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Electricity from Wind

Since 1980, the use of wind to produce electricity has been growing rapidly. In 1994 there were nearly 20,000 wind turbines worldwide, most grouped in clusters called wind farms that collectively produced 3,000 megawatts of electricity. Most were in Denmark (which got 3 percent of its electricity from wind turbines) and California (where 17,000 machines produced 1 percent of the state’s electricity, enough to meet the residential needs of a city as large as San Francisco). In principle, all the power needs of the United States could be provided by exploiting the wind potential of just three states—North Dakota, South Dakota, and Texas.

Large wind farms can be built in six months to a year and then easily expanded as needed. With a moderate to fairly high net energy yield, these systems emit no heat-trapping carbon dioxide or other air pollutants and need no water for cooling; manufacturing them produces little water pollution. The land under wind turbines can be used for grazing cattle and other purposes, and leasing land for wind turbines can provide extra income for farmers and ranchers.

Wind power has a significant cost advantage over nuclear power and has become competitive with coal-fired power plants in many places. With new technological advances and mass production, projected cost declines should make wind power one of the world’s cheapest ways to produce electricity. In the long run, electricity from large wind farms in remote areas might be used to make hydrogen gas from water during periods when there is less than peak demand for electricity. The hydrogen gas could then be fed into a storage system and used to generate electricity when additional or backup power is needed.

Wind power is most economical in areas with steady winds. In areas where the wind dies down, backup electricity from a utility company or from an energy storage system becomes necessary. Backup power could also be provided by linking wind farms with a solar cell, with conventional or pumped-storage hydropower, or with efficient natural-gas-burning turbines. Some drawbacks to wind farms include visual pollution and noise, although these can be overcome by improving their design and locating them in isolated areas.

Large wind farms might also interfere with the flight patterns of migratory birds in certain areas, and they have killed large birds of prey (especially hawks, falcons, and eagles) that prefer to hunt along the same ridge lines that are ideal for wind turbines. The killing of birds of prey by wind turbines has pitted environmentalists who champion wildlife protection against environmentalists who promote renewable wind energy. Researchers are evaluating how serious this problem is and hope to find ways to eliminate or sharply reduce this problem. Some analysts also contend that the number of birds killed by wind turbines is dwarfed by birds killed by other human-related sources and by the potential loss of entire bird species from possible global warming. Recorded deaths of birds of prey and other birds in wind farms in the United States currently amount to no more than 300 per year. By contrast, in the United States an estimated 97 million birds are killed each year when they collide with buildings made of plate glass, 57 million are killed on highways each year; at least 3.8 million die annually from pollution and poisoning; and millions of birds are electrocuted each year by transmission and distribution lines carrying power produced by nuclear and coal power plants.

The technology is in place for a major expansion of wind power worldwide. Wind power is a virtually unlimited source of energy at favorable sites, and even excluding environmentally sensitive areas, the global potential of wind power is much higher than the current world electricity use. In theory, Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, Russia, and the United Kingdom could use wind to meet all of their energy needs. Wind power experts project that by the middle of the twenty-first century wind power could supply more than 10 percent of the world’s electricity and 10-25 percent of the electricity used in the United States.

In paragraph 5, why does the author give details about the estimated numbers of birds killed each year

A.To argue that wind farms should not be built along ridge lines
B.To point out that the deaths of migratory birds exceed the deaths of birds of prey
C.To explain why some environmentalists oppose wind energy
D.To suggest that wind turbines result in relatively few bird deaths

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1

Deer Populations of the Puget Sound

Two species of deer have been prevalent in the Puget Sound area of Washington State in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. The black-tailed deer, lowland, west-side cousin of the mule deer of eastern Washington, is now the most common. The other species, the Columbian white-tailed deer, in earlier times was common in the open prairie country, it is now restricted to the low, marshy islands and flood plains along the lower Columbia River.

Nearly any kind of plant of the forest understory can be part of a deer's diet. Where the forest inhibits the growth of grass and other meadow plants, the black-tailed deer browses on huckleberry, salal, dogwood, and almost any other shrub or herb. But this is fair-weather feeding. What keeps the black-tailed deer alive in the harsher seasons of plant decay and dormancy One compensation for not hibernating is the built-in urge to migrate. Deer may move from high-elevation browse areas in summer down to the lowland areas in late fall. Even with snow on the ground, the high bushy understory is exposed; also snow and wind bring down leafy branches of cedar, hemlock, red alder, and other arboreal fodder.

