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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

04 Aug, 2020

34 Min Read

Sea Level Rise: Its impact

GS-I : Human Geography Oceanography

Sea Level Rise: Its impact

GS-PAPER-1 Geography: Oceanography (PT-MAINS)

Recently, a study in journal Scientific reports made predictions that a large population and assets will be globally affected as a consequence of Sea Level Rise (SLR).

  • SLR is a consequence of climate change, which is predicted to increase coastal flooding by 2100.
  • The global population potentially exposed to episodic coastal flooding will increase from 128-171 million to 176-287 million by 2100. 0.5-0.7% of the world’s land area is at a risk of episodic coastal flooding by 2100, impacting 2.5-4.1% of the population.
  • The value of global assets exposed to coastal flooding is projected to be between 6,000-$9,000 billion USD, or 12-20% of the global GDP.
  • Globally, of the 68% area that is prone to coastal flooding, over 32% can be attributed to regional SLR.
  • For most of the world, flooding incidents that are typically associated with a 1 in a 100-year event could occur as frequently as 1 in 10 years, primarily as a result of SLR.

Sea Level Rise

SLR is an increase in the level of the world’s oceans due to the effects of climate change, especially global warming, induced by three primary factors:

  1. Thermal Expansion: When water heats up, it expands. About half of the sea-level rise over the past 25 years is attributable to warmer oceans simply occupying more space.
  2. Melting Glaciers: Higher temperatures caused by global warming have led to greater-than-average summer melting of large ice formations like mountain glaciers as well as diminished snowfall due to later winters and earlier springs. That creates an imbalance between runoff and ocean evaporation, causing sea levels to rise.
  3. Loss of Greenland and Antarctica’s ice sheets: As with mountain glaciers, increased heat is causing the massive ice sheets that cover Greenland and Antarctica to melt more quickly, and also move more quickly into the sea.

Global sea level has been rising over the past century, and the rate has accelerated in recent decades. The average global sea level has risen 8.9 inches between 1880 and 2015. That’s much faster than in the previous 2,700 years.

  • Regional SLR: SLR is not uniform across the world. Regional SLR may be higher or lower than Global SLR due to subsidence, upstream flood control, erosion, regional ocean currents, variations in land height, and compressive weight of Ice Age glaciers.
  • Sea level is primarily measured using tide stations and satellite laser altimeters.
  • Earlier, IPCC released ‘The Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate’ which underlined the dire changes taking place in oceans, glaciers, and ice-deposits on land and sea. The report expects oceans to rise between 10 and 30 inches by 2100 with temperatures warming 1.5 °C.

Impacts of SLR

  • Coastal Flooding: Globally, eight of the world's 10 largest cities are near a coast, which are threatened by coastal flooding. Jakarta (Indonesia) is being known as the world's fastest-sinking city, by about 25 cm into the ground every year. Other cities that regularly feature in the lists endangered by climate change include Guangzhou, Jakarta, Miami, Mumbai and Manila.
  • Destruction of Coastal Biodiversity: SLR can cause destructive erosion, wetland flooding, aquifer and agricultural soil contamination with salt, and lost habitat for biodiversity.
  • Dangerous Storm Surges: Higher sea levels are coinciding with more dangerous hurricanes and typhoons leading to loss of life and property.
  • Lateral and Inland Migration: Flooding in low-lying coastal areas is forcing people to migrate to higher ground causing displacement and dispossession and in turn a refugee crisis worldwide.
  • Effect on Communications Infrastructure: The prospect of higher coastal water levels threatens basic services such as internet access.
  • Threat to Inland Life: Rising seas can contaminate soil and groundwater with salt threatening life farther away from coasts.
  • Tourism and Military Preparedness: Tourism to coastal areas and military preparedness will also be negatively affected with increase in SLR.

Adaptation Strategies:

  • Relocation: Many coastal cities have planned to adopt relocation as mitigation strategy. For example, Kiribati Island has planned to shift to Fiji, while the Capital of Indonesia is being relocated from Jakarta to Borneo.
  • Building Sea wall: Indonesia’s government launched a coastal development project called a Giant Sea Wall or "Giant Garuda" in 2014 meant to protect the city from floods.
  • Building Enclosures: Researchers have proposed Northern European Enclosure Dam (NEED), enclosing all of the North Sea to protect 15 Northern European countries from rising seas. The Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Irish Sea, and the Red Sea were also identified as areas that could benefit from similar mega enclosures.
  • Architecture to Steer Flow of Water: Dutch City Rotterdam built barriers, drainage, and innovative architectural features such as a "water square" with temporary ponds.

