Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Passage- Identify the tone

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Directions: read the passage and recognise the tone of the discussion.


One of the most important of the natural sponges that soak up carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is working 30 percent less efficiently than a quarter of a century ago. The Southern Ocean is responsible for soaking up the annual CO2 contribution of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands combined, but the study shows that the ocean is absorbing the same quantity of the gas as it was 24 years ago. Scientists had expected that the amount of CO2 absorbed would increase in line with rising levels in the atmosphere. The change is due to increased winds over the ocean linked to climate change and the depleted ozone layer. This is serious. All climate models predict that this kind of ‘feedback’ will continue and intensify during this century. The so called carbon sinks such as the oceans, vegetation and soils soak up around half of the extra CO2 we are pumping into the atmosphere each year. The Southern Ocean alone is responsible for parcelling up to 0.7 billion tones a year and storing it in the deep.

Since the 1980s the Southern Ocean sink for carbon has not changed at all, although CO2 emissions over the same period has increased. It is expected that as the emissions and the CO2 in the atmosphere have increased, the Southern Ocean sink should also increase. The scientists believe the reason for the change is an increase in average wind speed across the ocean. More water circulation and mixing bring colder water up from the depths that is saturated with CO2, so that it cannot accept any more from the atmosphere. The increase in wind speed is partly a consequence of climate change itself. The world is warming unevenly and pressure differences between different regions are increasing wind speed in the Southern Ocean. The depletion of the ozone layer has also contributed to higher winds.

Which of the following most accurately summarises the tone of the passage?

A. Unbiased description

B. Guarded disapproval

C. Subtle criticism

D. Glaring pessimism

E. Authoritative exposition

Option analysis

The answer is A

The author is describing a natural phenomenon as it is. Though there is cause for concern, one cannot call it pessimism. Since the information is accompanied by empirical evidence it cannot be considered ‘reasoning by authority’, therefore not E.

Here’s a list of tone terms.

Objective assessment: (dispassionate / disinterested presentation)
The author reacts to a piece of work not influenced by personal feelings or prejudice. Assessing a piece of work based on its own inherent reality than by the evaluator’s whims and fancies; judgment done for the intrinsic criteria of the work itself

Biased interpretation: (subjective / prejudiced)
An author’s opinion or feeling that strongly
favours one side of an argument, sometimes unfairly

Skepticism: This would imply criticism, doubt or questioning the logic of an argument. This expresses the author’s disagreement with a hypothesis, idea, proposition, finding of a study and the like

Pointed disagreement: Sharp criticism / unrelenting criticism; the author disagrees with an idea completely. There will be explicit statements in the passage denoting this

Qualified admiration: (Limited / restricted endorsement)
Here the author is quite specific in his approval; he admires the person / idea discussed for certain qualities and may be critical of certain other aspects

Grudging respect / approval: This is characterized by unwillingness from the part of the author to concede completely to the idea; he expresses his opinion reluctantly

Optimism / hope: The author would express hope and expectation in say, solving a problem, implementing a recommendation

Enthusiastic endorsement: The author wholeheartedly approves of the idea and / or supports the findings, recommendations or propositions

Eulogy: Extreme praise for a person referred to or topic of discussion

Satirical: The author expresses scorn / ridicule / derision; he laughs at ideas or people

Ironical: The author uses words to convey the opposite meaning of what he expresses. One thing is said and its opposite is implied

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