16. Reading Skills Comprehension: CONTRAPTION


1. Everybody is talking about it, doing a little about it, and contributing a great deal towards making it worse. Here I am writing about it, wondering what best I can do to save the world while my air conditioner blasts in cool air, and in using such a contraption. I am silently but surely aiding and abetting the killing of this planet. The world is turning into one large microwave, spinning all that heat around that will eventually nuke us all out of existence.

2.But can we really save the world? It’s a tall order by any standards, but maybe little drops of water do add up and amount to something. I mean the little bits of CFC and noxious gases did amount to something significant enough to damage the ozone layer, right? So the reverse must also be true. If we do something right, it might just make things a little better.

3. Fortunately, alarm bells are ringing across the world and the wealthier countries, who incidentally started it in the first place, are fast realising how environmentally destructive consumerism is turning out to be. Reminds me of the old adage of the cat who ate a hundred mice and then wanted to go on a pilgrimage.

4. A documentary I saw recently called The Inconvenient Truth proved to be quite informative and provoking. Apparently, it is not the heat coming in through the atmosphere that creates global warming but also the heat that stays trapped on the earth as a result of layers of carbon that prevent the heat from escaping. This results in warming up and melting down of the ice in the poles, sending the sea temperature up. Also, the water from the melted ice will eventually drown most coastal cities. This is something we all know about. We also know what needs to be done to prevent a disaster. Burn less fossil fuel, consume less natural resources, etc.

5. But what really prevents us from carrying out these measures? It’s just plain bad habits. We want our rooms to be cool but our water to be hot. We have the water heaters switched on and our air conditioner at freezing temperatures. Most offices need to keep their temperatures below 20 degrees otherwise their computers will fail. So while some shiver and wear jackets in mid-summer, others are dying of heat waves caused by this very wanton consumption. We want things cooler or we want things warmer. We want to get from Point A to Point B faster, but we don’t want to get to the television plug switch to turn it off at night. We don’t want to walk so we have cars. We drive in those cars to the gym so that we can walk on a treadmill.

6. Ours is clearly a culture of self-destruction. Nothing else can explain our wasteful lifestyles. We are also building values around artificial needs and horribly skewed assumptions of what constitutes wealth and a sense of well-being.


 Para 1. 1. Contraption (noun): device, gadget 2. Abetting (verb): to help in doing something bad 3. Eventually (adverb): in the end 4. Nuke (verb): destroy 5. Existence (noun): the state of being 6. Spinning (verb): to produce

 Para 2. 1. Noxious (adjective): harmful 2. Damage (verb): harm 3. Reverse (noun): opposite

Para 3. 1. Alarm (noun): danger 2. Consumerism (noun): the preoccupation of society with the acquisition of goods 3. Adage (noun): a wise saying 4. Pilgrimage (noun): a journey to a holy place 5. Incidentally (adverb): by the way

 Para 4. 1. Documentary (adjective): a short film of factual account 2. Provoking (adjective): to stimulate or arouse 3. Escaping (noun): an act of going free 4. Disaster (noun): calamity, ill luck 5. fossil (noun): petrified remains 6. Fuel (noun): the thing that can be burnt to make a fire

Para 5. 1. Carrying out (idiom): to do as directed 2. Measures (noun): ways 3. Wanton (adjective): undisciplined 4. Treadmill (noun): a device used for exercising consisting of a continuous moving belt on which people walk or run

 Para 6. 1. Skewed (adjective): distorted 2. Assumption (noun): the act of supposing


1. Choose the correct option:

(a) Ours is definitely a culture of ……………….

(i) self-appeasement               (ii) self-dependence

(iii) self-destruction                (iv) self-confidence

(b) For our wasteful lifestyle,……………….. 

(i) God is responsible              (ii) our parents are responsible

(iii) our country is responsible (iv) we, ourselves are responsible

(c) What prevents heat from escaping into the atmosphere?

(i) Oxygen       (ii) Nitrogen    (iii) Carbon dioxide     (iv) Sulphur

 (d) What does CFC stand for?

(i) Carbon for carbon              (ii) Chorine florin carbon

(iii) Chlorofluorocarbon          (iv) A neutral substance

(e) What does the word ‘wanton’ used in the passage mean?

 (i) wasteful                 (ii) wealthy

(iii) undisciplined        (iv) useless

 (f) Select a word similar in meaning for the word ‘adage’.

 (i) at the edge            (ii) adding

 (iii) advantage                        (iv) idiom

2.Answer the questions briefly:

 (a) The situation of global warming is bad but it is worsening. Who is responsible?

 (b) How has consumerism proved to be a curse?

 (c) What prevents heat from escaping into the atmosphere?

 (d) How can the environment be saved from further degradation? 

(e) Why is ‘ours’, a culture of self-destruction?

(f) ‘nuke us all’ means…………… 


1.(a) iii               (b) iv           (c) iii          (d) iii           (e) iii            (f) iv

2.(a) We, ourselves are responsible for worsening the situation of global warming on the earth. (b) Consumerism has proved to be a curse as it is environmentally destructive. We want our offices to be super cool and water to be hot. Rampant use of cars, geysers and air conditioners is destroying the environment.

(c) Carbon dioxide is the real culprit that prevents heat from escaping into the atmosphere.

(d) The judicious burning of fossil fuel and less consumption of natural resources can save the environment from further degradation.

(e) We have a culture of self-destruction because our values are built on artificiality and distorted versions of what a sense of well-being and wealth is made up of. We buy all luxury gadgets like A.Cs, cars etc. Without giving a thought to our environment.

(f) destroy us all

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