Way Forward

Reducing future greenhouse gas emissions is the long-term goal we should all focus on to keep SLR in check. The Paris Agreement provides a clear vision on limiting global warming and thus, SLR. Some of the steps in this direction would include:
Switching from fossil fuels to clean alternatives like solar and wind energy.

  • Instituting carbon taxes on industries and subsidies for reducing carbon footprint.
  • Carbon sequestration by geoengineering and natural methods like restoring peatland and wetland areas to capture existing greenhouses gases.
  • Afforestation and reducing deforestation.
  • Subsidizing research on climate change.

Source: NG

China’s Presence in South America

GS-II : International Relations

China’s Presence in South America

GS-PAPER-2 CHINA-OBOR (Mains)

Recently, Ecuador has expressed an official discomfort over the sighting of a flotilla of 260 mostly Chinese fishing vessels near the Galapagos archipelago (a part of Ecuador). The flotilla also consisted of some Liberia and Panama-flagged vessels which was detected in an international water corridor situated between two areas of Ecuadorian jurisdiction– 200 miles away from both the Galapagos Islands and mainland Ecuador.

Galapagos Archipelago

The Galapagos Islands, spread over almost 60,000 sq km, are a part of Ecuador. These are located in the Pacific Ocean around 1,000 km away from the South American continent.

Protection Status: Ecuador made a part of the Galapagos a wildlife sanctuary in 1935, and the sanctuary became the Galapagos National Park in 1959. In 1978, the islands became UNESCO’s first World Heritage Site.

Wildlife: It contains aquatic species such as manta rays and sharks which have been endangered by commercial fishing. It also hosts a wide array of aquatic wildlife, including marine iguanas, fur seals, and waved albatrosses. Also, the giant tortoises found here – 'Galápagos' in old Spanish – give the islands its name.

Significance: The British naturalist Charles Darwin made key observations in 1835 that shaped his theory of evolution. Darwin described the islands as a “world in itself”.

Past Occurrences:

  • Ecuador has stated that the situation is repeated every year and such vessels reach the outer limit of the archipelago, outside the country’s exclusive zone.
  • In 2019, 245 Chinese fishing vessels were sighted in the area where Ecuador’s writ does not extend.
  • In 2017, a Chinese ship had entered Ecuador’s waters and its authorities seized the ship.
  • That time Ecuador had discovered 300 tonnes of wildlife on board, mostly the critically endangered scalloped hammerhead sharks.
  • It has been observed that the two-thirds of hammerhead shark fins found in Hong Kong markets come from the Galapagos area.

Reasons:
Chinese ships are frequent in Ecuador's waters during august month of the year as the cold Humboldt Current brings in nutrients that lead to a high congregation of marine species.

  • The Humboldt Current, also called the Peru Current, is a cold, low-salinity ocean current that flows north along the western coast of South America.
  • The Humboldt Current is a highly productive ecosystem. It is the most productive eastern boundary current system. It accounts for roughly 18-20% of the total worldwide marine fish catch.
  • Conflicts with Other Countries:
  • Chinese vessels have also run into trouble with other countries in the region.
  • In 2016, Argentina’s coast guard chased and sank a vessel that it claimed had been illegally fishing in the South Atlantic Ocean.

Diplomatic Consequences:

  • The matter has been escalated to a diplomatic level and Ecuador has officially expressed its “discomfort” to China.
  • Ecuador has also stated that it will discuss the threat with Peru, Chile, Colombia, and Panama – coastal countries of the region that have also been affected in the past.
  • The USA, which is already opposing China on multiple fronts, expressed its support for Ecuador. The USA has also expressed that it is against any aggression directed towards economic and environmental sovereignty.

China’s Stand:

  • China maintains that it is a “responsible fishing nation” with a “zero tolerance” policy toward illegal fishing.
  • It also stated that China respects Ecuador's measures to protect the environment and preserve marine resources.