The numbers of deer have fluctuated markedly since the entry of Europeans into Puget Sound country. The early explorers and settlers told of abundant deer in the early 1800s and yet almost in the same breath bemoaned the lack of this succulent game animal. Famous explorers of the north American frontier, Lewis and Clark had experienced great difficulty finding game west of the Rockies and not until the second of December did they kill their first elk. To keep 40 people alive that winter, they consumed approximately 150 elk and 20 deer. And when game moved out of the lowlands in early spring, the expedition decided to return east rather than face possible starvation. Later on in the early years of the nineteenth century, when Fort Vancouver became the headquarters of the Hudson's Bay Company, deer populations continued to fluctuate. David Douglas, Scottish botanical explorer of the 1830s found a disturbing change in the animal life around the fort during the period between his first visit in 1825 and his final contact with the fort in 1832. A recent Douglas biographer states:" The deer which once picturesquely dotted the meadows around the fort were gone [in 1832], hunted to extermination in order to protect the crops."

Reduction in numbers of game should have boded ill for their survival in later times. A worsening of the plight of deer was to be expected as settlers encroached on the land, logging, burning, and clearing, eventually replacing a wilderness landscape with roads, cities, towns, and factories. No doubt the numbers of deer declined still further. Recall the fate of the Columbian white-tailed deer, now in a protected status. But for the black-tailed deer, human pressure has had just the opposite effect. Wild life zoologist Hulmut Buechner(1953), in reviewing the nature of biotic changes in Washington through recorded time, Says that "since the early 1940s, the state has had more deer than at any other time in its history, the winter population fluctuating around approximately 320,000 deer (mule and black-tailed deer), which will yield about 65,000 of either sex and any age annually for an indefinite period.”

The causes of this population rebound are consequences of other human actions. First, the major predators of deer---wolves, cougar, and lynx--have been greatly reduced in numbers. Second, conservation has been insured by limiting times for and types of hunting. But the most profound reason for the restoration of high population numbers has been the gate of the forests. Great tracts of lowland country deforested by logging, fire, or both have become ideal feeding grounds of deer. In addition to finding an increase of suitable browse, like huckleberry and vine maple, Arthur Einarsen, longtime game biologist in the Pacific Northwest, found quality of browse in the open areas to be substantially more nutritive. The protein content of shade-grown vegetation, for example, was much lower than that for plants grown in clearings.

The phrase “indefinite period” in the passage is closest in meaning to period

A.Whose end has not been determined
B.That does not begin when expected
C.That lasts only briefly
D.Whose importance remains unknown

2

Cave Art in Europe

The earliest discovered traces of art are beads and carvings, and then paintings, from sites dating back to the Upper Paleolithic period. We might expect that early artistic efforts would be crude, but the cave paintings of Spain and southern France show a marked degree of skill. So do the naturalistic paintings on slabs of stone excavated in southern Africa. Some of those slabs appear to have been painted as much as 28,000 years ago, which suggests that painting in Africa is as old as painting in Europe. But painting may be even older than that. The early Australians may have painted on the walls of rock shelters and cliff faces at least 30,000 years ago, and maybe as much as 60,000 years ago.

The researchers Peter Ucko and Andree Rosenfeld identified three principal locations of paintings in the caves of western Europe: (1) in obviously inhabited rock shelters and cave entrances; (2) in galleries immediately off the inhabited areas of caves; and (3) in the inner reaches of caves, whose difficulty of access has been interpreted by some as a sign that magical-religious activities were performed there.

The subjects of the paintings are mostly animals. The paintings rest on bare walls, with no backdrops or environmental trappings. Perhaps, like many contemporary peoples, Upper Paleolithic men and women believed that the drawing of a human image could cause death or injury, and if that were indeed their belief, it might explain why human figures are rarely depicted in cave art. Another explanation for the focus on animals might be that these people sought to improve their luck at hunting. This theory is suggested by evidence of chips in the painted figures, perhaps made by spears thrown at the drawings. But if improving their hunting luck was the chief motivation for the paintings, it is difficult to explain why only a few show signs of having been speared. Perhaps the paintings were inspired by the need to increase the supply of animals. Cave art seems to have reached a peak toward the end of the Upper Paleolithic period, when the herds of game were decreasing.

