Environment & Climate Current affairs 2019
Following the current events and news in the area of geography is very very important for the general studies paper in the UPSC exam. In recent times questions are set on only those topics that have made news. Regular study of Environment from NCERT books or otherwise is no longer required. The idea is to follow the current affairs news related to Environment and understand the Environment behind those issues. This is true for all levels of teh IAS exam - prelims, mains and also the interview.
Current Affairs Quiz
Current Affairs in Environment - January 2020
Zambia: It is a landlocked country in southern Africa, with a tropical climate, and consists mostly of high plateaus with some hills and mountains; dissected by river valleys. It is a Sub-Saharan African country sharing boundaries with Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe (MTENR, 2002). On its border with Zimbabwe is the famous Victoria Falls also called Mosi-oa-Tunya, or "Smoke That Thunders”. The capital of Zambia is Lusaka. The currency used here is Zambian kwacha. The president of Zambia is Edgar Lungu.
Zambia has been experiencing adverse impacts of climate change. It is facing severe draught conditions due to the dramatic shift in the weather conditions. Around 2 million people are in need of food aid, following two years of poor rains and failed harvests.
Climate change: It occurs when changes in Earth's climate system result in new weather patterns that remain in place for an extended period of time. Climate change caused by human activities that emit greenhouse gases into the air is expected to affect the frequency of extreme weather events such as drought, extreme temperatures, flooding, high winds, and severe storms. Even the cutting down of trees and burning forests result in climate change.
Australia: Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's 6th largest country by total area. Australia is also the world's driest continent. Its capital is Canberra. The currency used here is Australian dollar. The Prime Minister of Australia is Scott Morrison.
The wildfires raging in the Australian states of New South Wales and Victoria began in November 2019, and they continue to pose severe safety and environmental problems. Australian bushfire have caused a great damage to humans, property and wildlife. Dozens of bushfires are raging across large parts of Australia. It has become a real economic threat of the climate emergency. The environmental calamity has been stoked by a combination of extreme winds, record-shattering heat waves, and drought-parched forests and grasslands.
The bushfires have grown so monstrous that they are now generating their own weather in the form of pyro-cumulonimbus clouds—dry thunderstorms and even cyclonic fire-tornadoes, or “firenados in arid regions of southern Australia. These fire generated thunderstorms has been describes as "fire-breathing dragon of clouds" by NASA. According to Ecologists nearly about nearly 500 million mammals, reptiles and birds—including 8,000 koalas—are estimated to have been killed, although the current death toll is impossible to calculate. Different species like koalas, wallabies, Kangaroos, bandicoots, echidnas, possums, wombats, potoroos, and many other species live in that region which is being destroyed by fire. Now the fire seems to have reached the wetlands which will cause destruction of dry eucalyptus forests and even rainforest.
Bushfires: Each year there is a fire season during the Australian summer, with hot, dry weather making it easy for blazes to start and spread. Natural causes are to blame most of the time, like lightning strikes in drought-affected forests.
Hargila: The greater adjutant (Leptoptilos dubius) is a member of the stork family Ciconiidae. This rarest of storks, the Hargila is currently on the brink of extinction due to habitat loss stemming from indiscriminate felling of big trees, poaching, poisoning and dwindling wetlands. In India, eight species of residential storks are found, out of which Greater Adjutant is one of them. Once abundantly distributed in Southeast Asia, this stork is now restricted to a few isolated pockets in Assam and Bihar in India and PrekToal in Cambodia. It is an endangered species. This colonial birds breeds in traditional nesting colonies within thickly populated villages in Assam. It also breeds in tall trees species including Anthocephaluscadamba(Kadam), Artocarpusleukochuwa (Dewa), Pithecellobiummonadephum, BombaxCeiba (Simul), Tamarindusindica (Teteli), Trewianudifera (Bhelkol), Gmelinaarborea (Gomari). It is listed under schedule IV of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
The Assam State Zoo cum Botanical Garden and Aaranyak has jointly attained a landmark achievement by successfully hatching a pair of Greater Adjutant chicks in an artificial platform. The platform is within the zoo enclosure. It is the first ever experiment of its kind.
