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  Climate Change and the Inuit

  The threat posed by climate change in the Arctic and the problems faced by Canada’s Inuit people



  A Unusual incidents are being reported across the Arctic. Inuit families going off on snowmobiles to prepare their summer hunting camps have found themselves cut off from home by a sea of mud, following early thaws. There are reports of igloos losing their insulating properties as the snow drips and refreezes, of lakes draining into the sea as permafrost melts, and sea ice breaking up earlier than usual, carrying seals beyond the reach of hunters. Climate change may still be a rather abstract idea to most of us, but in the Arctic it is already having dramatic effects — if summertime ice continues to shrink at its present rate, the Arctic Ocean could soon become virtually ice-free in summer. The knock-on effects are likely to include more warming, cloudier skies, increased precipitation and higher sea levels. Scientists are increasingly keen to find out what’s going on because they consider the Arctic the ‘canary in the mine’ for global warming — a warning of what’s in store for the rest of the world.

  A 据报导,罕见事件在北极各地不断发生。许多因纽特家庭在乘坐雪地汽车离开居住地去为夏季狩猎露营地做准备时,被大片因提早解冻而形成的泥沼隔断了回家的路。相关报道层出不穷,圆顶冰屋的雪砖在融化滴落后又再次冻结,损坏了大量绝缘物品;冻土层融化,使湖水流入海洋;海冰比往年提前破碎,漂流的碎冰将海豹带到了猎人们力所不及的狩猎范围之外。对我们中的大多数人来说,气候变化或许还是一个相当抽象的概念,但在北极地区这已经产生了巨大的影响。如果夏季海冰以现有的速度继续消融,不久之后浮冰就会在夏季的北冰洋上完全消失。气候变化的连锁效应还包括气温升高、云层增厚、降水量增加和海平面升高。科学家们致力于研究气候变化的原因,因为他们认为在全球变暖的进程中,北极是能够警示危险到来的“矿井里的金丝雀”警告着我们北极地区的现状就是全世界的未来。

  B For the Inuit the problem is urgent. They live in precarious balance with one of the toughest environments on earth. Climate change, whatever its causes, is a direct threat to their way of life. Nobody knows the Arctic as well as the locals, which is why they are not content simply to stand back and let outside experts tell them what’s happening. In Canada, where the Inuit people are jealously guarding their hard-won autonomy in the country’s newest territory, Nunavut, they believe their best hope of survival in this changing environment lies in combining their ancestral knowledge with the best of modern science. This is a challenge in itself.

  B 对因纽特人来说,形势非常紧迫,问题亟待解决。他们生活在地球上最艰苦的地方与周围环境保抟着不稳定的平衡。无论造成何种影响,气候变化都是他们生活方式的直接威胁。当地居民比任何人都更加了解北极,因此他们不会简单地满足于自己袖手旁观而让外国专家们告知他们北极的现状。努纳武特地区是加拿大最新成立的特别行政区,当地的因纽特人一直努力维护来之不易的自治权。他们认为在不断变化的环境中,生存的最大希望在于将先人的智慧与先进的现代科学相结合。但这本身就是一个巨大的挑战。

  C The Canadian Arctic is a vast, treeless polar desert that’s covered with snow for most of the year. Venture into this terrain and you get some idea of the hardships facing anyone who calls this home. Farming is out of the question and nature offers meagre pickings. Humans first settled in the Arctic a mere 4,500 years ago, surviving by exploiting sea mammals and fish. The environment tested them to the limits: sometimes the colonists were successful, sometimes they failed and vanished. But around a thousand years ago, one group emerged that was uniquely well adapted to cope with the Arctic environment. These Thule people moved in from Alaska, bringing kayaks, sleds, dogs, pottery and iron tools. They are the ancestors of today’s Inuit people.

  C 加拿大北极区是一片广袤荒芜的极地荒漠,一年中多半时间都被冰雪所覆盖。踏上这片土地,你就会明白以此为家的人们的处境有多么艰苦。农耕种植绝不可能,而可供采摘的食物也寥寥无几。四千五百年前,人类首次在北极地区定居,并且以捕捉海洋哺乳动物和鱼类为生。环境的考验将他们生存的潜力逼迫到了极限:有时他们成功幸存,而有时则遭受失败并灭亡。然而,大约一千年前出现了一个种族,他们以独一无二的方式很好地适应了北极地区的环境。这些图勒人从阿拉斯加迁至北极,并带来了皮艇、雪橇、狗、 陶器和铁质工具。他们是现今因纽特人的祖先。

  D Life for the descendants of the Thule people is still harsh. Nunavut is 1.9 million square kilometres of rock and ice, and a handful of islands around the North Pole. It’s currently home to 2,500 people, all but a handful of them indigenous Inuit. Over the past 40 years, most have abandoned their nomadic ways and settled in the territory’s 28 isolated communities, but they still rely heavily on nature to provide food and clothing. Provisions available in local shops have to be flown into Nunavut on one of the most costly air networks in the world, or brought by supply ship during the few ice-free weeks of summer. It would cost a family around £7,000 a year to replace meat they obtained themselves through hunting with imported meat. Economic opportunities are scarce, and for many people state benefits are their only income.