The particular symbolic significance of the cave paintings in southwestern France is more explicitly revealed, perhaps, by the results of a study conducted by researchers Patricia Rice and Ann Paterson. The data they present suggest that the animals portrayed in the cave paintings were mostly the ones that the painters preferred for meat and for materials such as hides. For example, wild cattle (bovines) and horses are portrayed more often than we would expect by chance, probably because they were larger and heavier (meatier) than other animals in the environment. In addition, the paintings mostly portray animals that the painters may have feared the most because of their size, speed, natural weapons such as tusks and horns, and the unpredictability of their behavior. That is, mammoths, bovines, and horses are portrayed more often than deer and reindeer. Thus, the paintings are consistent with the idea that the art is related to the importance of hunting in the economy of Upper Paleolithic people. Consistent with this idea, according to the investigators, is the fact that the art of the cultural period that followed the Upper Paleolithic also seems to reflect how people got their food. But in that period, when getting food no longer depended on hunting large game animals (because they were becoming extinct), the art ceased to focus on portrayals of animals.

Upper Paleolithic art was not confined to cave paintings. Many shafts of spears and similar objects were decorated with figures of animals. The anthropologist Alexander Marshack has an interesting interpretation of some of the engravings made during the Upper Paleolithic. He believes that as far back as 30.000 B.C., hunters may have used a system of notation, engraved on bone and stone, to mark phases of the Moon. If this is true, it would mean that Upper Paleolithic people were capable of complex thought and were consciously aware of their environment. In addition to other artworks, figurines representing the human female in exaggerated form have also been found at Upper Paleolithic sites. It has been suggested that these figurines were an ideal type or an expression of a desire for fertility.

According to paragraph 3, scholars explained chips in the painted figures of animals by proposing that

A.Upper Paleolithic artists used marks to record the animals they had seen
B.the paintings were inspired by the need to increase the supply of animals for hunting
C.the artists had removed rough spots on the cave walls
D.Upper Paleolithic people used the paintings to increase their luck at hunting

3

Petroleum Resources

Petroleum, consisting of crude oil and natural gas, seems to originate from organic matter in marine sediment. Microscopic organisms settle to the seafloor and accumulate in marine mud. The organic matter may partially decompose, using up the dissolved oxygen in the sediment. As soon as the oxygen is gone, decay stops and the remaining organic matter is preserved.

Continued sedimentation—the process of deposits’ settling on the sea bottom—buries the organic matter and subjects it to higher temperatures and pressures, which convert the organic matter to oil and gas. As muddy sediments are pressed together, the gas and small droplets of oil may be squeezed out of the mud and may move into sandy layers nearby. Over long periods of time (millions of years), accumulations of gas and oil can collect in the sandy layers. Both oil and gas are less dense than water, so they generally tend to rise upward through water-saturated rock and sediment.

Oil pools are valuable underground accumulations of oil, and oil fields are regions underlain by one or more oil pools. When an oil pool or field has been discovered, wells are drilled into the ground. Permanent towers, called derricks, used to be built to handle the long sections of drilling pipe. Now portable drilling machines are set up and are then dismantled and removed. When the well reaches a pool, oil usually rises up the well because of its density difference with water beneath it or because of the pressure of expanding gas trapped above it. Although this rise of oil is almost always carefully controlled today, spouts of oil, or gushers, were common in the past. Gas pressure gradually dies out, and oil is pumped from the well. Water or steam may be pumped down adjacent wells to help push the oil out. At a refinery, the crude oil from underground is separated into natural gas, gasoline, kerosene, and various oils. Petrochemicals such as dyes, fertilizer, and plastic are also manufactured from the petroleum.

As oil becomes increasingly difficult to find, the search for it is extended into more-hostile environments. The development of the oil field on the North Slope of Alaska and the construction of the Alaska pipeline are examples of the great expense and difficulty involved in new oil discoveries. Offshore drilling platforms extend the search for oil to the ocean’s continental shelves—those gently sloping submarine regions at the edges of the continents. More than one-quarter of the world’s oil and almost one-fifth of the world’s natural gas come from offshore, even though offshore drilling is six to seven times more expensive than drilling on land. A significant part of this oil and gas comes from under the North Sea between Great Britain and Norway.