Palau: Palau officially the Republic of Palau is an archipelago of over 500 islands. It is a part of the Micronesia region in the western Pacific Ocean. The country contains approximately 340 islands, and together with parts of the Federated States of Micronesia, forms the western chain of the Caroline Islands. The capital Ngerulmud is located on the nearby island of Babeldaob, in Melekeok State. Palau shares maritime boundaries with the Philippines, Indonesia, and Micronesia. It is made of large volcanic islands and small coral reefs. Palau is famous for its marine life and renowned for the best diving destinations. The Rock Islands in the Palau is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The tiny Pacific island nation introduced strict environmental measures. Palau has become the first country in the world to ban sun cream to protect corals reefs. The country has banned ‘reef toxic' or coral toxic sunscreens as a common ingredients used in cosmetics including oxybenzone which is very harmful to the corals. The order of the ban was passed in 2018 but it comes into effect from January 1, 2020. The sunscreen creams have been banned because the cream absorbs UV radiations and make corals susceptible to bleaching.
This decision was taken on the basis of a report published in 2017 that informed sunscreen products have harmful chemicals for coral reefs. As per the report published by The Ocean Foundation, about 6 to 14,000 tons of sunscreen is washed into the coral reefs every year.
WII: It is an acronym of Wildlife Institute of India. WII is an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate change(MoFCC), Government of India. It was established in May 1982. WII has a research facility which includes Forensics, Remote Sensing and GIS, Laboratory, Herbarium, and an Electronic Library.
WII is set to conduct the Asiatic Lion Census in May 2020. Around 8,000-10,000 cameras will be used to carry out the 2020 lion census in Gujarat, the last abode of the Asiatic lion in the area spanning 7 districts in Gujarat.
For the first time, the expertise of Wildlife Institute of India will be perused in the census.
The Gujarat forest department conducts lion census every five years in Asiatic Lion Landscape, which includes Gir National Park and Sanctuary. The 2015 lion census had counted 523 lions in the state.
Asiatic Lion: The Asiatic lion is a Panthera leo leo population in India. Its range is restricted to the Gir National Park and environs in the Indian state of Gujarat.
It is listed as its former scientific name Panthera leo persica on the IUCN Red List as Endangered because of its small population size and area of occupancy. It is listed in Schedule-I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
Current Affairs in Environment - September 2019
- Typhoon Faxai : A powerful typhoon landed near Tokyo early Monday morning, killing at least three people and injuring about 40 as well as affecting hundreds of thousands of rush-hour commuters in the metropolitan area at the start of the week.
The weather agency had warned that central and eastern Japan, including Tokyo, could see record winds, forcing airlines to cancel flights and some major roads to be closed. Authorities issued voluntary evacuation warnings to more than 390,000 people, as forecasters cautioned the rain and wind could reach “record” proportions. It had an atmospheric pressure of 975 hectopascals at its center and was packing winds of up to 180 kph, according to the Meteorological Agency.
- DPIIT: It is The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade. DPIIT has requested state governments to work towards collection of plastic waste from industrial estates, parks, corridors, nodes and industrial areas for the ‘Swachhta hi Sewa 2019’ campaign beginning from September 11. DPIIT will ensure recycling of plastic waste collected on October 2 in cement kilns and also collect plastic waste through nationwide ‘shramdaan’. On the occassion of the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, DPIIT personnel will undertake manual labour and ensure the collection of plastic waste in and around industrial areas all across the country.
Under the Plastic Waste Management (PWM) campaign the DPIIT has also requested state governments to sensitize Industrial Parks by focusing on Plastic Waste Management on a sustained and continuous basis. State and UTs Governments will monitor the campaign through their nodal teams to be set up by them.
- UNCCD COP-14: On Monday 9 September 2019, Prime Minister of India Mr. Narendra Modi inaugurated the High Level Segment (HLS) of UNCCD COP14 in the presence of heads of the UN and other international organizations, leaders of states and ministers from many countries to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) today, at Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh. As many as 196 countries, 70 environment ministers and over 8,000 delegates from across globe are participating in 12-day conference from September 2 to September 13.
Speaking at the 14th session of the Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Prime Minister Modi said between 2015 and 2017, India’s tree and forest cover increased by 0.8 million hectares. He announced that India would raise its target for restoring degraded land from 21 million hectares to 26 million hectares by 2030. Modi also said India would be happy to propose initiatives for greater South-South cooperation in addressing issues of climate change, biodiversity and land degradation. The prime minister also called upon the leadership of UNCCD to conceive global water action agenda which is central to Land Degradation Neutrality strategy.
