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剑桥雅思13Test4Passage2阅读原文翻译 Saving the soil 拯救土壤 剑桥雅思13阅读 […]


剑桥雅思13Test4Passage2阅读原文翻译 Saving the soil 拯救土壤



剑桥雅思13Test4Passage2阅读答案解析 Saving the soil 拯救土壤

剑桥雅思13 Test4 Passage2阅读原文翻译


More than a third of the world’s soil is endangered, according to a recent UN report. If we don’t slow the decline, all farmable soil could be gone in 60 years. Since soil grows 95% of our food, and sustains human life in other more surprising ways, that is a huge problem.



Peter Groffman, from the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in New York, points out that soil scientists have been warning about the degradation of the world’s soil for decades. At the same time, our understanding of its importance to humans has grown. A single gram of healthy soil might contain 100 million bacteria, as well as other microorganisms such as viruses and fungi, living amid decomposing plants and various minerals.

来自纽约卡里生态系统研究所的Peter Groffman指出,土壤科学家在过去数十年间一直在对世界土壤的退化发出警告。与此同时,我们关于土壤对人类重要性的理解也在增加。仅仅一克健康的土壤就可能包含1个亿的细菌和其他微生物,比如病毒和真菌。它们存在于腐烂的植物和各种矿物质中。

That means soils do not just grow our food, but are the source of nearly all our existing antibiotics, and could be our best hope in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Soil is also an ally against climate change: as microorganisms within soil digest dead animals and plants, they lock in their carbon content, holding three times the amount of carbon as does the entire atmosphere. Soils also store water, preventing flood damage: in the UK, damage to buildings, roads and bridges from floods caused by soil degradation costs £233 million every year.



If the soil loses its ability to perform these functions, the human race could be in big trouble. The danger is not that the soil will disappear completely, but that the microorganisms that give it its special properties will be lost. And once this has happened, it may take the soil thousands of years to recover.


Agriculture is by far the biggest problem. In the wild, when plants grow they remove nutrients from the soil, but then when the plants die and decay these nutrients are returned directly to the soil. Humans tend not to return unused parts of harvested crops directly to the soil to enrich it, meaning that the soil gradually becomes less fertile. In the past we developed strategies to get around the problem, such as regularly varying the types of crops grown, or leaving fields uncultivated for a season.



But these practices became inconvenient as populations grew and agriculture had to be run on more commercial lines. A solution came in the early 20th century with the Haber-Bosch process for manufacturing ammonium nitrate. Farmers have been putting this synthetic fertiliser on their fields ever since.


But over the past few decades, it has become clear this wasn’t such a bright idea. Chemical fertilisers can release polluting nitrous oxide into the atmosphere and excess is often washed away with the rain, releasing nitrogen into rivers. More recently, we have found that indiscriminate use of fertilisers hurts the soil itself, turning it acidic and salty, and degrading the soil they are supposed to nourish.



One of the people looking for a solution to this problem is Pius Floris, who started out running a tree-care business in the Netherlands, and now advises some of the world’s top soil scientists. He came to realise that the best way to ensure his trees flourished was to take care of the soil, and has developed a cocktail of beneficial bacteria, fungi and humus [Humus: the part of the soil formed from dead plant material] to do this. Researchers at the University of Valladolid in Spain recently used this cocktail on soils destroyed by years of fertiliser overuse. When they applied Floris’s mix to the desert-like test plots, a good crop of plants emerged that were not just healthy at the surface, but had roots strong enough to pierce dirt as hard as rock. The few plants that grew in the control plots, fed with traditional fertilisers, were small and weak.

Pius Floris在荷兰经营者一家树木护理公司,他是寻求这一问题解决办法的人之一,并为一些世界顶级的土壤科学家提供建议。他意识到,确保其树木旺盛生长的最好办法是照顾好土壤。他开发了一种有益细菌、真菌和腐殖质的混合物来实现这一目的。西班牙巴利亚多利德大学的研究者们最近给一些因常年过度使用化肥而遭到破坏的土壤使用了这种混合物。当他们将Floris的混合物用在沙漠般的实验区域时,长出的植物不仅表面健康,而且还有足以穿透岩石版坚硬的泥土强壮根系。而种植在控制区域、施以传统化肥的少量植物则细小而脆弱。


However, measures like this are not enough to solve the global soil degradation problem. To assess our options on a global scale we first need an accurate picture of what types of soil are out there, and the problems they face. That’s not easy. For one thing, there is no agreed international system for classifying soil. In an attempt to unify the different approaches, the UN has created the Global Soil Map project. Researchers from nine countries are working together to create a map linked to a database that can be fed measurements from field surveys, drone surveys, satellite imagery, lab analyses and so on to provide real-time data on the state of the soil. Within the next four years, they aim to have mapped soils worldwide to a depth of 100 metres, with the results freely accessible to all.



But this is only a first step. We need ways of presenting the problem that bring it home to governments and the wider public, says Pamela Chasek at the International Institute for Sustainable Development, in Winnipeg, Canada. ‘Most scientists don’t speak language that policy-makers can understand, and vice versa.’ Chasek and her colleagues have proposed a goal of ‘zero net land degradation’. Like the idea of carbon neutrality, it is an easily understood target that can help shape expectations and encourage action.

但这仅仅是第一步。我们需要能让政府和更广大的公众意识到这一问题的呈现方法,来自加拿大温尼伯国际可持续发展研究所的Pamela Chasek说。“大多数科学家所使用的语言并不能为政策制定者所理解,反过来也是如此”。Chasek和她的同事提出“净土地退化为零”的目标。就像碳平衡的理念一样,它是一个非常容易被理解的目标,能够帮助塑造人们的期待,并鼓励具体行动。

For soils on the brink, that may be too late. Several researchers are agitating for the immediate creation of protected zones for endangered soils. One difficulty here is defining what these areas should conserve: areas where the greatest soil diversity is present? Or areas of unspoilt soils that could act as a future benchmark of quality?


Whatever we do, if we want our soils to survive, we need to take action now.


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