GED Science Practice Questions: Earth’s Resources

The way that we use natural resources affects the health of our environment. To reflect this, the GED Science test will contain questions about renewable and non-renewable resources, and how sustainably we use them.

Before answering the following practice questions, you must first read a passage about the challenges of modern garbage disposal. (Remember to read both the passage and the questions carefully—otherwise, you may answer incorrectly.)

Practice questions

The questions refer to the following passage.

Where Does All the Garbage Go?

When we finish using something, we throw it away, but where is “away”? In our modern cities, “away” is usually an unsightly landfill site, piled high with all those things that we no longer want. A modern American city generates solid waste or garbage at an alarming rate. Every day, New York City produces 17,000 tons of garbage and ships it to Staten Island, where it is added to yesterday’s 17,000 tons in a landfill site. We each produce enough garbage every five years to equal the volume of the Statue of Liberty. In spite of all the efforts to increase recycling, we go on our merry way producing garbage without thinking about where it goes.

In any landfill, gone is not forgotten by nature. By compacting the garbage to reduce its volume, we slow the rate of decomposition, which makes our garbage last longer. In a modern landfill, the process produces a garbage lasagna. There’s a layer of compacted garbage covered by a layer of dirt, covered by a layer of compacted garbage and so on. By saving space for more garbage, we cut off the air and water needed to decompose the garbage and, thus, preserve it for future generations. If you could dig far enough, you might still be able to read 40-year-old newspapers. The paper may be preserved, but the news is history.

One of the answers to this problem is recycling. Any object that can be reused in one form or another is an object that shouldn’t be found in a landfill. Most of us gladly recycle our paper, which saves energy and resources. Recycled paper can be used again and even turned into other products. Recycling old newspapers is not as valuable as hidden treasure, but when the cost of landfills and the environmental impact of producing more and more newsprint are considered, it can be a bargain. If plastic shopping bags can be recycled into a cloth-like substance that can be used to make reusable shopping bags, maybe American ingenuity can find ways to reduce all that garbage being stored in landfills before the landfills overtake the space for cities.

  1. Why are the disposal methods used in modern landfills as much a part of the problem as a part of the solution?

    A. They look very ugly.
    B. They take up a lot of valuable land.
    C. The bacteria that aid decomposition do not thrive.
    D. Newspapers are readable after 50 years.

  2. What can individual Americans do to reduce the amount of waste that is going into the landfills?

    A. Eat less.
    B. Reuse and recycle as much as possible.
    C. Stop using paper.
    D. Import more nitrogen.

Answers and explanations

  1. The correct answer is Choice (C).The passage states that with the methodology used for burying solid waste in a modern landfill, the bacteria needed for decomposition can’t survive. The reason for using landfills is that they require less space — not that they promote decomposition. Thus, the landfill and the processes used within it are as much a part of the problem as part of the solution. The other choices may be partially correct, but the key point in the text concerns the decomposition of wastes.
  2. The correct answer is Choice (B).As long as you dispose of waste by taking it to the curb or the dump, there will be an excess amount of waste being disposed of. Every piece of waste that you can reuse or recycle lives on to be useful again and, thus, eliminates some of the waste in America.