Conclusion

All the nations including China need to be extra cautionary regarding environmental issues considering the looming threat of climate change. The warming of oceans due to climate change is expected to further increase fishing pressure around these islands. Thus, effective global collaboration is the only way forward to resolve such issues.

Source: IE

Bharat Air Fibre

GS-II : Governance e-Governance

Bharat Air Fibre

GS-Paper-2 Governance (PT-MAINS)

Recently, Bharat Air Fibre Services have been inaugurated at Akola in Maharashtra providing the residents wireless internet connections on demand. The Bharat Air Fibre services are being introduced by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) as a part of the Digital India initiative by the Government of India. It is being scaled pan-India.

Aim: To provide BSNL fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) wireless connectivity up to a range of 20 km from the BSNL points of presence.

Features:

  • The connectivity speed is 100 Mbps and BSNL is offering various broadband plans in wireline and wireless segments.
  • There is a huge demand for high-speed broadband service in the present situation as there is the migration of people from metro cities to rural areas due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The service is becoming popular due to Work from Home (WFH), e-learning, online shopping, gaming and entertainment, etc. amidst lockdowns. BSNL is also providing unlimited free voice calling.
  • Mechanism: It provides high-speed broadband to subscribers of remote areas by bridging the gap of last-mile connectivity through radio waves. A vast network of Optical Fibre has been laid by BSNL up to nearest Telephone Exchange or Mobile Tower and from there the connectivity is provided to subscribers over wireless.

  • Benefits:
    Customers at remote locations will be benefitted as BSNL comes with the cheapest services with the support of Telecom Infrastructure Partners (TIPs).
  • These services are wireless and there are very low chances of interruption in services locally.
  • BSNL is tying up with local entrepreneurs/unemployed youth on revenue sharing basis thereby generating employment in rural areas.
  • They will earn a regular monthly income of about one lakh per month thereby becoming self-reliant under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiative.
  • This service could be a game-changer for rural areas as with a little integration of Internet of Things (IoT) and sensors, the moisture content of soil can be known on a real-time basis, so that irrigation can be planned, resulting in saving of water and thereby increasing productivity.
  • Sensors can be tied to the neck of dairy cattle, enabling continuous recording of body temperature so as to know the exact time when milk output is best.

Bharat Net project

BharatNet is a flagship mission implemented by Bharat Broadband Network Ltd. (BBNL). It is a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) set up by the Government of India under the Companies Act, 1956 with an authorized capital of Rs 1000 crore.
Initially, it was under the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, which was bifurcated into the Ministry of Communications and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in July 2016. Currently, it is being implemented by the Department of Telecommunication under the Ministry of Communications.

National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) was launched in October 2011 and was renamed as Bharat Net Project in 2015.

National Optical Fibre Network:

It was envisaged as an information superhighway through the creation of a robust middle-mile infrastructure for reaching broadband connectivity to Gram Panchayats.
The Ministry of Communications has launched the National Broadband Mission that will facilitate universal and equitable access to broadband services across the country, especially in rural and remote areas.

Aim:

  • To facilitate the delivery of e-governance, e-health, e-education, e-banking, Internet and other services to rural India.
  • To connect all the 2,50,000 Gram panchayats in the country and provide 100 Mbps connectivity to all gram panchayats.
  • To achieve this, the existing unused fibres (dark fibre) of public sector undertakings (PSUs) (BSNL, Railtel and Power Grid) were utilised and incremental fibre was laid to connect to Gram Panchayats wherever necessary.
  • Non-discriminatory access to the NOFN was provided to all the service providers like Telecom Service Providers (TSPs), Cable TV operators and content providers to launch various services in rural areas.
  • The entire project is being funded by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), which was set up for improving telecom services in rural and remote areas of the country.

