Passage A: Tap Water or Bottled Water? SHSS 1189 Preliminary Examinations 2.2010 Set by Mdm Norhani
Passage A Paragraph 1
Bottled water is a drain on the environment: The U.S. public goes through about 50 billion water bottles a year, and most of those plastic containers are not recycled, according to Elizabeth Royte’s 2008 book, Bottlemania: How Water Went On Sale and Why We Bought It. Transporting the bottles and keeping them cold also burns fossil fuels, which give off greenhouse gases. And groundwater pumping by bottled-water companies draws heavily on underground aquifers and harms watersheds, according to the Sierra Club, an environmental non-profit organization.
Passage A Paragraph 2
Yet more than USD100 billion is spent every year on bottled water globally. In many developing countries where there is not a safe source of tap water, bottled water is the only option. But in the U.S., where tap water is federally regulated and often screened for dangerous pollulants, the public still drinks 21 gallons (79 litres) of bottled water per capita per year on average, according to the Columbia Water Centre at Columbia University’s Earth Institute in New York. The bottled-water industry is so successful, it has outpaced milk, coffee, and juice in number of gallons of drinks sold – putting it behind only beer and soda.
Passage A Paragraph 3
Though the sale and consumption of bottled water is still on the rise, certain policymakers and activists have taken steps to reduce it and encourage people to drink tap water. In September 2009, the Australian city of Bundanoon became the first city in the world to completely ban bottled water from its store’s shelves, installing water fountains instead. Among U.S. cities that have taken action are San Francisco and Seattle, which on longer buy water for city use, and Chicago, which added a five-cent tax on each bottle. Several restaurants in those cities have also given up bottled for filtered tap. Other cities are also considering taking action, especially aluminium and stainless steel varieties. Many reusable bottles are made of polycarbonate plastic, but those often contain bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical linked to reproductive problems and heart disease. In response, some polycarbonate-bottle makers have phased out BPA and advertise “BPA-free” products.
Passage A Paragraph 4
Not only does bottled water contribute to excessive waste, it costs us a thousand times more than water from our faucet at home, and it is likely no safer or cleaner, experts say. A 2008 investigation by the non-profit Environmental Working Group found some bottled water is sullied with untested industrial chemicals and may not necessarily be cleaner than tap water. Water aside, the plastic used in single-use bottles can pose more of a contamination threat than the water. However, when the bottles are reused, as they commonly are, they can leach chemicals such as DEHA, a possible human carcinogen, and benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), a potential hormone disruptor. And because the plastic is porous, you will likely get a swill of harmful bacteria with each gulp if you reuse the bottles.
Passage A Paragraph 5
Another major problem with bottled water is that a traditionally public good has been privatized. Bottled water companies gain high profits by drawing water from public water sources, putting it in plastic containers, and reselling it at 2,900 times the price of regular tap water. Some experts argue that the profits from bottled water companies could go towards improving public water supplies and infrastructure – making better water for everyone.
Passage B: Is Online Reading Really Reading?
Passage B Paragraph 1
Books are not Nadia Konyk’s thing. Her mother, hoping to entice her, brings them home from the library, but Nadia rarely shows an interest. Instead, like so many other teenagers, Nadia, 15, is addicted to the Internet. She regularly spends at least six hours a day in front of the computer here in this suburb southwest of Cleveland, America.
Passage B Paragraph 2
Children like Nadia lie at the heart of a passionate debate about just what it means to read in the digital age. Some argue that the hours spent prowling the Internet are the enemy of reading – diminishing literacy, wrecking attention spans and destroying a precious common culture that exists only through the reading of books. But others say the Internet has created a new kind of reading, one that schools and society should not discount. The Web inspires a teenager like Nadia, who might otherwise spend most of her leisure time watching television, to read and write. Some literacy experts say that spending time on the Web, whether it is looking up something on Google or even britneyspears.org, entails some engagement with text.
Passage B Paragraph 3
Clearly, reading in print and on the Internet are different. On paper, text has a predetermined beginning, middle and end, where readers focus for a sustained period on one author’s vision. On the Internet, readers skate through cyberspace at will and, in effect, compose their own beginnings, middles and ends. Some traditionalists warn that digital reading is the equivalent of taking in empty calories. Many youths also spend most of their time on the Internet playing games or sending instant messages, activities that involve minimal reading at best.
Passage B Paragraph 4
Some scientists also worry that the fractured experience typical of the Internet could rob developing readers of crucial skills. “Reading a book, and taking the time to think over and make inferences and engage the imaginational processing, is more enriching, without doubt, than the short little bits that you might get if you’re into the 30-second digital mode,” said Ken Pugh, a neuroscientist at Yale who has studied brain scans of children reading.
Passage B Paragraph 5
Web readers are persistently weak at judging whether information is trustworthy. In one study, Donald J. Leu, who researches literacy and technology at the University of Connecticut, asked 48 students to look at a spoof Web site about a mythical species known as the “Pacific Northwest tree octopus”. Nearly 90 percent of them missed the joke and deemed the site a reliable source. However, Web junkies can occasionally be swept up in a book. After Nadia read Elie Wiesel’s Holocaust memoir, “Night”, in her freshman English class, Ms. Konyk brought home another book, “Silverboy”, a fantasy novel, hoping to keep up the momentum. Nadia made it through one chapter before she got engrossed in the Internet fan fiction again.