Which is the world's highest, driest, coldest and windiest continent? Which is the only place on earth not yet ruined, still untouched by the destructive hand of man? Australasia? Or "the ice", as Antarctica is referred to by its old friends? Of course, the former still has 5 large areas as yet untouched, but nothing like the huge virgin expanses of "the ice".
Now, the virgin continent has become the source of yet another conflict between scientists and environmentalists. The latter believe that 10 Antarctica must be maintained as such and that scientists should be careful not to leave behind anything that might damage the environment. Scientists say that limited local environmental impact has to be expected and accepted, because the continent is an important natural laboratory for estimating the effects humans have on the globe, even 15 functioning as a kind of early-warning system for the whole planet.
There is a treaty designed to protect this continent which has only 8,000 inhabitants and most of them not permanent , but contains 70% of the world's fresh water. Oil and minerals cannot be exploited, 20 but what controls are there on the growing number of scientists, explorers and even tourists?
1. What is the main topic of the passage?
2. According to the passage what is the main reason for the conflict between the scientists and the environmentalists?
3. What cannot be said about Antarctica?
4. Which of the following can people still do in Antarctica?
5. What can be inferred from the passage?
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