Of course, there is far more oil underground than can be recovered. It may be in a pool too small or too far from a potential market to justify the expense of drilling. Some oil lies under regions where drilling is forbidden, such as national parks or other public lands. Even given the best extraction techniques, only about 30 to 40 percent of the oil in a given pool can be brought to the surface. The rest is far too difficult to extract and has to remain underground.

Moreover, getting petroleum out of the ground and from under the sea and to the consumer can create environmental problems anywhere along the line. Pipelines carrying oil can be broken by faults or landslides, causing serious oil spills. Spillage from huge oil-carrying cargo ships, called tankers, involved in collisions or accidental groundings (such as the one off Alaska in 1989) can create oil slicks at sea. Offshore platforms may also lose oil, creating oil slicks that drift ashore and foul the beaches, harming the environment. Sometimes, the ground at an oil field may subside as oil is removed. The Wilmington field near Long Beach, California, has subsided nine meters in 50 years; protective barriers have had to be built to prevent seawater from flooding the area. Finally, the refining and burning of petroleum and its products can cause air pollution. Advancing technology and strict laws, however, are helping control some of these adverse environmental effects.

Which of the following can be inferred from paragraph 3 about gushers

A.They make bringing the oil to the surface easier.
B.They signal the presence of huge oil reserves.
C.They waste more oil than they collect.
D.They are unlikely to occur nowadays.

4

Meteorite Impact and Dinosaur Extinction

There is increasing evidence that the impacts of meteorites have had important effects on Earth, particularly in the field of biological evolution. Such impacts continue to pose a natural hazard to life on Earth. Twice in the twentieth century, large meteorite objects are known to have collided with Earth.

If an impact is large enough, it can disturb the environment of the entire Earth and cause an ecological catastrophe. The best-documented such impact took place 65 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous period of geological history. This break in Earth's history is marked by a mass extinction, when as many as half the species on the planet became extinct. While there are a dozen or more mass extinctions in the geological record, the Cretaceous mass extinction has always intrigued paleontologists because it marks the end of the age of the dinosaurs. For tens of millions of years, those great creatures had flourished. Then, suddenly, they disappeared.

The body that impacted Earth at the end of the Cretaceous period was a meteorite with a mass of more than a trillion tons and a diameter of at least 10 kilometers. Scientists first identified this impact in 1980 from the worldwide layer of sediment deposited from the dust cloud that enveloped the planet after the impact. This sediment layer is enriched in the rare metal iridium and other elements that are relatively abundant in a meteorite but very rare in the crust of Earth. Even diluted by the terrestrial material excavated from the crater, this component of meteorites is easily identified. By 1990 geologists had located the impact site itself in the Yucat region of Mexico. The crater, now deeply buried in sediment, was originally about 200 kilometers in diameter.

This impact released an enormous amount of energy, excavating a crater about twice as large as the lunar crater Tycho. The explosion lifted about 100 trillion tons of dust into the atmosphere, as can be determined by measuring the thickness of the sediment layer formed when this dust settled to the surface. Such a quantity of material would have blocked the sunlight completely from reaching the surface, plunging Earth into a period of cold and darkness that lasted at least several months. The explosion is also calculated to have produced vast quantities of nitric acid and melted rock that sprayed out over much of Earth, starting widespread fires that must have consumed most terrestrial forests and grassland. Presumably, those environmental disasters could have been responsible for the mass extinction, including the death of the dinosaurs.

Several other mass extinctions in the geological record have been tentatively identified with large impacts, but none is so dramatic as the Cretaceous event. But even without such specific documentation, it is clear that impacts of this size do occur and that their results can be catastrophic. What is a catastrophe for one group of living things, however, may create opportunities for another group. Following each mass extinction, there is a sudden evolutionary burst as new species develop to fill the ecological niches opened by the event.

Impacts by meteorites represent one mechanism that could cause global catastrophes and seriously influence the evolution of life all over the planet. According to some estimates, the majority of all extinctions of species may be due to such impacts. Such a perspective fundamentally changes our view of biological evolution. The standard criterion for the survival of a species is its success in competing with other species and adapting to slowly changing environments. Yet an equally important criterion is the ability of a species to survive random global ecological catastrophes due to impacts.