Degraded lands also addresses the problems of water scarcity. Augmenting water supply, enhancing water recharge, slowing down water run-off and retaining moisture in the soil are all parts of a holistic land and water strategy. India would be happy to help other friendly countries develop land restoration strategies through cost effective satellite technology.
- (MoEFCC): It is the Union Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) which undertakes projects that focuses on steps required to save animals from extinction and ensure a healthy environment endangered species. Elephant project, Rhino project, Tiger project and other variants of this kind are in action to protect and preserve animal lives.There are 771 protected areas whose land composition cannot be changed, which is boosting animal population.
Three Animal Species in India Extinct Due To Desertification: According to some researchers three animal species namely Indian Cheetah, pink-headed duck and Great Indian Bustard have become extinct due to desertification in India. The study by researchers was put forth at 14th meeting of Conference of Parties to United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP 14).
- UNCCD COP14: The 14th Conference of Parties (COP14) to United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) which is currently underway at India Expo Centre & Mart, Greater Noida dedicated day 10 to the theme of Drought. The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) on Wednesday aunched a 'drought toolbox' - a kind of knowledge bank that may be used by vulnerable countries, including India to reduce drought risk and be prepared and be able to effectively respond to it. The draught toolbox ia a web page that provides the stakeholders easy access to case studies and other resources to support action on drought preparedness with the aim of boosting the resilience of people and ecosystes to drought.
Current Affairs in Environment - July 2019
It stands for the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority was constituted with the objective of ‘protecting and improving’ the quality of the environment and ‘controlling environmental pollution’ in the National Capital Region. The EPCA also assists the apex court in various environment-related matters in the region. EPCA is Supreme Court mandated body tasked with taking various measures to tackle air pollution in the National Capital Region. It was notified in 1998 by Environment Ministry under Environment Protection Act, 1986. Besides the chairman, the EPCA has 14 members, some of whom are the environment secretary of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT), chairperson of the New Delhi Municipal Council, transport commissioner of the NCT, the commissioners of various municipal corporations of Delhi and professors at IIT Delhi and Jawaharlal Nehru University.
The state which recently approved the State Water Policy to address water usages, issues of conservation and protection of water sources in the State. With this, Meghalaya will become the 1st state in India to ensure conservation of water and have its own State Water Policy. The policy’s objective is to recognise water resources as a common pool resource, to provide hygienic water for drinking, domestic needs, sanitation and livelihood development. The policy includes measures like building check dams to conserve rainwater, rainwater harvesting systems, controlling inappropriate use of groundwater and maintaining the quality of water.
- 28,388 species: These are threatened with extinction as per the latest update to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. The IUCN Red List assesses 1,05,732 species. The current update breaks the 1,00,000 species barrier, making it the largest such assessment of species. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species.
- MOVCDNER & PKVY: These are the schemes which the Government of India has been encouraging/ promoting for organic farming. Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has launched this Central Sector Scheme named “Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region” (MOVCDNER) for implementation in the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura. The scheme aims at development of certified organic production in a value chain mode to link growers with consumers and to support the development of entire value chain starting from inputs, seeds, certification and creation of facilities for collection, aggregation, processing, marketing and brand building initiative. Organic Farming has also been supported under other Schemes viz Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) and Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH), Network Project on Organic Farming under ICAR. Third party certification of organic farming is promoted by Agriculture Processed Food and Export Development Authority (APEDA), Ministry of Commerce.
- Chrysomallon squamiferum: It is a scaly- foot snail found at only three spots in the Indian Ocean. It has become the first species to be officially declared threatened due to deep-sea mining. Chrysomallon squamiferum is found at three hydrothermal vents in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar. It was added by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to its updated Red List of Endangered Species on July 18, 2019.
Current Affairs in Environment - June 2019
- The Indian fertiliser industry: This industry has overlooked the aspects related to environmental pollution, while making improvements in energy efficiency, according to a study conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment, a New Delhi-based non-profit, under its Green Rating Project (GRP). The fertiliser industry has been classified under the ‘red category’ of polluting sectors by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
- Air pollution: This pollution is responsible for 12.5 per cent of all deaths in India. Climate change poses the biggest economic threat in the world today. These are the major findings of The State of India’s Environment 2019, an annual quantified statement of environmental statistics and analysis put together by Down To Earth magazine, which Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) helps publish. Air pollution impact on children is equally worrying. Over 100,000 children below the age of five die due to bad air in the country. While India was one of the first countries to pledge the phasing out of non-electric vehicles, its national scheme to promote the sale of e-vehicles is yet to pick up. Against the target of 15-16 million e-vehicles by 2020, the county had 0.28 million vehicles till May 2019. Both surface and groundwater in the country are under stress. 86 water bodies are critically polluted. The bulk of the polluted water bodies are in Karnataka, Telangana and Kerala. One of the reasons is the substantial increase (136 per cent) in the number of grossly polluting industries between 2011 and 2018. Groundwater is also reeling under overexploitation, which is running 94.5 per cent of all minor irrigation schemes in the country. There has been an unsustainable increase in the number of deep tube wells that has gone up by 80 per cent between 2006-07 and 2013-14.