Implementation:

  • The project is a Centre-State collaborative project, with the states contributing free Rights of Way for establishing the Optical Fibre Network.
  • The three-phase implementation of the BharatNet project is as follows:
      • First Phase: Provide one lakh gram panchayats with broadband connectivity by laying underground optic fibre cable (OFC) lines by December 2017.
      • Second Phase: Provide connectivity to all the gram panchayats in the country using an optimal mix of underground fibre, fibre over power lines, radio and satellite media. It is to be completed by March 2019.
      • Third Phase: From 2019 to 2023, a state-of-the-art, future-proof network, including fibre between districts and blocks, with ring topology to provide redundancy would be created.
  • The participation of states became important in the second phase which involved laying of OFC over electricity poles. This was a new element of the BharatNet strategy as the mode of connectivity by aerial OFC has several advantages, including lower cost, speedier implementation, easy maintenance and utilization of existing power line infrastructure.

Dark fibre

  • It is an unused optical fibre that has been laid but is not currently being used in fibre-optic communications. Since fibre-optic cable transmits information in the form of light pulses, a ‘dark’ cable refers to one through which light pulses are not being transmitted.
  • Companies lay extra optical fibres in order to avoid cost repetition when more bandwidth is needed.
  • It is also known as unlit fibre.

Source: PIB

Aspirin to Prevent Cataract

GS-III :

Aspirin to Prevent Cataract

Recently, scientists from the Institute of Nano Science & Technology (INST) have developed nanorods from the Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID) Aspirin to prevent cataracts in an economical and less complicated way.

  • Aspirin is a popular medication used to reduce pain, fever, or inflammation and now it has been found to be an effective non–invasive small molecule-based nanotherapeutics against cataract.
  • INST is an autonomous institute under the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India.

Cataract:

  • It is a major form of blindness that occurs when the structure of crystallin proteins that make up the lens in human eyes deteriorates.
  • Such deterioration causes damaged or disorganised proteins to aggregate and form a milky blue or brown layer, which ultimately affects lens transparency.
  • As with aging and under various conditions, the lens protein crystallin aggregates to form opaque structures in the eye lens, which impairs vision and causes cataract.
  • Thus, prevention of the formation of these aggregates as well as their destruction in the early stage of disease progression is a major treatment strategy for cataracts.

Usage of Aspirin:

  • The scientists have used the anti-aggregation ability of self-build aspirin nanorods as an effective non –invasive small molecule-based nanotherapeutics against cataract.
  • It prevents the protein aggregation through biomolecular interactions, which convert it into coils and helices and consequently fail to aggregate.

Significance:

Aspirin nanorods due to their nano-size are expected to enhance bioavailability, improve drug loading, lower toxicity, etc. Hence, the delivery of the aspirin nanorods as eye drops is going to serve as an effective and viable option to treat cataract non-invasively. It is easy to use and a low-cost alternative nonsurgical treatment method and will benefit patients in developing countries who cannot access expensive cataract treatments and surgeries.

Source: PIB

UK to Issue Coin in Honour of Mahatma Gandhi

GS-II : International Relations Britain

UK to Issue Coin in Honour of Mahatma Gandhi

Britain is considering minting a coin to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi. The consideration is seen as part of efforts to celebrate achievements of people from the Black, Asian and other Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities.

The British Finance Minister has written a letter to the Royal Mint Advisory Committee (RMAC), to consider recognising the contribution of BAME communities on Britain's coinage. The RMAC is an independent committee made up of experts who recommend themes and designs for coins.

The RMAC supports a campaign called ‘We Too Built Britain’, which seeks representation of non-white icons on British currency.

Recently, the murder of a Black man, George Floyd, in the United States due to police butuality has led to Black Lives Matter protests against racism, colonialism and police brutality across the globe. Triggered by the death of George Floyd, some British institutions began re-examining their past, which includes their history, colonialism and racism.

Black Lives Matter Protest

  • It is a global movement advocating for non-violent civil disobedience in protest against incidents of police brutality and all racially motivated violence against African-American people.
  • Its mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.
  • The movement was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s (African-American) murderer in the USA.

Source: IE

Lakshadweep and environment

GS-III :

Lakshadweep and environment

Recently, the southern bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has granted an interim stay on felling of coconut trees on Agatti Island in Lakshadweep.

Background:

  • Recently, a petition was moved in the NGT over indiscriminate cutting of coconut trees for a beach road.
  • The tree-felling was violating the Union Territory’s (UT) Integrated Island Management Plan (IIMP).
  • IIMP was formulated on the basis of a report submitted by the Supreme Court-appointed Expert Committee, headed by Justice R.V. Raveendran, a former judge of the SC.
  • IIMP includes holistic island development plans prepared by the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM) for implementation by coastal States/ UTs.
  • The IIMP undertakes scientific approaches, coupled with indigenous knowledge for the better management of the islands and its resources.

