NIWA’s latest studies in the 3rd paragraph to show
  1. How a particular place could be affected by warming
  2. B. that the warming trend has been intensifying since 1978
  3. that freezing levels will rise throughout the century
  4. how the growth of glaciers is likely to cause damage

Questions 33-35

Complete the summary below.

Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer. Write your answers in boxes 33-35 on your answer sheet.

Rising sea levels

The extent of future sea level rises around New Zealand is uncertain and may be determined in the 33…………… Another variable is sudden rises in sea level caused by bad weather. Higher sea levels can lead to reduced 34…………….. and result in changes to the shape of 35………..

  1. agriculture production
  2. tropical waters
  3. tidal waves
  4. polar regions
  5. global warming
  6. coastal land
  7. high tides

Question 36-40

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 3?

In boxes 36-40 on your answer sheet, write

YES if the statement is true
NO if the statement is false
NOT GIVEN if the information is not given in the passage

 

  1. The natural world is less responsive to challenges than humans.
  2. The agricultural sector is being too conservative and resistant to innovation.
  3. The global warming is slow; it will affect different regions in different ways.
  4. The tuatara is vulnerable to changes in climate conditions.
  5. New Zealand must reduce carbon emission if global warming is to be slowed

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IELTS Reading Test in 2017
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