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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 - March 2020

Cave Fish: Cavefish or cave fish is a generic term for fresh and brackish water fish adapted to life in caves and other underground habitats. Cavefish are members of a wide range of families and do not form a monophyletic group. Typical adaptations found in cavefish are reduced eyes and pigmentation. There are over 250 species of fish in the world living in dark caves with scarce food. Most of these fish are small, generally less than 8.5 cms long as they have less food to prey and eat.

Recently, the experts from U.K. Switzerland and India have found the largest Cave Fish in the world in Meghalaya. It is regarded as the largest known subterranean fish in world and is 40 cm long. The fish was found in a cave located in a remote and densely forested area in Jaintia Hills.

M.M. Wildlife Sanctuary: It refers to MalaiMahadeshwara Wildlife Sanctuary. It is located in Karnataka in Chamarajanagar district. The MM Hills Wildlife Sanctuary in Chamarajanagara district will soon get the status of a tiger reserve. It will be the sixth one in the state and the 51st in the country.

The Malai Mahadeshwara Wildlife Sanctuary was once the hideout of notorious brigand Veerappan. It is based on the confluence of the Eastern and Western ghats. It was notified as a sanctuary only in May 2013. It is home to tigers, leopards, sloth bears, elephants, dholes, antelopes, grizzled giant squirrels and honey badgers.

