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Unit 7 Text A The coming energy crisis翻译,原文和录音

[2018年11月6日] 来源:新视野大学英语Unit 7 编辑:给力英语网   字号 [] [] []  

The coming energy crisis

1 Two hundred years ago the world experienced an energy revolution that launched the Industrial Age. Ever since then with the rapid increase of population density the industrialized world's thirst for energy has more than tripled. Petroleum and natural gas are exploited as versatile and high quality energy products. Uranium is also tapped to fuel nuclear reactors and provide atomic energy.

2 Cheap energy is the lifeblood of human society. But there is a dark side to the near monopoly of non-renewable fossil fuels like coal oil and natural gas along with controversial uranium to supply our growing energy demands. The supply of these fuels is physically limited and their use threatens our health and environment. Multiple international treaties have been proposed to limit the use of fossil fuels for this very reason. Fears of global warming aside burning fossil fuels releases chemicals and particulates that can cause breathing problems cancer as well as brain and nerve damage. Nuclear energy once hailed as "too cheap to meter" has never been economically successful when all costs are factored in. Furthermore public opinion polls show nuclear energy is too closely associated with disasters like the Chernobyl reactor meltdown and the Fukushima explosion and with the danger that rebel insurgents could do damage with the toxic waste. Inexpensive and seemingly abundant non-renewable energy from dead plants and extinct animals fueled the 20th century economy but geologists climatologists environmentalists and many others are warning that the honeymoon may soon be over.

3 At some indefinite time in the near future the last drop of oil lump of coal or wisp of natural gas will be collected from the earth. The eventual depletion of fossil fuels that hitherto proved so reliable has left us with no choice but to prepare for a new age of energy synthesis. Most certainly human demand for energy will not decrease or plateau but surge as world population grows to nine billion over the next 50 years. By the year 2020 world energy consumption is projected to show a linear increase of 50 percent.

4 How will we meet the sky-rocketing energy demands of the future? Until we perfect the technology of cold fusion we'll have to focus on the development and increased production of energy from renewable energy source  sun wind water and so on. While renewable energy sources are promising an international confederation of scientists and engineers is working feverishly to overcome the various obstacles associated with these "new energy" technologies. The major challenge is to develop efficient and economically workable versions of these technologies.

5 Take solar energy for example. It is a good option because there is an unlimited supply of glittering sunlight. Making it work on a large scale however is much easier said than done. It would be cost prohibitive to take the intricate gadgets of solar energy from the fringe of "green" society to the mainstream for major world consumption. The solar apparatus itself is ready for many new business and consumer applications but it is way too expensive to replace the old combustion machinery of gears and motors with new electronic technology of semiconductors and transistors on a global or even a national scale.

6 Wind power which has been used effectively in some places for generations is also rapidly growing in the energy market. The principle behind it is that wind converts rotary force into electricity by turning the blades of the turbine clockwise or counterclockwise around an axis. Unfortunately wind power is very unreliable and its strength depends on local weather patterns temperature time of year and location. In addition to this unreliability wind power equipment is very expensive compared with other energy sources and won't become a viable alternative until we can slash the costs significantly. Also a "wind farm" requires enormous land clearing to produce significant amounts of energy.

7 Hydroelectric power is another source of clean and renewable energy. It can be harnessed by controlling the natural outflow of water with different methods. The most popular is through dams which unfortunately are no longer considered environmentally friendly. Most of the hydroelectric dams in the world are historically recent but all reservoirs eventually will fill up with mud and require very expensive excavation to clear them up to become useful again.

8 Biomass energy derived from plant and animal matter is still another renewable source being considered as a standby replacement for fossil fuels. Organic waste in the form of dead trees leaves animal corpses and food processing waste exists in abundance and can be used to produce energy. However there is no way to ventilate the direct burning of biomass as fuel without diffusing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. These gases can pose a risk to the ozone layer increasing overall exposure of human beings to harmful UV rays from the sun. Besides it takes time and money to collect and transport biomass in its raw form to a central point for processing into fuel and the automation of such a process is too difficult. So for the time being biomass has too many costly drawbacks to be a workable alternative to fossil fuels.

9 Although renewable energies are not yet economically competitive with fossil fuels their price becomes more attractive when compared with the health and environmental costs associated with burning coal and oil. Perhaps the best solution to our growing energy challenges comes in a bulletin from the Union of Concerned Scientists: "Our society's future success cannot hinge on one single solution. The answer instead must come from a family of diverse energy technologies that share a unified purpose  they do not deplete our natural resources or destroy our environment." Despite the difficulties it is important to remember that an energy crisis is approaching at supersonic speeds and will soon be upon us. In order to inaugurate a new era in energy we must act quickly and work toward international collaboration to find the most effective solutions to our energy problems.