IELTS Practice Reading # Does Flying Harm ?

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Given the rage (angry fury) that air travel can provoke (to anger, enrage, exasperate, or vex)in even the most tranquil (free from commotion or tumult; peaceful; quiet; calm)among us these days, it may be surprising (causing wonder)that riot (a noisy, violent public disorder caused by a group or crowd of persons,as by a crowd protesting against another group, a government policy,etc., in the streets)police aren’t a more regular feature at airports. But Sunday’s pitched (to set at a certain point)battle between roughly 500 environmental activists and a phalanx ( a group of heavily armed infantry formed in rank sand files close and deep, with shields joined and long spears overlapping)of baton-wielding police at London’s Heathrow airport wasn’t about long lines, delays, lost luggage or missed connections. Instead, the protesters (an expression or declaration of objection, disapproval, or dissent, oftenin opposition to something a person is powerless to prevent or avoid)— who had demonstrated outside Heathrow all of last week — were trying to draw travelers’ attention to the impact on climate change of the carbon gases emitted by the aircraft in which they fly. A placard (a paperboard sign or notice, as one posted in a public place or carriedby a demonstrator or picketer)from one activist at Heathrow expressed it thus: “You Fly, They Die.”

Airplanes operate on petroleum fuel, which means they release large amounts of carbon dioxide when they fly. Commercial (able to yield or make a profit)air travel is currently responsible for a relatively tiny part of the global carbon footprint —just 3.5% of total greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But the unique chemistry of high-altitude jet emissions (an act or instance of emitting)may produce an additional warming effect, while the explosive (tending or serving to explode)growth in air travel makes it one of the fastest-growing sources of carbon gases in the atmosphere. And unlike energy or automobiles, where carbon-free or lower-carbon alternatives (a choice limited to one of two or more possibilities, as of things,propositions, or courses of action, the selection of which precludes any other possibility)already exist, even if they have yet to be widely adopted, there is no low-carbon way to fly, and there likely won’t be for decades.


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