Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Perseverance rover by NASA

Sarat Chandra IAS Academy -UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 11th August-2021

Topics

  • Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
  • Slowing down of Atlantic Ocean current system
  • The India Plastics Pact
  • Monetary Policy report by RBI
  • National Mission on Edible Oil-Oil Palm (NMEO-OP)
  • Perseverance rover by NASA

 

1.Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

#GS3 # Environmental Pollution & Degradation # Greenhouse Gas Effect & Global Warming

Context: Recently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the 01st part of its 6th Assessment Report called ‘Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis’

  • The report brings together the conclusions from more than 14,000 peer-reviewed studies.
  • The authors conclude that it is “unambiguous” that humans have warmed the planet, causing “widespread and rapid” changes to Earth’s oceans, ice and land surface.
  • They warn that the current state of several parts of the climate system is “unprecedented over many centuries to many thousands of years”.
  • It sets the stage for the Conference of Parties (CoP) 26 conference in November 2021

Highlights of the report:

Average Surface Temperature:

  • In almost all emissions circumstances, global warming is expected to hit 1.5C “in the early 2030s”. And without reaching “net-zero” CO2 emissions – along with “strong reductions” in other greenhouse gases – the climate system will continue to warm.
  • The last decade was hotter than any period of time in the past 1,25,000 years. Global surface temperature was 1.09°C higher in the decade between 2011-2020 than between 1850-1900.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) Concentrations:

  • People have released 2,400 billion tonnes of CO2 since the late 1800s.
  • Most of this can be credited to human actions, mostly the burning of fossil fuels.
  • These human activities have warmed the climate at a rate unparalleled in 2,000 years.
  • The world has already exhausted 86% of its available carbon budget.

Effects of Global warming:

  • Sea-level rise has tripled compared with 1901-1971.
  • Coastal areas will see constant sea-level rise all over the 21st century, resulting in coastal erosion and more frequent and severe flooding in low-lying areas.
  • Each 0.5-degree rise in temperature will result in hot extremes, extreme precipitation and drought and also weaken the Earth’s carbon sinks existing in plants, soils, and the ocean.
  • The freezing level of mountains are expected to change and snowlines will retreat over the coming years.
  • Retreating snowlines and melting glaciers can lead to alteration in the water cycle, the precipitation patterns, increased floods as well as an worsening water scarcity condition in the future in the states across the Himalayas.

Indian Sub-continent Specific Findings:

  • Heatwaves and humid heat stress will be more powerful and frequent during the 21st century.
  • Changes in monsoon precipitation are also anticipated, with both annual and summer monsoon precipitation expected to increase.
  • As per the report, the leading cause of the decrease of South and Southeast Asian monsoon precipitation since mid-20th century is the increase in aerosols and particulate matter due to human activity.
  • Report also predicted that in the long-term, South and Southeast Asian monsoon and East Asian summer monsoon precipitation will increase.
  • In the Indian Ocean, the sea temperature is heating at a advanced rate than other areas, and therefore may impact other regions.
  • The sea surface temperature over Indian ocean is likely to increase by 1 to 2 °C when there is 1.5°C to 2°C global warming.
  • The global mean sea level in the Indian Ocean is rising at 3.7 mm annually.
  • Extreme sea-level events, that previously happened once every 100 years, will now be seen almost annually.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

  • It is the international body for assessing the science associated with climate change.
  • It was set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to offer policymakers with regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its effects and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation.
  • IPCC assessments offer a scientific source for governments at all levels to create climate related policies, and they inspire negotiations at the UN Climate Conferences.

 

2.Slowing down of Atlantic Ocean current system

#GS1 # Oceanography # Movement of Oceans – Waves, Tides, Currents # Climatology #Atmospheric Circulation & Weather Systems

Context: According to a study published recently in Nature Climate Change North Atlantic Ocean circulation, known officially as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), is losing its stability.

  • And, as per the IPCC’s Report (AR6) released on August 9, it is very likely that AMOC will decline over the 21st century.

