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Science and Nature Critical Reading Practice Exercises Set 1

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Updated on Sep 27, 2011

Science and Nature Critical Reading

Questions 1–4 are based on the following passage.

This passage is adapted from an article authored by the environmental protection organization Greenpeace, regarding Finland's destruction of oldgrowthforests.

Time is running out for the old-growth forests of Finland. The vast majority of Finland's valuable old-growth forest is owned by the state and logged by the state-owned company Metsähallitus. Metsähallitus' logging practices include clearcutting, logging in habitats of threatened and vulnerable species, and logging in areas of special scenic or cultural value—including in areas that are critical for the reindeer herding of the indigenous Sami people.

Despite being involved in a "dialogue process" with two environmental organizations (World Wildlife Fund and the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation), to try and reach agreement regarding additional protection for old-growth forests, Metsähallitus is now logging sites that should be subject to negotiation.

In June 2003, Greenpeace and the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation (FANC) presented comprehensive maps of the oldgrowth areas that should be subject to moratorium, pending discussion and additional protection, to all those involved in the dialogue process. Metsähallitus then announced a halt to new logging operations in these mapped areas. Sadly, the halt in logging was short lived. In August and September logging took place in at least six old-growth forest areas in Northern Finland.

It seems Metsähallitus wants to have its cake and eat it too—friendly talks with environmental groups at the same time they keep logging critical habitat. To be blunt, their commitment to the dialog process has proven untrustworthy. The new logging has been without consensus from the dialog process or proper consultation with the Sami reindeer herders. Now there's a risk the logging will expand to includeother old-growth areas.

Greenpeace investigations have revealed a number of companies buying old-growth timber from Metsähallitus, but the great majority goes to Finland's three international paper manufacturers, Stora Enso, UPM-Kymmene, and M-Real. Greenpeace recommends that companies ask for written guarantees that no material from any of the recently mapped old-growth areas is entering or will enter their supply chain, pending the switch to only timber that has been independently certified to the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council in order to stop this risk to protected forests.

  1. According to the passage, which is NOT a logging practice engaged in by Metsähallitus?
    1. employing the clearcutting method
    2. logging in the habitat of reindeer
    3. logging near scenic Finnish vistas
    4. logging within in the boundaries of the indigenous Sami
    5. logging in traditional Norwegian Fiords
  2. As used in line 15, moratorium most nearly means
    1. an oral presentation.
    2. a bipartisan meeting.
    3. a cessation or stoppage.
    4. an increase in volume.
    5. an autopsy.
  3. The author's tone may best be classified as
    1. casual sarcasm.
    2. urgent warning.
    3. furtive anger.
    4. cool indifference.
    5. reckless panic.
  4. The primary purpose of this passage is to
    1. alert citizens that their forests may be in danger.
    2. expose the logging industry as bad for the environment.
    3. encourage consumers to boycott Finnish wood products.
    4. agitate for change in Finland's illicit logging practices.
    5. rally support for Greenpeace international causes.

Questions 5–9 are based on the following passage.

This passage describes the Great Barrier Reef and its inhabitants.

Coral reefs are among the most diverse and productive ecosystems on Earth. Consisting of both living and non-living components, this type of ecosystem is found in the warm, clear, shallow waters of tropical oceans worldwide. The functionality of the reefs ranges from providing food and shelter to fish and other forms of marine life to protecting the shore from the ill effects of erosion and putrefaction. In fact, reefs actually create land in tropical areas by formulating islands and contributing mass to continental shorelines.

Although coral looks like a plant, actually it is mainly comprised of the limestone skeleton of a tiny animal called a coral polyp. While corals are the main components of reef structure, they are not the only living participants. Coralline algae cement the myriad corals, and other miniature organisms such as tube worms and mollusks contribute skeletons to this dense and diverse structure. Together, these living creatures construct many different types of tropical reefs.

Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest network of coral reefs, stretching 2,010 km (1,250 miles) off Australia's northeastern coast. From microorganisms to whales, diverse life forms make their home on the reef. Over 1,500 fish species, 4,000 mollusk species, 200 bird species, 16 sea snake species, and six sea turtle species thrive in the reef's tropical waters. The reef is also a habitat for the endangered dugong (sea cow), moray eels, and sharks. In addition to crawling with animal life, the coral reef offers the viewer a spectrum of brilliant colors and intricate shapes, a virtual underwater, writhing garden.

Although protected by the Australian government, Great Barrier Reef faces environmental threats. Crown-of-thorns starfish feed on coral and can destroy large portions of reef. Pollution and rising water temperatures also threaten the delicate coral. But the most preventable of the hazards to the reef are tourists. Tourists have contributed to the destruction of the reef ecosystem by breaking off and removing pieces of coral to bring home as souvenirs. The government hopes that by informing tourists of the dangers of this seemingly harmless activity they will quash this creeping menace to the fragile reef.

  1. Which of the following statements does NOT describe the Great Barrier Reef?
    1. Which of the following statements does NOT describe the Great Barrier Reef?
    2. The Great Barrier Reef is a producer of small islands and landmasses.
    3. The Great Barrier Reef is threatened by vacationers.
    4. The Great Barrier Reef is the cause of much beachfront erosion in Northeastern Australia.
    5. The Great Barrier Reef is home to endangered sea turtles.
  2. Based on information from the passage, 4,020 km would be approximately how many miles?
    1. 402
    2. 1,250
    3. 1,500
    4. 2,010
    5. 2,500
  3. In line 6 of the passage, putrefaction most nearly means
    1. purification.
    2. decay.
    3. jettison.
    4. liquification.
    5. farming.
  4. The primary purpose of this passage is to
    1. inform the reader that coral reefs are a threatened, yet broadly functioning ecosystem.
    2. alert the reader to a premier vacation destination in the tropics.
    3. explain in detail how the Great Barrier Reef is constructed.
    4. recommend that tourists stop stealing coral off the Great Barrier Reef.
    5. dispel the argument that coral is a plant, not an animal.
  5. According to the passage, all of the following are a threat to a coral reef EXCEPT
    1. tourists.
    2. pollution.
    3. erosion and putrefaction.
    4. rising water temperatures.
    5. Crown-of-thorns starfish.