  D 对图勒人的子钵后代来说,生活依然残酷而艰苦。努纳武特地区包括一百九十万平方公里被岩石和冰雪覆盖的陆地,以及此极点附近的几个岛屿。现在,除了少数几个人之外,该地区两千五百名居民几乎均为因纽特原住民。在过去的四十年中,大多数人都放弃了游牧生活而定居在该地区二十八个相互独立的社区,但他们仍旧主要依赖于大自然来获取食物与衣服。当地商店出售的日常必需品是通过世界上运费最昂贵的航线之一进行运输,或是通过只有在夏季不结冰的几个星期里才能航行的供应船运送进努纳武特地区的。一个家庭每年大约要花费七千英镑才能用进口的肉食来取代他们自己猎取的肉类。在这里,经济机遇极少,政府补助金是许多人唯一的收人来源。

  E While the Inuit may not actually starve if hunting and trapping are curtailed by climate change, there has certainly been an impact on people’s health. Obesity, heart disease and diabetes are beginning to appear in a people for whom these have never before been problems. There has been a crisis of identity as the traditional skills of hunting, trapping and preparing skins have begun to disappear. In Nunavut’s ‘igloo and email’ society, where adults who were born in igloos have children who may never have been out on the land, there’s a high incidence of depression.

  E 即使气候变化阻碍了狩猎和诱捕,因纽特人或许也不会真的挨饿受冻,但气候变化的确影响了人们的健康。人们开始患上肥胖症、心脏病和糖尿病,而这些疾病曾经根本不会对因纽特人的健康构成威胁。随着狩猎、诱捕和剥皮等传统手艺的失传,人们面临着严重的身份危机。在努纳武特地区“圆顶冰星加电子邮件”的社会中,父母出生在冰屋之中,而其子女们或许从来没有到野外狩猎的经历,忧郁症频繁发生。

  F With so much at stake, the Inuit are determined to play a key role in teasing out the mysteries of climate change in the Arctic. Having survived there for centuries, they believe their wealth of traditional knowledge is vital to the task. And Western scientists are starting to draw on this wisdom, increasingly referred to as ‘Intelligence Quotient’, or IQ. ‘In the early days scientists ignored us when they came up here to study anything. They just figured these people don’t know very much so we won’t ask them,’ says John Amagoalik, an Inuit leader and politician. ‘But in recent years IQ has had much more credibility and weight.’ In fact it is now a requirement for anyone hoping to get permission to do research that they consult the communities, who are helping to set the research agenda to reflect their most important concerns. They can turn down applications from scientists they believe will work against their interests, or research projects that will impinge too much on their daily lives and traditional activities.

  F 在情况危急之下,因纽特人决定在解开北极地区气候变化之谜的过程中发挥关键作用。因纽特人在当地生活了几百年,他们相信传统知识的财富对于这项任务的完成至关重要。西方的科学家们也开始逐渐吸收借鉴传统知识,并将其称为“因纽特智慧”或IQ。因纽特首领兼政治家约翰?阿玛高利克说:“在科学家们来到这里展开研究工作的初期,他们忽视我们的存在。他们或许这样认为:反正因纽特人懂得的知识也不多,我们为什么要向他们请教呢?但是近年来,IQ已经逐渐显示出其可信度和重要性。”事实上,现在任何人若想得到在努纳武特地区开展科学研究的许可,都必须咨询当地社区,而社区则会协助安排研究日程,并在日程安排中反映出其关心的重要问题。他们可以拒绝可能损害社区利益的科研申请,或者否决可能严重影响当地居民日常生活和传统活动的科研项目。

  G Some scientists doubt the value of traditional knowledge because the occupation of the Arctic doesn’t go back far enough. Others, however, point out that the first weather stations in the far north date back just 50 years. There are still huge gaps in our environmental knowledge, and despite the scientific onslaught, many predictions are no more than best guesses. IQ could help to bridge the gap and resolve the tremendous uncertainty about how much of what we’re seeing is natural capriciousness and how much is the consequence of human activity.

  G 某些科学家质疑传统知识的价值,认为因纽特人在北极地区居住的时间太短。除此之外,另一些人指出北极地区第一批气象站也仅仅是五十年前才建立的。现今,我们的环境知识还很匮乏,即使以科学的发展为依据,许多预测也不过是大胆的猜测而巳。IQ能够填补我们现有环境知识的空白,并且能够解决一个巨大的疑问,即我们所见的现象是自然环境的反复无常还是人类活动的必然后果。


















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