SPM Reading Comprehension

Exercise 1

Deforestation

Questions are based on the following passage.

 

Deforestation is the cutting or burning down of all the trees in a forest and the conversion of forested areas to non- forest land for use such as arable land or pasture, or for urban use. Deforestation results from removal of trees without sufficient reforestation, and results in decline in habitat and biodiversity, in wood for fuel and industrial use, and in the quality of life. In many countries, massive deforestation is ongoing and is shaping climate and geography.

Deforestation is a substantial contributor to global warming, and although 70 percent of the oxygen we breathe comes from photosynthesis of marine green algae and cyanobacteria, the mass destruction of the world’s rain forests is not beneficial to our environment. In addition, the incineration and burning of forests plants in order to clear land, releases tonnes of carbon dioxide which increase the impact of global warming.

Deforestation reduces the content of water in the soil, reduces groundwater as well as atmospheric moisture. Deforestation reduces soil cohesion, so that erosion, flooding and landslides often result. More flash floods and localised floods occur because of deforestation. This would not happen if there is forest cover.

Forests support considerable biodiversity, providing valuable habitat for wildlife. Moreover, forests foster medicinal conservation and forest biotopes are a major, irreplaceable source of new drugs (like taxol).

Deforestation also contributes to decreased evapotranspiration, which lessens atmospheric moisture which in some cases affects precipitation levels. Water is thus lost in run-off and returns directly to the oceans. According to one preliminary study, in deforested north and northwest China, the average annual precipitation decreased by one third between the 1950s and 1980s.

Long-term gains can be obtained by managing forest lands sustainable to maintain both forest cover and provide a biodegradable renewable resource. Forests are also important stores of organic carbon, and forests can extract carbon dioxide and pollutants from the air, thus contributing to biosphere stability. Deforestation (mainly in tropical areas) accounts for up to one third of total anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. Forests are also valued for their aesthetic beauty and as a cultural resource and tourist attraction.

The effects of human-related deforestation can be mitigated through environmentally sustainable practices that reduce permanent destruction of forests or even act to preserve and rehabilitate disrupted forestland.  These methods help the cause and provide a sustainable growth of forests and allow lumber to become a renewable resource.

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Exercise 2 

Petronas Malaysia Formula One Grand Prix

Picture
Questions are based on the following passage.

 

            In early March this year, thunderous roars resonate through the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) as the Petronas Malaysia Formula One Grand Prix stages its round for the season. The event attracts tens of thousands of people, from far and wide, local and foreign, to witness the hottest motor race in Malaysia.

The SIC has been described as one of the most technically advanced circuits in the Formula One challenge, having chalked up an astounding cost US$100 000 to build. It can accommodate up to 130 000 spectators with a clear view of the spectacular track. The specially designed track, built in a valley, allows each spectator to see at least half of the circuit at any given time. About 30 000 spectators can be seated on two levels opposite the start/finish line. At the end of the main grandstand vantage point, 1100 visitors can view three quarters of the track.

The pit area is one of the largest in the world of motor sports. This two-storey building houses race control facilities, 30 pits for the race teams, offices and facilities for the media. There is a fully equipped medical centre in the complex as well.

Accelerating down the 5.543-kilometre long road track at a hair-raising speed of up to 250km/h, F1 drivers have to whiz through two long straights and negotiate 15 corners of which three are tight hairpin ones to complete the 56 laps before they head for chequered flag.

Exciting racing is part of the game as the width of the track provides overtaking chances than many of the other circuits in other F1 host countries.

Over the years, rules have been changed to make the race more challenging to both drivers and the designers of engines and tyres. Today, a visit to the pit stop is only for topping up fuel but no changing of tyres is allowed as had been the practice in previous seasons. This means each car has to keep the same set of tyres for both the qualifying rounds (which are held prior to the actual race) and the race itself. Changes can only be made if the tyre is damaged or if Race Control decides that a change is necessary because of weather conditions which require a complete change of tyres. With this change in race rules, drivers have to face the constant fight to control tyre wear throughout the race.

Additionally, Formula One designers not only have to work on making tyres that last longer but also redesign engines which allow them to perform efficiently for two whole races. This means that instead of the power units having a life a little more than the length of one Grand Prix race, they need to last for around 1500 kilometres at racing speeds including the practice and the qualifying sessions.

Over and above all these new rules, another one that has been introduced is to reduce the downforce applied to each car. Drivers have to reduce their speed as they head towards the hairpin bends. These major changes are bound to have an effect on performance. The test comes when the row of red lights goes out over the grid.

Meanwhile, spectators on the ground can expect to feel the heat and power of the race as the cars rush to get the first of two hairpin bends – right and then a hard left at 70km/hr, after whizzing down a straight at 250km/hr. As the race progresses to a pulsating speed, high drama accompanied by deafening roars across the circuit is expected as each car laps round the tracks at breakneck speeds to the chequered flag.

Will the SIC see a new winner at the podium? It is anybody’s guess. But one thing is certain; each series will definitely be a thrilling and sizzling battle of man and engines.


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