Questions 10–16 are based on the following passage.

This passage details the history and reasoning of Daylight Saving Time.

For centuries time was measured by the position of the sun with the use of sundials. Noon was recognized when the sun was the highest in the sky, and cities would set their clock by this Apparent Solar Time, even though some cities would often be on a slightly different time. "Summer time" or Daylight Saving Time (DST) was instituted to make better use of daylight. Thus, clocks are set forward one hour in the spring to move an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening and then set back one hour in the fall to return to normal daylight.

Benjamin Franklin first conceived the idea of daylight saving during his tenure as an American delegate in Paris in 1784 and wrote about it extensively in his essay, "An Economical Project." It is said that Franklin awoke early one morning and was surprised to see the sunlight at such an hour. Always the economist, Franklin believed the practice of moving the time could save on the use of candlelight as candles were expensive at the time. In England, builder William Willett (1857–1915), became a strong supporter for Daylight Saving Time upon noticing blinds of many houses were closed on an early sunny morning. Willett believed everyone, including himself, would appreciate longer hours of light in the evenings. In 1909, Sir Robert Pearce introduced a bill in the House of Commons to make it obligatory to adjust the clocks. A bill was drafted and introduced into Parliament several times but met with great opposition, mostly from farmers. Eventually, in 1925, it was decided that summer time should begin on the day following the third Saturday in April and close after the first Saturday in October.

The United States Congress passed the Standard Time Act of 1918 to establish standard time and preserve and set Daylight Saving Time across the continent. This act also devised five time zones throughout the United States: Eastern, Central, Mountain, Pacific, and Alaska. The first time zone was set on "the mean astronomical time of the seventy-fifth degree of longitude west from Greenwich" (England). In 1919 this act was repealed. President Roosevelt established year-round Daylight Saving Time (also called "War Time") from 1942–1945. However, after this period each state adopted their own DST, which proved to be disconcerting to television and radio broadcasting and transportation. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson created the Department of Transportation and signed the Uniform Time Act. As a result, the Department of Transportation was given the responsibility for the time laws. During the oil embargo and energy crisis of the 1970s, President Richard Nixon extended DST through the Daylight Saving Time Energy Act of 1973 to conserve energy further. This law was modified in 1986, and Daylight Saving Time was set for beginning on the first Sunday in April (to "spring ahead") and ending on the last Sunday in October (to "fall back").

Through the years the U.S. Department of Transportation conducted polls concerning daylight saving time and found that many Americans were in favor of it because of the extended hours of daylight and the freedom to do more in the evening hours. In further studies the U.S. Department of Transportation also found that DST conserves energy by cutting the electricity usage in the morning and evening for lights and particular appliances. During the darkest winter months (November through February), the advantage of conserving energy in afternoon daylight saving time is outweighed by needing more light in the morning because of late sunrise. In Britain, studies showed that there were fewer accidents on the road because of the increased visibility resulting from additional hours of daylight.

Despite these advantages, there is still opposition to DST. One perpetual complaint is the inconvenience of changing many clocks, and adjusting to a new sleep schedule. Farmers often wake at sunrise and find that their animals do not adjust to the changing of time until weeks after the clock is either moved forward or back. In Israel, Sephardic Jews have campaigned against Daylight Saving Time because they recite prayers in the early morning during the Jewish month of Elul. Many places around the globe still do not observe daylight saving time—such as Arizona (excluding Navajo reservations), the five counties in Indiana, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Japan, and Saskatchewan, Canada. Countries located near the equator have equal hours of day and night and do not participate in Daylight Saving Time.

  1. In line 20 the word obligatory most nearly means
    1. approved.
    2. sparse.
    3. aberrant.
    4. requisite.
    5. optional.
  2. According to the passage what is the most beneficial effect of DST?
    1. changing sleeping patterns
    2. less car accidents
    3. conservation of energy
    4. additional time for family outings
    5. preferred harvesting time for farmers
  3. Who first established the idea of DST?
    1. President Richard Nixon
    2. Benjamin Franklin
    3. Sir Robert Pearce
    4. President Lyndon Johnson
    5. William Willett
  4. According to the passage, in which area of the world is DST least useful?
    1. the tropics
    2. Indiana
    3. Navajo reservations
    4. Mexico
    5. Saskatchewan
  5. Which of the following statements is true of the U.S. Department of Transportation?
    1. It was created by President Richard Nixon.
    2. It set the standards for DST throughout the world.
    3. It constructed the Uniform Time Act.
    4. It oversees all time laws in the United States.
    5. It established the standard railway time laws.
  6. What of the following statements is the best title for this passage?
    1. The History and Rationale of Daylight Saving Time
    2. Lyndon Johnson and the Uniform Time Act
    3. The U.S. Department of Transportation and Daylight Saving Time
    4. Daylight Saving Time in the United States
    5. Benjamin Franklin's Discovery
  7. In which month does the need for more energy in the morning offset the afternoon conservation of energy by DST?
    1. June
    2. July
    3. October
    4. January
    5. March
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