Before reading the passage, answer the questions.
1. What are the main differences between city life and country life?
2. Which do you like better? City life or country life? Why?
Now read the passage and compare your answers with the author's.
Back to Nature
1 For centuries town and country have been regarded as being in opposition to each other. It has been suggested that the superficial differences between the two -- wide-open spaces contrasting with brick and concrete -- are less important than the contrasting attitudes towards town and country.
2 I am one of the many city people who are always saying that given the choice we would prefer to live in the country away from the dirt and noise of a large city. I have managed to convince myself that if it weren't for my job I would immediately head out for the open spaces and go back to nature in some sleepy village buried in the country. But how realistic is this dream?
3 Cities can be frightening places. The majority of the population live in massive tower blocks, noisy, dirty and impersonal. The sense of belonging to a community tends to disappear when you live fifteen floors up. All you can see from your window is sky, or other blocks of flats. Children become aggressive and nervous -- cooped up at home all day, with nowhere to play; their mothers feel isolated from the rest of the world. Strangely enough, whereas in the past the inhabitants of one street all knew each other, nowadays people on the same floor in tower blocks don't even say hello to each other.
4 Country life, on the other hand, differs from this kind of isolated existence in that a sense of community generally binds the inhabitants of small villages together. People have the advantage of knowing that there is always someone to turn to when they need help. But country life has disadvantages too. While it is true that you may be among friends in a village, it is also true that you are cut off from the exciting and important events that take place in cities. There's little possibility of going to a new show or the latest movie. Shopping becomes a major problem, and for anything slightly out of the ordinary you have to go on an expedition to the nearest large town. The city-dweller who leaves for the country is often oppressed by a sense of unbearable stillness and quiet.
5 What, then, is the answer? The country has the advantage of peace and quiet, but suffers from the disadvantage of being cut off; the city breeds neurosis and a feeling of isolation -- constant noise batters the senses. But one of its main advantages is that you are at the centre of things, and that life doesn't come to an end at half-past nine at night. Some people have found (or rather bought) a compromise between the two; they have expressed their preference for the "quiet life" by leaving the suburbs and moving to villages within commuting distance of the large conurbations. They generally have about as much sensitivity as the plastic flowers they leave behind -- they are polluted with strange ideas about change and improvement which they force on to the unwilling original inhabitants of the villages.
6 What then of my dreams of leaning on a cottage gate, chewing a piece of grass and murmuring "mornin"' to the locals as they pass. I'm keen on the idea, but you see there's my cat, Toby. I'm not at all sure that he would take to all that fresh air and exercise in the long grass. I mean, can you see him mixing with all those hearty males down on the farm? No, he would rather have the electric imitation-coal fire any evening.
a. of or on the surface only 表面的
contrastv. to compare so that differences are made clear 比较,对比
a. definite 明确的
v. to make someone believe or feel certain 使...信服,使相信
a. not involving human emotions 没有人情味的,冷漠的
v. 将...禁锢(在狭小空间), 监禁
ad. not anywhere; (in, at or to) no place 无处
v. to separate, put or keep apart from others 使隔离,使孤立
a. 孤独的, 与世隔绝的
conj. but in contrast; while on the other hand 然而,但是
ad. now 当今,现在
n. an unfavourable condition 不利条件
a. small; not serious or important 轻微的,不重要的
n. a journey or voyage for a definite purpose (为特定目的而作的)旅行,远征
v. to cause to feel troubled, uncomfortable 使烦恼,使难受
a. that cannot be endured 不能忍受的,忍无可忍的
v. 1. to be the cause of 引起,造成
n. (pl. neuroses) 神经(官能)症,恐惧症
n. isolating or being isolated 隔离,孤立
n. a special liking for one thing over another 偏爱
n. improving or being improved 改进,提高
v. to rest against something to support one's weight 倚,靠
v. to say something very quietly, or in a low voice 低声说
n. (=morning) 早晨,上午
a. 1. strong, and healthy 强健的,健康的
2. (of feelings) sincere (指感情)诚恳的
Phrases and Expressions
in opposition to 与...相反,反对
cut off (from)
out of the ordinary
at the centre of
come to an end
be keen on
Before reading the passage, consider the questions.
1. Which of the following cities has the largest population?
B. New York.
C. Mexico City.
2. How many people will a largest city have in the future?
A. 50 million.
B. 100 million.
C. One billion.
Now read the passage and compare your answers with the author's.
Huge Cities of the Future
1 By the end of the next century, a single city may have more than 100 million inhabitants. Eventually, there may be cities with more than a billion residents.