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

  • U.N : It referes to The United Nations. It is an intergovernmental organization tasked with maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations, achieving international co-operation, and being a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations. António Guterres is the present UN Secretary-General.
  • UN Climate Action Summit : The purpose of the Summit is to bring leaders from around the world together urgently to address climate change and achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. The first summit had taken place in California in 2018. According to the U.N. reports Average global temperature between 2015-2019, 2019 set to be hottest on record. The UN Climate Change Summit, 2019 was held in New York. It launched an initiative to guide heavy industries towards low-carbon economy. Along with other World leaders Prime Minister Modi too attended the summit where he urged world leaders to take actions to protect the environment and to ban single-use plastic.
  • AURANGABAD:A new species of snakes has been discovered in the Western Ghats in Maharashtra and named after Tejas Thackeray, the younger son of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, for his contribution to the find. The species falls in the category commonly called as cat snakes and belong to the genus Boiga. The first Boiga to be described from the western ghats in 125 years. It is Known to feed exclusively on tree frogs & their eggs. It is found on trees over hanging rain fed streams in it's misty montane rainforest habitat. The new species was found in the Koyna region of Satara district in western Maharashtra.
  • Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) of Gujarat : The country's first 'Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS)’ has been launched by the Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani in Surat to encourage and incentivize the industrial units to cut air pollution. Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) chose Surat as the pilot city for the project because it is a densely-populated industrial centre and its textile and dyeing industries emit heavy pollution.As industries in Surat have already installed Continuous Emission Monitoring Systems so that makes it possible to estimate the mass of PM being released. ETS is a regulatory tool that is aimed at reducing the pollution load in an area and at the same time minimising the cost of compliance for the industry. GPCB spent two years developing pollution monitoring devices (called Continuous Emissions Monitoring Systems, or CEMS. The ETS will function by defining the total total mass of pollution that can be released into air over a certain fixed period by all industrial units or factories collectively, under the cap and trade market.
  • Gandhi Solar Park :Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with UN chief Antonio Guterres and other world leaders inaugurated the Gandhi Solar Park and Gandhi Peace Garden at the UN headquarters in New York. This gesture highlighted India's attempt to not only talk about climate change but also take action. The 50 kilowatt Gandhi Solar Park is a $1 million-solar park that will produce 50 kilowatts of electricity from the roof of the conference building at the UN headquarters.The energy generated in park is equivalent to energy that would have been created through use of 30,000 kilograms of coal. It also has a carbon sequestration of 1000 seedlings which will grow into trees over a period of 10 years.India gifted 193 solar panels for the project—one panel each for every UN member state.
    Gandhi Peace garden : It was inaugurated at the State University of New York at Old Westbury in Long Island. About 153 trees were planted in the garden to honour Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th anniversary. The peace garden is a crowd project which will give people a chance to adopt trees in memory of their loved ones. The leaders also launched a United Nations (UN) postage stamp of Mahatma Gandhi that marks his 150th anniversary. On the very same day, Narendra Modi was also conferred with the Global Goalkeeper Award for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission) launched by his government. He received the award from Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
  • World Rhino Day :This day is celebrated on September 22 every year to celebrate the world’s five rhinoceros species, and to reflect on the challenges facing them. Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), zoos, and public celeberate rhinos in their own unique ways. The World Rhino Day was launched by World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-South Africa on September 22 in the year 2010. The day is internationally observed across both African and Asian rhino bearing countries. World’s Five Rhinoceros Species living in Africa and Asia– Javan Rhinos (Rhinoceros sondaicus), Critically Endangered (IUCN), Sumatran rhinos (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), Critically Endangered (IUCN) Black rhinos (Diceros bicornis), Critically Endangered (IUCN) White rhinos (Ceratotherium simum), Near Threatened (IUCN) Greater One-Horned Rhinos (Rhinoceros unicornis), Vulnerable (IUCN).
  • International Coastal Clean-up Day :It is celebrated every year on the third Saturday of September. This year it was celebrated on 21st of September. It was started in 1986. It was begun by Linda Maraniss and Kathy O Hara. They worked on ocean conservancy. Around 2,800 volunteers participated in the first clean up session. The International Coastal Cleanup Day is celebrated so as to encourages people to clean beaches, remove the garbage plaguing it. It has now has 6 million volunteers participating from 90 countries globally. The theme of this year is marine animal, The Pelican. In India, on this day programmes were conducted in several coastal cities like, Mumbai and Chennai. Thousands of volunteers joined the cleaning of the shores and beaches programmes t Chennai Besant Nagar beach and Mumbai Versova Beach. Huge quantity of non – biodegradable waste and handed over to municipal authorities for proper disposal.
  • World Ozone Day 2019 : World Ozone Day 2019 is also known as the International Day for the preservation of the Ozone Layer. It is observed annually on September 16 to commemorate the signing of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987. This day is celebrated so that it serves as a reminder that humans must keep up their momentum to ensure healthy people and a healthy planet. World Ozone Day 2018 theme was “Keep Cool and Carry on: The Montreal Protocol”. It aimed to urge everyone to carry on the exemplary work of protecting the ozone layer and the climate under the Montreal Protocol. As per the study completed in 2018, ‘Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion’, some parts of the ozone layer has recovered at a rate of 1 to 3% per decade since 2000 and by the end of 2030 Ozone layer may heal completely in Northern hemisphere. Similarly, the ozone layer in Southern hemisphere and Polar Regions will be recovered by 2050 and 2060 respectively.
  • Ozone layer: The ozone layer is a fragile shield of gas that protects the Earth and its ecosystem from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun, thus help preserve life on the planet. The phase out of controlled uses of substances that deplete the ozone layer will not only protect the ozone layer for future generations but will also significantly boost global efforts to address the issue of climate change. The objective of the Montreal Protocol is to protect the ozone layer by taking appropriate measures to bring down global production and consumption of substances that harm the ozone layer. According to this protocol, there is a list of more than 100 chemicals so it sets out a timetable for the phase-out of production and consumption of those substances, with the aim of eventually eliminating them completely.
