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  1. #1
    AngelaLin is offline Newbie
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    Lightbulb A confusing sentence

    Dear teachers,

    This sentence is from an academic paper, and I'm not sure what "which" and "them" are referring to. The quotes are as follows:

    Clean water is a basic human need. Its discovery, transport, and systematic renewal have always been crucial to all but the least densely populated societies. Increasing population and industrial wastes, together with diminishing sources of easily available energy with which to manage them, are converging to emphasize that all the earth’s resources are finite. But the supply of clean water, though also finite, is at least infinitely renewable.
    To me, it seems that "which" refers to energy, and "them" refers to wastes. Is there only one way to look at the sentence? What does the third sentence mean exactly? Could any of you help analyze the sentence structure?

    Many thanks in advance!
    Last edited by AngelaLin; 30-Mar-2011 at 03:05.

  2. #2
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    Route21 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: A confusing sentence

    Hi AngelaLin

    As a NES, but not a teacher, my reading of the paragraph would be that "which" refers back to "diminishing sources of easily available energy " and "them" refers to "industrial wastes".

    Hope this helps
    R21

    PS I don't believe that the diminishing energy situation would have much effect on increasing population side!
    Last edited by Route21; 30-Mar-2011 at 13:27.

  3. #3
    JTRiff is offline Member
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    Default Re: A confusing sentence

    Increasing population and industrial wastes, together with diminishing sources of easily available energy with which to manage them, are converging to emphasize that all the earth’s resources are finite. But) The supply of clean water, though also finite, is at least infinitely renewable.

    That's a poorly-writ sentence, that is, though not technically wrong.

    Sources of easily-available energy, required to manage increasing population and industrial wastes, are diminishing, emphasizing that earths' resources are finite.
    Hmm.

    Increasing wastes and diminishing sources don't really converge, except maybe on a graph.

  4. #4
    Rover_KE is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: A confusing sentence

    Welcome to the board, JT.

    Please state that you are not a teacher in your replies.

    Rover

  5. #5
    AngelaLin is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: A confusing sentence

    Thank you so much for answering my question, everyone!
    As a newcomer, I find this forum a perfect place to discuss language!!
    Your help is greatly appreciated!!

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