Concerns:
Due to the large scale cutting of the coconut trees, local residents are affected by losing income from the tree produces. It also poses an environmental challenge because the trees on the coastline act as a green belt to protect the rest of the island during cyclones and other natural calamities.

Agatti Island

  • It is at a distance of 459 km (248 nautical miles) from Kochi (Kerala) and is located to the west of Kavaratti Island. Kavaratti is the capital of the UT of Lakshadweep.
  • It has an area of 3.84 sq km and has a north-east, south-west trend with a long tail on the south.
  • The lagoon area of this island is 17.50 sq km and there is plenty of coral growth and multicoloured coral fishes in the lagoons.
  • Fishing is the most important industry of Agatti which is perhaps the only island besides Minicoy getting surplus fish. Next to fishing, coir (coconut fibre) and copra (dried meat or kernel of the coconut) are the main industries.

Source: TH

Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Genetic Resources (MAPGRs)

GS-III : Economic Issues WTO

Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Genetic Resources (MAPGRs)

National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB) and ICAR-National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR) have entered into a MoU to conserve the Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Genetic Resources (MAPGRs). The conservation will be done in long-term storage module in the National Gene bank and/or at Regional Station for medium term storage module. The authorized institute NMPB and the ICAR-NBPGR on behalf of the ICAR would develop detailed modalities for seed storage of MAPGRs.

National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB)

It was set up in 2000. It is working under Ministry of AYUSH. Mandate – To develop appropriate mechanism for coordination for overall growth of medicinal plants sector both at the Central /State and International level.

National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources

  • It was established in 1977.
  • It is under Department of Agricultural Research and Education.
  • It plays a pivotal role in the improvement of various crop plants and diversification and development of agriculture through germplasm introduction.

Source: PIB

Yellow Fever

GS-III :

Yellow Fever

Yellow fever is caused by a virus that is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. These mosquitoes thrive in and near human habitations where they breed in even the cleanest water.

It is endemic in 34 countries in the sub-Saharan African region, despite the existence of a vaccine for the disease. There are three transmission ‘cycles’ for the disease in Africa - Urban, zoonotic and intermediate.

The urban cycle mediated by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes is responsible for explosive outbreaks. According to new study the disease is projected to shift to Central and East Africa from West Africa by 2050. The study also highlighted that vaccination is the most important and effective measure against yellow fever.

Source: PIB

Dhole

GS-III :

Dhole

Dhole is also known as Asian wild dog, Asiatic wild dog, Indian wild dog, whistling dog, red dog, and mountain wolf. Besides the tiger, the dhole is the only large carnivore in India that is under the IUCN’s ‘endangered’ category. It play an important role as apex predators in forest ecosystems. A research paper on conserving the endangered dhole was published in Mammal Review.

Highlights

  • Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh rank high in the conservation of the endangered dhole in India.
  • On the other hand, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Telangana and Goa will need to increase reduce the ease of granting forest clearances for infrastructure projects.
  • Improving habitat conditions and prey densities in the Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha would “strengthen the link” between dhole populations in the Western Ghats and central India.
  • India has the highest number of dholes in the world, but India don’t have targeted management plans for scientific monitoring of the species.

Source: TH

BeiDou

GS-III :

BeiDou

China’s administration has officially commissioned BeiDou Navigation Satellite System constellation. It was initiated in 1994. It aims to integrate its application in different sectors, including fishery, agriculture, special care, mass-market applications, forestry and public security.

It now offers services including accurate positioning, navigation and timing as well as short message communication. BeiDou uses a network of satellites and can provide positional accuracies of under 10 meters, whereas GPS provides positioning accuracies of under 2.2 meters. Chinese military has employed Beidou-guided conventional strike weapons to counter a US intervention in a potential contingency, if access to GPS is denied.

Navigation Systems of other countries are as follows

  • NAVIC – India
  • GPS - USA
  • GLONASS - Russia
  • GALILEO – EU

Source: TH

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