  • Melting Antarctic glaciers to slip faster towards ocean:The water from melting Antarctic glaciers, flowing through the ice and beneath them, is rapidly increasing further thawing of the continent’s ice sheets towards the sea due to the surface meltwater penetrating into the ice bed, and lubricating the sliding of glaciers As per the reports published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers including those from the Sheffield in the Uk for the first time have found that melting on the surface impacts the flow of glaciers in Antarctica. According to them gravity causes glaciers to move downhill with the internal deformation of ice, and by sliding over the ground beneath them by a process lubricated by liquid water called basal sliding. Researchers, used imagery and data from satellites along with regional climate modelling and found that meltwater is causing some glaciers to move 100 % faster than average which is up to 400 metres per year. The study also shows that the movement of glaciers in the Antarctic Peninsula coincides with spikes in snowmelt. According to the study, the speed at which glaciers that move towards the sea is determined by the Antarctic temperature and as the temperature is continuously rising in the Antarctic surface melting would occur more frequently and also across a wider area.
  • Hawaii's coral reefs : In Hawaii, reefs are also a major part of the economy where tourism thrives largely because of coral reefs that help create and protect iconic white sand beaches, offer snorkeling and diving spots, and help form waves that draw surfers from around the world. Just four years after a major marine heat wave killed nearly half of Hawaii's coral reefs, federal researchers are predicting another round of hot water will cause some of the worst coral bleaching the region has ever seen. They have made the predictions because of the early signs of bleaching in Papa Bay and elsewhere caused by a marine heat wave that has sent temperatures soaring to record highs for months. Researchers using high-tech equipment to monitor Hawaii's reefs are seeing early signs of bleaching in Papa Bay and elsewhere caused by a marine heat wave that has sent temperatures soaring to record highs for months. June, July and parts of August all experienced the hottest ocean temperatures ever recorded around the Hawaiian Islands. Forecasters expect high temperatures in the north Pacific that will continue to pump heat into Hawaii's waters well into October.
  • Food Ministry puts blanket ban on single use plastic products from 15 Sept : Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs Food and Public Distribution has announced a blanket ban on all types of single use plastic products in various departments of Ministry and all its Public Sector Units (PSUs) including Food Corporation of India (FCI) starting from 15 September 2019. The decision on this ban on use of single-use plastic products was taken in a high level meeting held by Union Minister of Consumer Affairs Food and Public Distribution, Ram Vilas Paswan. Union Minister. The high level meeting was held with Secretaries of both Departments i.e. Consumer Affairs and Food, CMD FCI, DG Bureau of India Standards (BIS), MD of central warehousing corporation (CWC), Director Legal Metrology along with other senior officials of Ministry. Steps taken by Ministry so far is that during the Swachhata Pakhwada and Swachhata Hi Sewa campaign, department of fertilizers has distributed cloth bags produced by Women’s Self help Group (SHG) Laxmi Devi Swasya Group of village Maragondanahalli Grama Panchayat Ramohalli district, Karnataka to its employees to reduce consumption of single use plastics. As per the department, it is a small step to reduce single-use plastic usage and, to make people aware of viable alternative, while at the same time to improve income and livelihood of rural women of India.
  • Environment Ministry releases Rs 47,436 crore for afforestation to various states:The Union Ministry of Environment has released Rs 47,436 crore of CAMPA funds to various states for afforestation projects. The transferred funds will not affect the state budget for forests, it will be an additional fund. The funds were handed over by Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar.The Environment Ministry has released the additional fund to the states to give a boost to forestry activities to achieve the objectives of the Nationally-Determined Contributions (NDCs) of increasing forest and tree cover. The increase in forest and tree cover will create an additional carbon sink equivalent to 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by the year 2030. The Environment Minister said that the funds will be used for compensatory afforestation, wildlife management, improvement of wildlife habitat, assisted natural regeneration, soil and moisture conservation works in the forest, catchment area treatment, forest fire prevention and control operations, management of biological diversity and biological resources and research in forestry and monitoring of CAMPA works. The CAMPA funds cannot be used for payment of salary, travelling allowances and medical expenses. The Supreme Court ordered for the establishment of Compensatory Afforestation Fund and Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) in 2001. This was after the top court observed that the funds collected for afforestation were underutilized by the states. The court ordered for central pooling of funds under the Compensatory Afforestation Fund. The National Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (National CAMPA) was set up to manage the fund. In 2009, states set up State CAMPAs, which receive 10 percent of the funds from National CAMPA for afforestation and forest conservation activities. In the same year, the apex court also permitted the release of Rs 1000 crore every year to States/UTs for compensatory afforestation and other activities. As per the CAG report 2013 noted that the funds continued to be underutilized. The Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill 2015 was then introduced by the government in Lok Sabha in May 2015 to regulate the collected funds. The bill was then sent for examination under a standing committee and it was passed by Rajya Sabha in July 2016. With the approval of the Supreme Court in January 2019, after notification of CAF Rules, an amount worth Rs.54,685 crore from Ad-hoc CAMPA was brought under the control of the Union Government. Overall, 27 States and UTs have created accounts for receiving the government funds and those states will be the beneficiary of the additional funds announced by the government. The fund shall be utilized as per the provisions of the CAF Act and CAF Rules.
  • Researchers discover five new fish species in Arunachal Pradesh:Five new species of fish have been discovered from different districts of Arunachal Pradesh. The discovery was made by a fisheries and aquatic ecology research team from the zoology department of Rajiv Gandhi University (RGU). The research team was headed by Professor DN Das. The RGU research team published the details of the discovery in various International journals. According to Prof DN Das, the head of the research team, the majority of remote water bodies in the state are still not easily accessible to researchers due to dense rainforests, steep terrains and communication problem. He, however, said that the research team was confident that systematic exploration may result in more discoveries of new Ichthyo species from the state in the future.

