Data from satellite photographs of the tropical rain forest in Melonia show that last year the deforestation rate of this environmentally sensitive zone was significantly lower than in previous years. The Melonian government, which spent millions of dollars last year to enforce laws against burning and cutting of the forest, is claiming that the satellite data indicate that its increased efforts to halt the destruction are proving effective.
Which one of the following, if true, most seriously undermines the governments claim?
I was between B & D after I eliminated A, C, and E. I chose B.
Here's my breakdown:
(A) Landowner opposition to the governments antideforestation efforts grew more violent last year in response to the increased enforcement.
The Gov't is claiming that it's laws helped to reduce deforestation, and landowner opposition really has nothing to do with deforestation.
(B) Rainfall during the usually dry 6-month annual burning season was abnormally heavy last year.
This could explain why there was less deforestation: more rain would equal less opportunity to destroy forest. Hold on to B as possible answer.
(C) Government agents had to issue fines totaling over $9 million to 3,500 violators of burning-and-cutting regulations.
Gov't fines would help but this would be in support of the deforestation because this shows it was continuing, fines or not.
(D) The inaccessibility of much of the rain forest has made it impossible to confirm the satellite data by direct observation from the field.
This would make sense for now, even though it is odd that satellite data can't not be true. Hold on to D for now.
(E) Much of the money that was designated last year for forest preservation has been spent on research and not on enforcement
This has nothing to do with satellite views and actually contradicts the Gov't claim.
So you are left with B and D. Looking at the passage, B would most explain why deforestation wouldn't be able to occur and would undermine the view from the Gov't. Choice D wouldn't necessarily undermine the Gov't view because satellite data is reliable. Ground confirmation isn't necessary, thus weakening choice D.
Answer is B.