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新版大学英语综合教程第四册 UNIT8-2

  UNIT 8

  Protecting Our Environment

  Part I Pre-Reading Task

  Listen to the recording two or three times and then think over the following questions:

  1. What kind of paradise is described in the song?

  2. Why do people have to pay to see the trees?

  3. What would happen if farmers continued to use DDT?

  4. What is the theme of the song?

  The following words in the recording may be new to you:

  pink

  a. 粉红色的

  boutique

  n. 时装店

  hot spot

  n. (sl.) nightclub 夜总会

  insect

  n. 昆虫

  Part II

  Text A

  Protecting nature certainly has benefits, but it has costs as well. How are we to balance the two when deciding how far we should go in caring for the environment?

  SAVING NATURE, BUT ONLY FOR MAN

  Charles Krauthammer

  Environmental sensitivity is now as required an attitude in polite society as is, belief in democracy or aversion to nylon. But now that everyone has claims to love Mother Earth, how are we to choose among the dozens of conflicting proposals, restrictions, projects, regulations and laws advanced in the name of the environment? Clearly not everything with an environmental claim is worth doing. How to choose?

  There is a simple way. First, distinguish between environmental luxuries and environmental necessities. Luxuries are those things it would be nice to have if costless. Necessities are those things we must have regardless. Then apply a rule. Call it the fundamental principle of sensible environmentalism: Combating ecological change that directly threatens the health and safety of people is an environmental necessity. All else is luxury.

  For example: preserving the atmosphere, by both protecting the ozone layer and halting the greenhouse effect, is an environmental necessity. In April scientists reported that ozone damage is far worse than previously thought. Ozone reduction not only causes skin cancer and eye cataracts, it also destroys plankton, the beginning of the food chain on top of which we humans sit.

  The reality of the greenhouse effect is more speculative, though its possible consequences are far deadlier: melting ice caps, flooded coastlines, disturbed climate, dried up plains and, ultimately, empty breadbaskets. The American Midwest feeds the world. Are we prepared to see Iowa acquire Albuquerque's climate? And Siberia acquire Iowa's?

  Ozone reduction and the greenhouse effect are human disasters. They happen to occur in the environment. But they are urgent because they directly threaten man. A sensible environmentalism, the only kind of environmentalism that will win universal public support, begins by unashamedly declaring that nature is here to serve man. A sensible environmentalism is entirely man-centered: it calls for man to preserve nature, but on the grounds of self-preservation.

  A sensible environmentalism does not sentimentalize the earth. It does not ask people to sacrifice in the name of other creatures. After all, it is hard enough to ask people to sacrifice in the name of other humans. (Think of the public resistance to foreign aid and welfare.) Ask hardworking voters to sacrifice in the name of the snail darter, and, if they are feeling polite, they will give you a shrug.

  Of course, this man-centeredness runs against the grain of a contemporary environmentalism that worships the earth to the point of excess. One scientific theory — Gaia theory — actually claims that Earth is a living organism. This kind of environmentalism likes to consider itself spiritual. It is nothing more than sentimental. It takes, for example, a highly selective view of the kindliness of nature. My nature worship stops with the May storms that killed more than 125,000 Bengalis and left 10 million homeless.

  A non-sentimental environmentalism is one founded on Protagoras' principle that "Man is the measure of all things." Such a principle helps us to fight our way through the jungle of environmental argument. Take the current debate raging over oil drilling in a corner of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. Environmentalists, fighting against a bill working its way through Congress to permit such exploration, argue that we should be conserving energy instead of drilling for it. This is a false either/or proposition. The country does need a substantial energy tax to reduce consumption. But it needs more production too. Government estimates indicate a nearly fifty-fifty chance that under the ANWR lies one of the five largest oil fields ever discovered in America.

  We have just come through a war fought in part over oil: Energy dependence costs Americans not just dollars but lives. It is a ridiculous sentimentalism that would deny ourselves oil that is peacefully attainable because it risks disrupting the breeding grounds of Arctic reindeer.

  I like the reindeer as much as the next man. And I would be rather sorry if their mating patterns are disturbed. But you can't have everything. And if the choice is between the welfare of reindeer and reducing oil dependence that gets people killed in wars, I choose man over reindeer every time.

  Similarly the spotted owl. I am no enemy of the owl. If it could be preserved at no or little cost, I would agree: the variety of nature is a good, a high aesthetic good. But it is no more than that. And sometimes aesthetic goods have to be sacrificed to the more fundamental ones. If the cost of preserving the spotted owl is the loss of livelihood for 30,000 logging families, I choose family over owl.

  The important distinction is between those environmental goods that are fundamental and those that are merely aesthetic. Nature is our charge. It is not our master. It is to be respected and even cultivated. But it is man's world. And when man has to choose between his well-being and that of nature, nature will have to accommodate.

  Man should accommodate only when his fate and that of nature are bound up together. The most urgent accommodation must be made when the very integrity of man's environment — e.g., atmospheric ozone — is threatened. When the threat to man is of a lesser order (say, the pollutants from coal- and oil-fired generators that cause death from disease but not fatal damage to the ecosystem), a more moderate accommodation that balances economic against health concerns is in order. But in either case the principle is the same: protect the environment — because it is man's environment.

  The sentimental environmentalists will call this saving nature with a totally wrong frame of mind. Exactly. A sensible — a humanistic — environmentalism does it not for nature's sake but for our own.

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