四六级阅读材料“我们对垃圾的爱——垃圾成堆”选自《经济学人》

appleyang 2012-07-065038阅读
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   本篇阅读材料“我们对垃圾的爱——垃圾成堆”选自《经济学人》(原文标题:Our love of garbage Rubbish heaps 2012.4.14)
 
  ALTHOUGH it is the buried tombs and the lost cities that get all the press, one of the most valuable things that an archaeologist can dig up is rubbish. Palace murals and heroic statues record the sanitised, official version of history, but a society's garbage tells the true story of how its members lived.

  With that thought in mind, archaeologists of the future are in for a treat. The industrial societies of the world's developed countries are the most wasteful ever, their spoor turning up in every corner of the Earth. Almost by definition, waste is something that most people prefer not to think too much about. But Edward Humes, an American journalist, is fascinated by the stuff. “Garbology” is his attempt to make sense of our historically unprecedented readiness to throw things away.

  The book begins at the Puente Hills landfill, an artificial mountain near Los Angeles. It is the biggest dump in America, 30 years old, 150 metres high and containing 130m tonnes of rubbish within a 700-acre footprint. If it were a building, it would be among the 20 tallest in the city. Building a rubbish pile is, it turns out, surprisingly high-tech. The mountain is a giant, putrid layer-cake, with dozens of strata of rubbish separated by soil and plastic liners designed to contain the brew of noxious chemicals that would otherwise leach into groundwater. The rot produces methane, which is collected via a network of pipes that penetrate the mountain, and burned to produce electricity.

  From there, Mr Humes traces the history of garbage in America, beginning with New York's “White Wings”, an army of municipal rubbish collectors created to clean the city's stinking streets in the 19th century, through the heyday of backyard incinerators (and the smog they produced) to the modern day, where the most common solutions often involve burying the stuff in the ground or dumping it in the sea. He talks to the researchers who are chronicling the plasticisation of the oceans, a swelling suspended solution of pulverised plastic. And he describes the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an enormous expanse of the Pacific Ocean where currents concentrate the trash over a continent-sized area.

  The author is just as interested in the creation of rubbish as its disposal. But whereas few will disagree with the gist of his observations about the shortcomings of our modern, disposable, consumer culture, the analysis is rather superficial. Mr Humes comes close to blaming a single man—J. Gordon Lippincott, an industrial designer—for the creation of the entire wasteful model of modern consumerism. And although it is understandable that an American author should write a book looking mostly at the problems of America, it nevertheless feels like a missed opportunity. Some of the most interesting parts of the book come towards the end, where he discusses some of the possible solutions—such as Denmark's strategy of burning rubbish to produce electricity, or an Irish scheme to charge shoppers for plastic bags, which led to a 90% drop in their use. Food for thought, and more.

  【重点单词及短语】
  dig up 挖出;掘起;开垦;发现
  Palace mural 宫廷壁画
  heroic statue 英雄雕像
  in for a treat 会喜欢的
  spoor n. 足迹;痕迹
  turn up 出现;发生
  by definition 按照定义;显然地;当然地
  make sense of 了解……的意义;理解;懂得
  unprecedented adj. 空前的;无前例的
  readiness n. 敏捷;准备
  putrid adj. 腐败的;腐烂的;令人厌恶的
  strata n. 层;阶层
  noxious adj. 有害的;有毒的
  leach v. 渗入;渗透
  methane n. 甲烷
  penetrate v. 渗透;穿透
  heyday n. 全盛时期
  chronicle v. 记录;把…载入编年史 n. 编年史,年代记;记录
  gist n. 主旨;要点

  Question time:
  1. What's the difference between Palace murals, heroic statues and rubbish with regard to history?

  2. Can you list the ways that we deal with rubbish according to the passage?

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