Earth is a target in a cosmic shooting gallery, subject to random violent events that were unsuspected a few decades ago. In 1991 the United States Congress asked NASA to investigate the hazard posed today by large impacts on Earth. The group conducting the study concluded from a detailed analysis that impacts from meteorites can indeed be hazardous. Although there is always some risk that a large impact could occur, careful study shows that this risk is quite small.

The word excavating in the passage is closest in the meaning to

A.Digging out
B.Extending
C.Destroying
D.Covering up

5

Electricity from Wind

Since 1980, the use of wind to produce electricity has been growing rapidly. In 1994 there were nearly 20,000 wind turbines worldwide, most grouped in clusters called wind farms that collectively produced 3,000 megawatts of electricity. Most were in Denmark (which got 3 percent of its electricity from wind turbines) and California (where 17,000 machines produced 1 percent of the state’s electricity, enough to meet the residential needs of a city as large as San Francisco). In principle, all the power needs of the United States could be provided by exploiting the wind potential of just three states—North Dakota, South Dakota, and Texas.

Large wind farms can be built in six months to a year and then easily expanded as needed. With a moderate to fairly high net energy yield, these systems emit no heat-trapping carbon dioxide or other air pollutants and need no water for cooling; manufacturing them produces little water pollution. The land under wind turbines can be used for grazing cattle and other purposes, and leasing land for wind turbines can provide extra income for farmers and ranchers.

Wind power has a significant cost advantage over nuclear power and has become competitive with coal-fired power plants in many places. With new technological advances and mass production, projected cost declines should make wind power one of the world’s cheapest ways to produce electricity. In the long run, electricity from large wind farms in remote areas might be used to make hydrogen gas from water during periods when there is less than peak demand for electricity. The hydrogen gas could then be fed into a storage system and used to generate electricity when additional or backup power is needed.

Wind power is most economical in areas with steady winds. In areas where the wind dies down, backup electricity from a utility company or from an energy storage system becomes necessary. Backup power could also be provided by linking wind farms with a solar cell, with conventional or pumped-storage hydropower, or with efficient natural-gas-burning turbines. Some drawbacks to wind farms include visual pollution and noise, although these can be overcome by improving their design and locating them in isolated areas.

Large wind farms might also interfere with the flight patterns of migratory birds in certain areas, and they have killed large birds of prey (especially hawks, falcons, and eagles) that prefer to hunt along the same ridge lines that are ideal for wind turbines. The killing of birds of prey by wind turbines has pitted environmentalists who champion wildlife protection against environmentalists who promote renewable wind energy. Researchers are evaluating how serious this problem is and hope to find ways to eliminate or sharply reduce this problem. Some analysts also contend that the number of birds killed by wind turbines is dwarfed by birds killed by other human-related sources and by the potential loss of entire bird species from possible global warming. Recorded deaths of birds of prey and other birds in wind farms in the United States currently amount to no more than 300 per year. By contrast, in the United States an estimated 97 million birds are killed each year when they collide with buildings made of plate glass, 57 million are killed on highways each year; at least 3.8 million die annually from pollution and poisoning; and millions of birds are electrocuted each year by transmission and distribution lines carrying power produced by nuclear and coal power plants.

The technology is in place for a major expansion of wind power worldwide. Wind power is a virtually unlimited source of energy at favorable sites, and even excluding environmentally sensitive areas, the global potential of wind power is much higher than the current world electricity use. In theory, Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, Russia, and the United Kingdom could use wind to meet all of their energy needs. Wind power experts project that by the middle of the twenty-first century wind power could supply more than 10 percent of the world’s electricity and 10-25 percent of the electricity used in the United States.

. Which of the sentences below best expresses the essential information in the highlighted sentence in the passage Incorrect choices change the meaning in important ways or leave out essential information.

A.Hawks, falcons, and eagles prefer to hunt along ridge lines, where wind turbines can kill large numbers of migratory birds.
B.Wind turbines occasionally cause migratory birds to change their flight patterns and therefore may interfere with the areas where birds of prey prefer to hunt.
C.Some of the best locations for large wind farms are places that may cause problems for migrating birds and birds of prey.
D.Large wind farms in certain areas kill hawks, falcons, and eagles and thus might create a more ideal path for the flight of migratory birds.