2 This frightens planners struggling to cope with today's metropolises. But large cities could offer more benefits than problems. Under favorable conditions, a city with a billion inhabitants could be a very pleasant and exciting place to live.
3 Still, one must sympathize with planners' anxieties. The world's largest city -- Mexico City -- now has 18 million people and a huge array of problems. Smog blankets the city. Traffic noise turns citizens deaf. The subway becomes jammed. Millions of Mexico City's people live without running water or electricity.
4 Even so, Mexico City continues to look good to the rural peasants who pour into the city. The city will have more than 26 million residents by the year 2000, according to the United Nations Fund for Population Activities.
5 Pessimists believe further population growth will eventually cause a virtual collapse of public services in many cities. Potholes, unrepaired bridges, and other problems will make streets impassable to motor vehicles, so bicycles and animal-drawn vehicles will prevail.
6 But optimists see the current problems of expanding cities as merely part of an evolutionary process. London and New York had similar problems but were able eventually to establish an orderly and safe environment for their citizens. Today, many wealthy people who could live anywhere in the world choose to live in those cities, even though they continue to have many problems.
7 But can the huge cities of the future really function without overloading all their services to the point of collapse and destroying the environment through pollution of air and water?
8 The answer, I believe, is yes. A city of one billion could provide a very desirable place for people to live and not even seem crowded.
9 Here's how Billion City might work:
10 It would be completely three-dimensional, with many levels of activity. Today's cities operate largely on a single plane -- the ground. The result is traffic jams, frequent accidents, and often unpleasant crowding for pedestrians. Billion City would have many levels, so that various transportation systems could work without interfering with each other. One level might be for pedestrians, another for electric automobiles, a third for bicycles, a fourth for high-speed automobiles, a fifth for buses, and sixth for trains (subways). High-speed elevators, escalators, and moving sidewalks would convey people swiftly between one level and another.
11 By building the city both deep into the ground and high above it, there would be room for far more people and everything else than there is in today's two-dimensional city. Yet residents would not feel crowded, because they would not be jostled or inconvenienced by others as much as they are today.
12 Air and water would be constantly recycled. As a result, air would be cleaner and water purer than in today's cities.
13 Electricity for the city would come from many sources, including the burning of trash from the city's refuse collections. Powerfrugal systems would keep electricity usage low so that the demand on outside sources is low.
14 Soundproof walls would prevent people from disturbing each other by having loud parties or playing musical instruments.
15 Electronic monitors would watch over the public areas so that there would be little crime.
16 Paintings and video scenes of oceans and forests would compensate for the lack of windows. There would be windows of course but they might be fairly expensive; besides, most people wouldn't feel the need for them provided there were suitable interior decorations.
17 All kinds of new technologies are becoming available to help with city problems. What seems to be lacking are the human leadership and management systems to do the job. If we get those, something like Billion city may someday be built, and it will be a great place to live.
ad. in the end 最后,终于
n. a person who lives or has a home in a place 居民
n. helpful; advantageous 有利的
v. to feel or express sympathy or support (with) 同情,同意
n. a large number (of) 一大批,一系列
n. the mixture of smoke and fog 烟雾
n. the underground railway in a town 地铁
n. increase 增加
n. a large hole (as in a road surface) 路面凹坑
a. not repaired 失修的
a. impossible to travel through or on 不可通行的
a. drawn by animals 牲畜拉的
a. developing 发展的
orderlya. well arranged; in good order 有秩序的
a. rich 富裕的, 富有的
v. to put too great a load on 使过量负荷,使超载
v. to kill or put to an end to 毁灭
v. to be in action; work 起作用
ad. to a great extent 大部份,大半
a. often happening 频繁的
n. a person who walks in the street 行人
v. to get in the way of another 妨碍,干扰
n. a moving staircase on which people can go up or down 自动扶梯
n. a path at the side of a street for persons to walk 人行道
v. to take, carry 运送
a. quick or rapid 快,迅速
swiftlyad. quickly, fast 快地
v. to cause discomfort or trouble to 使感到不便
n. collecting 回收,收取
v. 1. to break the calm state of 打搅,扰乱
2. to move something out of order 弄乱
v. to give something to make up (for loss, injury, etc.) 弥补,补偿
n. & v. 缺少,缺乏
conj. on the condition that 假如,假使
a. right for the purpose or occasion 合适的
a. situated inside; of the inside 内在的,内部的
ad. at some future time 将来某一天
Phrases and Expressions
under (favorable) conditions
an array of
to the point of
United Nations Fund for Population Activities