Modern urbanization, as we all know, is a very recent thing. Although the first cities arose some 5,000 to 6,000 years ago, the kind of metropolis or megapolis which we now accept as “normal” is a good deal less than a hundred years old.
Kingsley Davis, one of the best known students of the subject, said a few years ago: “Urbanized societies, in which the majority of people live crowded together in towns and cities, represent a new and fundamental step in man’s social evolution. Clearly, the world as a whole is not fully urbanized, but it soon will be”. Frankly speaking, this spine-chilling prediction doesn’t arouse any positive emotions. At present seventy percent of the citizens of the United States, and comparable proportions in other industrial countries, live in cities occupying little over one percent of the total land space. This astonishing phenomenon became possible thanks to the tremendous development of modern science and engineering. People of the 21st century enjoy conveniences and comforts unimaginable some hundreds years ago. But every stick has two ends and modern civilization along with great conveniences and comforts gave birth to no less great problems that mankind confronts nowadays. And they are felt most acutely in megapolises.
The greatest of them is all kinds of pollution: land, air, water, noise. Where many people live together, there is always a problem of litter. Litter is garbage on the ground or in the street. About one third of the litter is packaging, that’s why some companies have begun to use a lesser quantity of packaging and replace plastic with paper. How long do you think litter lasts? A traffic ticket decays for about 1 month, a wool sock — 1 year, tin cans decay approximately for 100 years, plastic bottles — 500 years and glass containers — never.
Another source of pollution is industrial enterprises and traffic. The results of their activities poison the land, air and water. The consequences are as follows: we eat unhealthy food, breathe the air that contains dozens of toxic substances, drink bad water. The level of noise in big cities exceeds the norm several times. All this results in elimination of healthy biological habitat and no wonder that the health of our contemporaries leaves much to be desired despite the excellent medicine we have.
The car is a token of our civilization. We can’t imagine our lives without it, can we? But do you remember the story of Frankenstein, the professor, who created a monster that eventually led to his own destruction? It can so happen that mass-produced car, which was born in the early part of the twentieth century, is set to strangle us in the twenty-first! The car has had an awful impact on modern life. Lives in cities have become miserable because of traffic jams, noise, car exhaust and numerous accidents. The car pollutes environment while being produced, it endangers nature while being used and even the utilization of old cars threatens our health. And furthermore the deposits of oil resources are not boundless. What will happen to all these vehicles on our roads and streets when oil and coal supplies exhaust? So time has come to think of new types of engines and propellants to replace the now existing.
Another great threat for megapolises is global warming. Most big cities such as New York, Tokyo, London, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco are located near ocean coastlines. In case the level of the ocean waters rises five or more meters they will disappear under the waters.
The people, who now inhabit the Earth, should think better before using all the ephemeral goods that our civilization provides us with. A life-style which puts primary emphasis on increasing the consumption of goods and services creates innumerable problems of pollution, tends to ruin the environment, hence the humanity itself. It would be wise to give the problems the humanity faces calm forethought, to put the main emphasis on the creation of permanent goods, that is to say, lasting improvements of the environment, excellent tools and equipment, health of soil, plants, animals and people, work opportunities which can be genuinely enjoyed, beautiful villages, towns and cities. Such a life-style would not require an economic system which, like today’s, would arouse insolvable problems. But it would make people really happy.
III. Answer the following questions.
1) How old are megapolises?
2) How many people in industrial countries live in big cities?
3) What made the existence of megapolises possible?
4) What are the problems which megapolises face?
5) How long does it take tin cans to decay?
6) What phenomena further the destruction of man’s habitat?
7) What impact does the car have on modern cities ?
8) Why is it high time to think of new types of cars?
9) What does global warming threaten megapolises with?
10) What way out of the established situation is suggested in the text?
IV. Match the two parts of the sentences.
1) The world as a whole is not fully urbanized…
2) This horrifying prediction doesn’t arouse…
3) Modern civilization gave birth…
4) One third of the litter…
5) The level of noise in big cities exceeds…
6) Lives in cities have become miserable because of…
7) The supplies of oil are not…
8) It would be wise to pay the greatest attention to…
a) …any positive emotions.
b) …to great ecological problems.
c) …the norm several times.
d) …but it soon will be.
e) …the creation of permanent goods.
g) …traffic jams.
h) …is packaging.
V. Choose the correct option according to the text to complete the sentences.
1) Modern urbanization is a very … thing.
a) fast b) good c) recent d) unpleasant
2) The phenomenon of megapolises became possible … the development of science and engineering.
a) due to b) despite c) thank d) because
3) People of the 21st century enjoy comforts … some hundreds years ago.
a) possible b) unimaginable c) attractive d) desirable
4) Litter is … on the ground or in the street.
a) paper b) packets c) dirt d) garbage
5) Some companies have begun to … plastic with paper.
a) replace b) use c) produce d) utilize
6) Another … of pollution is traffic.
a) problem b) source c) solution d) supply
7) We breathe the air that contains a lot of toxic …
a) matters b) things c) substances d) elements
8) The level of noise in megapolises … the norm several times.
a) exceed b) prevails c) extends d) exceeds
9) We can’t imagine our lives … cars.
a) with b) in c) without d) out
10) The mass-produced car is set to … us in the 21st century.
a) string b) startle c) strive d) strangle
11) The car … environment on every stage of its existence.
a) enriches b) pollutes c) threatens d) decays
12) Gasoline vehicles will stop running when the supplies of oil …
a) exhaust b) exhausts c) limit d) discover
13) People use … goods that the civilization provides them with.
a) comfortable b) ephemeral c) high quality d) expensive
14) … problems of pollution tend to ruin the environment.
a) Innumerable b) horrible c) important d) incurable