    Following are the five newly discovered fish species:

    1. Mystus Prabini: The fish species was discovered in Sinkin and the Dibang rivers in Lower Dibang Valley district.
    2. Exostoma Kottelati: The species was discovered in the Ranga River in Lower Subansiri district.
    3. Creteuchiloglanis Tawangensis: The species was discovered in the Tawangchu river in Tawang district of the Arunachal Pradesh.
    4. Garra Ranganensis: The species was discovered in the Ranga River.
    5. Physoschistura Harkishorei: The species was discovered in the Dibang and the Lohit rivers in Lower Dibang Valley district.
  • Amazon fires: Seven countries sign forest protection pactSeven South American countries have agreed measures to protect the Amazon river basin, amid global concern over massive fires in the world's largest tropical forest. Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Suriname signed a pact, setting up a disaster response network and satellite monitoring.The countries were represented in Leticia by presidents, vice-presidents and ministers. At a summit in Colombia, they also agreed to work on reforestation. More than 80,000 fires have broken out in the Amazon rainforest this year. The Amazon is a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming, and 60% of it is located in Brazil. The number of fires between January and August 2019 is double that of the same period last year, according to the country's National Institute for Space Research (Inpe). President Bolsonaro has drawn intense domestic and international criticism for failing to protect the region. Environmentalists say his policies have led to an increase in fires this year and that he has encouraged cattle farmers to clear vast swathes of the rainforest since his election last October .Meanwhile, Brazil's leading meat export industry group and agricultural businesses have joined an environmental campaign calling for an end to deforestation in public lands in the Amazon and demanding government action. Bolivia has also seen fires rage across the forest near its borders with Brazil and Paraguay. Several international retailers have said they are suspending purchases of Brazilian leather because of the links between cattle ranching and the fires devastating parts of the Amazon rainforest.
  • NGT asks centre to prepare plan for protection of Great Indian BustardNoting the high mortality of Great Indian Bustard, the National Green Tribunal has directed the government to prepare within two months a time-bound action plan for protection of these birds. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel constituted a joint committee to prepare the action plan for implementation of suggestions submitted by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) over the issue. The panel comprises director general and additional director general, Forest (Wildlife) from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, nominees of Ministry of Power, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and nominees of Energy Departments of Gujarat and Rajasthan. The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by the Centre for Wildlife and Environment Litigation. The plea said according to the 30th Forest Advisory Committee meeting, power lines, especially high-voltage transmission lines with multiple overhead wires, are the major threat to the critically endangered species as they have poor frontal vision. It said 75 per cent of the birds have died due to collision with power lines in the past 30 years. The Great Indian Bustard is an endangered species. Its scientific name is Ardeotis nigriceps. Its largest populations are found in Indian state Rajasthan.It is listed in the Schedule I of Indian Wlildlife (Protection)Act,1972 , Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) or Bonn Convention,Appendix I of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), IUCN Red List- as Critically Endangered and National Wildlife Action Plan (2002-2016). It has also been identified as one of the species for recovery programme under Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats of Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
  • 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

  • EPCA: 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.
  • Meghalaya: 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.