What is AMOC:

  • It is a large system of ocean currents.
  • It is the Atlantic branch of the ocean conveyor belt or ThermoHaline Circulation (THC), and dispenses heat and nutrients all over the world’s ocean basins.
    • Density differences in ocean water results in a global-scale circulation system, also called the global conveyor belt.
    • It includes both surface and deep ocean currents that circulate the globe in a 1,000-year cycle.

  • AMOC transports warm surface waters from the tropics towards the Northern Hemisphere, where it cools and sinks.
  • It then comes back to the tropics and then to the South Atlantic as a bottom current. From there it is circulated to all ocean basins via the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.
  • The ACC is the most important current in the Southern Ocean, and the only current that flows completely around the globe.

Consequences AMOC Collapse:

  • Without a proper AMOC and Gulf Stream, Europe will experience a very cold climate.
    • Gulf Stream, a part of the AMOC, is a warm current responsible for mild climate at the Eastern coast of North America as well as Europe.
  • There will be reduced rainfall in Europe and cooling over of Northern hemisphere if/when AMOC shuts down.
    • Cooling over of Northern North Atlantic and adjacent areas will result in increase in sea ice over the Greenland-Iceland-Norwegian seas and to the south of Greenland, and a significant southward rain-belt migration over the tropical Atlantic.
  • It can also impact the El Nino, which can shift monsoons in South America and Africa.

Causes:

  • Climate models have long projected that global warming can result in weakening of the major ocean systems of the world.
  • In July 2021, researchers observed that a part of the Arctic’s ice called “Last Ice Area” has also melted.
  • Freshwater from melting Greenland ice sheets and the Arctic region can make circulation weaker as it is not as dense as saltwater and doesn’t sink to the bottom.
    • The freshwater from the melting ice reduces the salinity and density of the water.
  • Indian Ocean may also be helping the slowing down of AMOC due to increasing precipitation and river run-off.

Significance of AMOC:

  • It plays a critical role in redistributing heat and regulating weather patterns around the world.

Has the AMOC weakened before?

  • Strength of AMOC and THC has always been instable, especially during Pleistocene time period (last 1 million years).
    • The extreme glacial stages have seen weaker circulation and slowdown in AMOC, while the glacial terminations have shown a stronger AMOC and circulation.
  • But the changes we experience in the last 100-200 years are human caused, and these unforeseen changes are destabilising the AMOC, which could collapse the system.

Concerns:

  • The AMOC decline is not just a fluctuation or a linear response to increasing temperatures but likely means the approaching of a critical threshold beyond which the circulation system could collapse.
  • In February 2021, scientists observed that AMOC is at its weakest in over a millennium.
  • As per the latest climate models, with this rate of Global warming, the Gulfstream System will weaken further – by 34 to 45 percent by 2100. This would bring us dangerously close to the tipping point at which the flow becomes unstable.

OCEAN CURRENTS

 

3.The India Plastics Pact

#GS3 # Environmental Pollution & Degradation # Causes/Sources #Prevention & Control

Context: The India Plastics Pact, will be launched in September in partnership with Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

What are Plastic Pacts:

  • The Plastics Pacts are business-led initiatives and transform the plastics packaging value chain for all formats and products.
  • The Pacts work together with everyone from across the plastics value chain to implement feasible solutions.
  • All Pacts unite behind 04 targets:
    • To remove unnecessary and problematic plastic packaging through redesign and innovation;
    • To guarantee all plastic packaging is reusable or recyclable,
    • To increase the reuse, collection, and recycling of plastic packaging,
    • And to increase recycled content in plastic packaging.
  • The first Plastics Pact was started in the U.K. in 2018.

About India Plastics pact:

  • The India Plastics Pact is an ambitious, collaborative initiative that aims to bring together businesses, governments and NGOs across the whole value chain to set time-bound commitments to reduce plastics from their value chains.
  • The Pact aims to transform the current linear plastics system into a circular plastics economy that will:

  • The Pact will create a unified national framework for a circular economy for plastics with aligned targets and associated reporting.
  • The vision, targets and ambition of the India Plastics Pact are aligned with the circular economy principles of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy.
    • Principles in Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy based on principles:
      • Design out waste and pollution.
      • Keep products and materials in use.
      • Regenerate natural systems.
    • It aims to promote public-private partnerships that allow solutions to eliminate the plastics we do not need, bring novelty to packaging design, and to capture the value of the plastics we use.
    • All stakeholders will support a joint set of ambitious and time-bound targets, ensuring that this collaboration will drive significant change by 2030
    • It will provide a platform for collaboration, learning and tangible action.
    • The Indian Plastics Pact will also shape on the positive work started by other initiatives and help step up and disseminate good practice more.

