Reading comprehension exercise 6
Read the given passage and answer the questions that follow.
Time was when people looked heavenward and prayed, “Ye Gods, give us rain, keep drought away.” Today there are those who pray, “Give us rain, keep EI Nino away.”
EI Nino and its atmospheric equivalent, called the Southern Oscillation, are together referred to as ENSO, and are household words today. Meteorologists recognise it as often being responsible for natural disasters worldwide. But this wisdom dawned only after countries suffered, first from the lack of knowledge, and then from the lack of co-ordination between policy making and the advances in scientific knowledge.
Put simply, EI Nino is a weather event restricted to certain tropical shores, especially the Peruvian coast. The event has diametrically opposite impacts on the land and sea. The Peruvian shore is a desert. But every few years, an unusually warm ocean current- EI Nino – warms up the normally cold surface-waters off the Peruvian coast, causing very heavy rains in the early half of the year.
And then, miraculously, the desert is matted green. Crops like cotton, coconuts and banana grow on the otherwise stubbornly barren land. These are the Peruvians’ anos de abundencia or years of abundance. The current had come to be termed EI Nino, or the Christ Child because it usually appears as an enhancement of a mildly warm current that normally occurs here around every Christmas.
But this boon on land is accompanied by oceanic disasters. Normally, the waters off the South American coast are among the most productive in the world because of a constant up swelling of nutrient –rich cold waters from the ocean depths. During an EI Nino, however waters are stirred up only from near the surface. The nutrient-crunch pushes down primary production, disrupting the food chain.
Many marine species, including anchoveta (anchovies) temporarily disappear.
This is just one damning effect of EI Nino. Over the years its full impact has been studied and what the Peruvians once regarded as manna, is now seen as a major threat.