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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.

日益逼近的能源危机


两百年前,全球经历了一场能源革命,由此引发了工业时代的到来。从那时起,随着人口密度的迅速增加,工业国家对于能源的需求成倍成倍增加。石油和天然气被看作是用途多、质量好的能源产品而得到开发,而铀也得以开发,为核反应堆提供燃料并供应原子能源。


廉价能源是人类社会的命脉。但是,对煤炭、石油、天然气这些不可再生的矿物燃料及有争议的铀进行近乎垄断地使用以满足我们日益增长的对能源的需求的做法有其危险的一面。这些燃料的供应实际上是有限的,并且,使用这些燃料对我们的健康和环境都造成威胁。正因如此,人们制定了众多的国际条约,以限制对矿物燃料的使用。除了造成全球变暖之外,矿物燃料在燃烧过程中还会释放出某些化学物质和微粒,引发呼吸系统疾病、癌症,并造成对大脑和神经的损伤。如果把所有代价都考虑进来的话,曾经被称颂为“便宜到无法计量”的核能从经济效益上来说则从未获得过成功。而且,民意调查显示,核能总被认为与灾难密切相关,例如切尔诺贝利核反应堆熔毁事件及福岛核电站爆炸事件。同时,核能还具有一种危险,就是叛乱分子可能利用其有毒废物制造伤害。死去的植物和动物所产生的价格低廉且看似充足的非再生能源推动了20世纪的经济发展,但地理学家、气候学家、环境学家以及其他许多人都在警告我们:这样美好的时光很快就要结束了。


在不久的将来的某个时候,地球上最后一滴石油、最后一块煤或最后一缕天然气将被开采。迄今为止一直被证明是稳定可靠的矿物燃料终将消失,这让我们别无选择,只能作好准备,迎接新的能源综合利用时代的到来。可以肯定,人类对能源的需求不会趋于减少或保持稳定,而是会随着世界人口在未来50年增长到90亿而迅速增加。据预测,到2020年,全球的能源消耗将直线增长50%。


我们怎样才能满足未来急剧增长的能源需求呢?在我们完善冷聚变技术之前,我们只能专注于开发太阳能、风能、水电能之类的可再生能源,并提高其产量。虽然可再生能源前景乐观,一个由科学家和工程师组成的国际联盟却正在积极工作,努力克服与这些“新兴能源”技术相关的各种障碍,其中最大的挑战就是如何使这些技术变得既高效又经济。


以太阳能为例。由于耀眼的太阳光能够提供源源不断的能源,所以它是个不错的选择。但是,大规模地使用太阳能却是说起来容易做起来难。把制造太阳能所需要的复杂零件从“环保”社会的边缘推广到主流社会,使之成为世界主要的消费性能源,其代价之高让人望而却步。太阳能设备本身已是技术成熟,可以使商业和消费者进行许多新型应用,但是,在全球或者即便是在全国范围内,用新型的半导体和晶体管电子技术取代老式的用齿轮和发动机驱动的燃烧设备,其成本实在太高。


风能在一些地方已经被几代人有效利用,目前在能源市场中也发展迅速。风能的原理是:风通过驱动涡轮机叶片按顺时针或逆时针方向绕着一个轴旋转,从而把转动时所产生的力转换成电能。不幸的是,风能非常不稳定,其强度取决于当地的天气模式、温度、季节以及地域。除了不稳定的因素之外,和其他能源相比,风能设备造价昂贵。除非我们能将其成本大大降低,否则风能就不会成为一个可行的替代能源。而且,一个“风能农场”需要大片空旷的土地才能生产大量能源。


水力电能是另外一种既干净又能再生的能源。人们可以通过不同方法来控制自然水流以进行发电。最普遍的方法是通过水坝,但不幸的是,建水坝已被认为是对环境不利的方法了。世界上大多数用于水力发电的大坝建造历史都不长,但是所有的水库最终都会被淤泥填塞,需要耗资巨大进行清淤才能使它们重新得到利用。


动植物物质所产生的生物能源也是一种可再生能源,且被认为是矿物燃料的备用替代品。以死树、枯叶、动物尸体以及食品加工废料的形式存在的有机废物十分充足,可以被用来制造能源。然而,将生物质作为燃料直接燃烧,通风时必然会将二氧化碳及其他温室气体排放到大气中。这些气体会对臭氧层造成威胁,增加人们受到来自太阳的有害紫外线照射的危险。除此以外,将生物质以原始形态进行收集,并将它们运送到某个中心站加工处理成燃料,这一过程既耗时又耗财,而且对这一过程实现自动化非常困难。所以,在目前,生物质能源有太多高成本方面的缺点,不能成为矿物燃料可行的替代品。


虽然从经济实惠方面来说,可再生能源没有矿物能源有竞争力,但是,与燃烧煤和石油所带来的健康及环境代价相比,它们的价格又变得较有吸引力了。也许,对于日益紧迫的能源挑战,最好的解决办法正如“忧思科学家联盟”所出的一份简报上所说的那样:“未来我们社会的成功不能依赖于某一单一的解决方案。相反,答案须来自一系列各种不同的能源技术。这些技术有一个共同目的:它们不会耗尽我们的自然资源,也不会破环我们的环境。”尽管困难重重,我们需要牢记的是,能源危机正以超音速逼近,即将来到我们面前。为了在能源领域开创一个新时代,我们必须赶快行动,努力寻求国际合作,以找到能源问题最有效的解决办法。