Necessity for Plastic Pacts in India:

What is expected out of this pact:

  • It is likely to boost demand for recycled materials, investments in recycling infrastructure, employment opportunities in the waste sector, and many more.
  • The Pact will support the Extended Producer Responsibility framework of the union government and improve solid waste management as planned in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
  • Integral to the Pact’s framework is the participation of the informal waste sector vital to post-consumer segregation, collection and processing of plastic waste.
  • Achieving the targets will drive circularity of plastics and help address the issue of plastic pollution.
  • They will also lead to substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

 

4.Monetary Policy report by RBI

#GS3 # Mobilisation of Resources #Growth and Development

Context: The Reserve Bank of India has announced the bi-monthly Monetary Policy Report (MPR).

  • It kept the policy rate unchanged for the 07th straight meeting. And appealed to the centre and states to cut taxes on fuels to control inflationary pressures.
  • The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) continues to maintain its ‘Accommodative’ stance.
    • An accommodative stance means a RBI will cut rates to inject money into the financial system whenever needed.

Policy Highlights:

  • Repo Rate is kept unchanged at 4%.
  • Reverse Repo Rate at 3.35%.
  • Marginal Standing Facility (MSF) at 4.25%.
  • Bank Rate at 4.25%.
  • Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth for 2021-22 has been kept at 9.5%.
  • CPI inflation is projected at 5.7 % during 2021-22 – this consists of 5.9% in Q2, 5.3% in Q3 and 5.8% in Q4 of 2021-22 with risks broadly balanced.
  • CPI inflation for the first quarter of 2022-23 is projected at 5.1%

Variable Rate Reverse Repos:

  • In order to absorb excess liquidity in the banking system, the RBI announced conducting a Variable Rate Reverse Repo (VRRR) program due to the higher yield projections as compared to the fixed rate overnight reverse repo.
  • This will pave the way for the impending exit from unconventional monetary easing.
  • RBI also increased the amount of money it will absorb from the financial system through this program from Rs 2 lakh crore to Rs 4 lakh crore every two weeks from September 24.
  • It also extended the liquidity support to banks to lend to stressed businesses by another 03 months to 31th December 2021.

Interest Rates:

  • Raised up inflation level and overdue recovery in the economy has driven the panel to keep rates fixed.
  • Recovery faced rough weather due to the Covid second wave and lockdowns in states

Optimism For Recovery:

Robust Demand:

  • With the reduction in second wave of infections, domestic economic activity had started to recover with accelerated vaccination.
  • RBI expected agricultural production and rural demand to remain strong.
  • Urban demand was likely to fix with a lag as manufacturing and non-contact intensive services resumed at a stronger pace, and the release of constrained demand developed a durable character with accelerated vaccination.
  • High-frequency indicators (electricity consumption, night-time lights intensity and nitrogen dioxide emissions) shows that consumption (both private and Government), investment and external demand are all on the path of regaining traction.

Monetary Policy Report:

  • The MPR is issued by the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of RBI.
  • The MPC is a statutory and institutionalized framework under the RBI Act, 1934, for maintaining price stability, while keeping in mind the objective of growth.
  • The MPC determines the policy interest rate required to achieve the inflation target of 4% with a leeway of 2% points on either side.
  • The RBI Governor is ex-officio Chairman of the MPC.

 

5.National Mission on Edible Oil-Oil Palm (NMEO-OP)

#GS3# Food Processing & Related Industries in India

# Transport & Marketing of Agricultural Produce & Issues & Related Constraints

Context: Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced a National Mission on Edible Oil-Oil Palm to boost palm oil production and help increase farm incomes.

  • The scheme involves investment of over Rs 11,000 crore.

