IELTS Reading Test B2
20 Questions

READING TEST B

TIME: This test is time-bound. You have approximately 30 mins to complete the test.

INSTRUCTIONS:�Please read the narrative carefully.
GLOBAL WARMING

Global warming is the increase in the average temperature of Earth's near-surface air and oceans since the mid-20th century and its projected continuation. Global surface temperature increased 0.74 ± 0.18 °C (1.33 ± 0.32 °F) between the start and the end of the 20th century. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that most of the observed temperature increases since the middle of the 20th century was very likely caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases resulting from human activity such as fossil fuel burning and deforestation. The IPCC also concludes that variations in natural phenomena such as solar radiation and volcanic eruptions had a small cooling effect after 1950. These basic conclusions have been endorsed by more than 40 scientific societies and academies of science, including all of the national academies of science of the major industrialized countries.

Climate model projections summarized in the latest IPCC report indicate that the global surface temperature is likely to rise a further 1.1 to 6.4 °C (2.0 to 11.5 °F) during the 21st century. The uncertainty in this estimate arises from the use of models with differing sensitivity to greenhouse gas concentrations and the use of differing estimates of future greenhouse gas emissions. Most studies focus on the period leading up to the year 2100. However, warming is expected to continue beyond 2100 even if emissions stop, because of the large heat capacity of the oceans and the long lifetime of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

An increase in global temperature will cause sea levels to rise and will change the amount and pattern of precipitation, probably including expansion of subtropical deserts. Warming is expected to be strongest in the Arctic and would be associated with continuing retreat of glaciers, permafrost and sea ice. Other likely effects include changes in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, species extinctions, and changes in agricultural yields. Warming and related changes will vary from region to region around the globe, though the nature of these regional variations is uncertain.

Political and public debate continues regarding global warming, its causes and what actions to take in response. The available options are mitigation to reduce further emissions; adaptation to reduce the damage caused by warming; and, more speculatively, geoengineering to reverse global warming. Most national governments have signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Evidence for warming of the climate system includes observed increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level. The most common measure of global warming is the trend in globally averaged temperature near the Earth's surface. Expressed as a linear trend, this temperature rose by 0.74 ± 0.18 °C over the period 1906–2005. Estimates by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the National Climatic Data Center show that 2005 was the warmest year since reliable, widespread instrumental measurements became available in the late 1800s, exceeding the previous record set in 1998 by a few hundredths of a degree. Estimates prepared by the World Meteorological Organization and the Climatic Research Unit show 2005 as the second warmest year, behind 1998. Temperatures in 1998 were unusually warm because the strongest El Niño in the past century occurred during that year. Global temperature is subject to short-term fluctuations that overlay long term trends and can temporarily mask them. The relative stability in temperature from 2002 to 2009 is consistent with such an episode.

The broad agreement among climate scientists that global temperatures will continue to increase has led some nations, states, corporations and individuals to implement responses. These responses to global warming can be divided into mitigation of the causes and effects of global warming, adaptation to the changing global environment, and geoengineering to reverse global warming.

The IPCC's Working Group III is responsible for crafting reports on mitigation of global warming and the costs and benefits of different approaches. The 2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment Report concludes that no one technology or sector can be completely responsible for mitigating future warming. They find there are key practices and technologies in various sectors, such as energy supply, transportation, industry, and agriculture that should be implemented to reduced global emissions. They estimate that stabilization of carbon dioxide equivalent between 445 and 710 ppm by 2030 will result in between a 0.6 percent increase and three percent decrease in global gross domestic product.

Mitigation of global warming is accomplished through reductions in the rate of anthropogenic greenhouse gas release. The world's primary international agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the Kyoto Protocol, now covers more than 160 countries and over 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. As of February 2010, only the United States, historically the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has refused to ratify the treaty. The treaty expires in 2012. International talks began in May 2007 on a future treaty to succeed the current one. The 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference met in Copenhagen in December 2009 to agree on a framework for climate change mitigation. No binding agreement was made.

There has also been business action on climate change, including efforts to improve energy efficiency and limited moves towards use of alternative fuels. In January 2005 the European Union introduced its European Union Emission Trading Scheme, through which companies in conjunction with government agree to cap their emissions or to purchase credits from those below their allowances. Australia announced its Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in 2008. United States President Barack Obama has announced plans to introduce an economy-wide cap and trade scheme.

A wide variety of measures have been suggested for adaptation to global warming, including: water conservation, water rationing, adaptive agricultural practices including diversification, construction of flood defenses, changes to medical care, and interventions to protect threatened species. The capacity and potential for human systems to adapt is unevenly distributed across different regions and populations. The economic costs of adaptation are potentially large, but also largely unknown. Across the literature, there is wide agreement that adaptation will be more difficult for larger magnitudes and higher rates of climate change.

Geoengineering is the concept of planetary engineering applied to Earth: i.e. the deliberate modification of Earth's natural environment on a large scale to suit human needs. An example is greenhouse gas remediation, which removes greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, usually through carbon sequestration techniques such as carbon dioxide air capture. Solar radiation management reduces absorbed solar radiation, such as by the addition of stratospheric sulfur aerosols or cool roof techniques. No geoengineering projects of significant scale have been implemented, and detailed study has largely been the work of small numbers of scientists; but various significant institutions such as the Royal Society and IMechE have recently suggested that further study is warranted. Their various externalities and other costs are seen as major issues, and the idea or concern that one country could act unilaterally has also been raised.

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