- Paddy Frog: It is the name of new frog which the researchers have discovered from Northeast India, primarily in Assam. The newly discovered species has been named Aishani, which is derived from Sanskrit word ‘aishani’ or aisani meaning Northeast.The frog belongs to genus Micryletta, (a small genus of microhylid frogs). The microhylid genus is a group of narrow-mouthed frogs that are more commonly known as paddy frogs and are primarily and widely distributed in Southeast Asia (SEA). As of now, there are only 4 recognised species in this group and newly discovered Micryletta aishani becomes the 5th. It is likely to be more widely distributed in Northeast India, particularly Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot region.
- Death Zone of Mount Everest: This pollution is responsible for 12.5 per cent of all deaths in India. Climate change poses the biggest economic threat in the world today. These are the major findings of The State of India’s Environment 2019, an annual quantified statement of environmental statistics and analysis put together by Down To Earth magazine, which Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) helps publish. Air pollution impact on children is equally worrying. Over 100,000 children below the age of five die due to bad air in the country. While India was one of the first countries to pledge the phasing out of non-electric vehicles, its national scheme to promote the sale of e-vehicles is yet to pick up. Against the target of 15-16 million e-vehicles by 2020, the county had 0.28 million vehicles till May 2019. Both surface and groundwater in the country are under stress. 86 water bodies are critically polluted. The bulk of the polluted water bodies are in Karnataka, Telangana and Kerala. One of the reasons is the substantial increase (136 per cent) in the number of grossly polluting industries between 2011 and 2018. Groundwater is also reeling under overexploitation, which is running 94.5 per cent of all minor irrigation schemes in the country. There has been an unsustainable increase in the number of deep tube wells that has gone up by 80 per cent between 2006-07 and 2013-14.It is the place where the climate scientists have created a history by installing world’s highest operating weather station, including five other automated stations on other parts of the mountain. The weather station will record data on temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed, and wind direction. Besides, the new weather stations will also give scientists direct observations to understand jet stream, and will also help understand how the climate change is affecting the Himalayas. The other five weather stations that are located in the Mount Everest are in Balcony area (8,430 m), South Col (7,945m) at Phortse (3,810 m), Everest Base Camp (5,315 m) and Camp 2 (6,464 m).
- Bt cotton: It remains the only GM crop allowed to be cultivated in the country. Developed by US giant Bayer-Monsanto, it involves insertion of two genes viz ‘Cry1Ab’ and ‘Cry2Bc’ from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis into cotton seeds. This modification codes the plant to produce protein toxic to Heliothis bollworm (pink bollworm) thus making it resistant to their attack. The commercial release of this hybrid was sanctioned by the government in 2002. In India, it is the responsibility of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) under the Environment Ministry to assess the safety of a genetically modified plant, and decide whether it is fit for cultivation. The GEAC comprises experts and government representatives, and a decision it takes has to be approved by the Environment Minister before any crop is allowed for cultivation. Besides Bt cotton, the GEAC has cleared two other genetically modified crops — brinjal and mustard — but these have not received the consent of the Environment Minister.
Current Affairs in Environment - May 2019
- Mandapam, Keezhakkarai and Palk Bay in Gulf of Mannar regions:
They are the places where the researchers have found an alarming pattern of bleaching in the reefs. Sea surface temperature ranged from 28.7°C to 31°C in the August 2018-February 2019 period and there was no bleaching seen then. However, when the temperatures rose to between 32°C and 36°C between March 2019 and May 2019, researchers observed a pattern of bleaching in corals, which was different at different layers within the sea. Coral reefs are important hotspots of biodiversity in the ocean. Corals are animals in the same class (Cnidaria) as jellyfish and anemones. They consist of individual polyps that get together and build reefs.