Aims and Objectives of the scheme:

  • To boost domestic oilseed production and make the country self-sufficient in cooking oils.
  • Harness domestic edible oil prices that are decided by expensive palm oil imports.
  • To raise the domestic production of palm oil by three times to 11 lakh MT by 2025-26.

Components of the scheme:

  • The special stress of the scheme will be in north-eastern states and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands due to the favourable weather circumstances in the regions.
  • Under the scheme, oil palm farmers will be given financial assistance and will get remuneration under a price and viability formula.
  • This will also help farmers and producers by providing them with quality seeds and technology to promote farming to produce palm oil and other oil seeds.

Significance and need of the scheme:

  • It is expected to incentivise production of palm oil to reduce dependence on imports and help farmers cash in on the huge market.
  • India is the largest consumer of vegetable oil in the world. Of this, palm oil imports are almost 60% of its total vegetable oil imports.
  • India’s vegetable oil imports have surged to 1.5 crore tonnes from 40 lakh tonnes in just 20 years.
  • As per the traders and industry officials, these imports could reach 20 million by 2030, boosted by a growing population with higher incomes and a taste for calorie-laden curry and fried food.
  • 97 percent of palm oil in India is imported from Malaysia and Indonesia.
  • In 2016-2017, with an average price of Rs 520 per 10 kg, India’s palm oil import bill was approximately Rs 47,000 crore.
  • India imports soy oil from Brazil and Argentina, and sunflower oil, mainly from Russia and Ukraine.
  • India is producing only 1.027 per cent of its requirement.

  • Also, in India, 94.1 per cent of its palm oil is used in food products, especially for cooking purposes. This makes palm oil extremely critical to India’s edible oils economy.
    • The European Union and China use only 46% and 58% respectively of their palm oil in food-related productions while the rest goes into cosmetics, oleochemical, and pharmaceutical products.

Palm oil:

  • Palm oil at present is the world’s most consumed vegetable oil.
  • It is used extensively in the production of detergents, plastics, cosmetics, and biofuels.
  • Top consumers of the commodity are India, China, and the European Union (EU).

 

6.Perseverance rover by NASA

#GS3 #Science and technology- Awareness in Space

Context: Perseverance rover is exploring the Jezero Crater on Mars and attempting to collect its first rock samples.

  • According to data sent to Earth by the rover, no rock samples were collected during the first attempt.
  • Sampling Mars is one of the most complex tasks and includes drilling holes, collecting and then storing the samples in test tubes.

About Perseverance Rover:

  • It was launched in 2020 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V.
  • Duration: At least one Mars year (about 687 Earth days).
  • Perseverance is the most advanced, most expensive and most sophisticated mobile laboratory sent to Mars.

Why is this mission significant?

  • The Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover will search for signs of ancient microbial life, which will advance NASA’s quest to explore the past habitability of Mars.
  • Rover will also test technologies to help pave the way for future human exploration of Mars.
  • It carried Ingenuity, the first ever helicopter to fly on Mars.

The Perseverance rover has 5 science objectives:

  • Looking for Habitability: Identify past environments capable of supporting microbial life.
  • Seeking Biosignatures: Seek signs of possible past microbial life in those habitable environments, particularly in special rocks known to preserve signs of life over time.
  • Caching Samples: Collect core rock and “soil” samples and store them on the Martian surface.
  • Preparing for Humans: Test oxygen production from the Martian atmosphere.

Reasons behind Frequent Missions to Mars:

  • First, Mars is a planet where life may have evolved in the past. Environment on early Mars roughly around 4 billion years ago were very similar to that of Earth.
  • It had a thick atmosphere, which allowed the stability of water on the surface of Mars
  • If conditions on Mars were similar to those on Earth, there is a real possibility that microscopic life evolved on Mars.
  • Mars is the only planet that humans can visit or inhabit in the long term.
    • Venus and Mercury have extreme temperatures – the average temperature is greater than 400 degree C.
    • All planets in the outer solar system starting with Jupiter are made of gas – not silicates or rocks – and are very cold.
  • Mars is comparatively welcoming in terms of temperature, with a range between 20 degrees C at the Equator to minus 125 degrees C at the poles.

 

 

 

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