Environment - General awareness questions on current affairs

1)   How many of the 10 most polluted cities in India are covered by real time air quality monitor?
- Published on 20 Jan 17

a. 2
b. 3
c. 4
d. 5
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques


Only 2 of 10 most polluted cities are covered by government's real time air quality monitoring system.

Delhi and Faridabad are covered by the system.

More than one billion are unprepared for toxic episodes.

The country's air is now deadlier than China. Lack of real time monitoring ensures that current pollution levels cannot be checked.

Moreover, the government is unable to issue public warnings.

Around 88 million Indians or 7 percent of the population live in 33 cities that have online air pollution monitoring in real time.

Less than 10 percent of India's 380 urban agglomerations are covered.

The GoI runs monitoring networks covering more than 200 cities and towns. Measurements are not taken more than twice in a week and not available in real time.

Manual monitoring system means samples should be first sent to the lab to be assessed.

Government in China has built a particle pollution monitoring network covering 400 cities and including 1,500 monitoring stations, all posting data online in real time.

All of the Indian cities in the top 10 are experiencing levels of the particulate PM10 three-and-a-half times the annual legal limit.

It is also 10 times above international guidelines,.

4 of the top 10 most polluted cities are found in Jharkhand where there are coal mines.

Not a single city in northern India met international safety guidelines for particle pollution in 2015.

Less than 10% cities met India's national air quality standards, which are 3 times as high as the WHO safety guideline.

Moreover, coal consumption almost doubled and oil consumption increased 60 per cent from 2005 to 2015.

Emissions from coal-based power plants were the largest source of increase in SO2 and NOx emissions in the country.

These are two key pollutants contributing to India's particle pollution levels.

TERI and CSE have started calling for a national action plan on air pollution to expand measures to reduce emissions from key polluting sectors–power plants, industry, agriculture and transport– beyond individual cities.

National crisis has caused new emission standards and the launch of the National Air Quality Index.

National Air Quality Index: Know More

  • Air Quality Index (AQI) gives air quality information to people.
  • There are six AQI categories, namely Good, Satisfactory, Moderately polluted, Poor, Very Poor, and Severe.
  • The proposed AQI will consider eight pollutants (PM10, PM2.5, NO2, SO2, CO, O3, NH3, and Pb.
  • For this short-term (up to 24-hourly averaging period) National Ambient Air Quality Standards are prescribed.
  • Based on the measured ambient concentrations, corresponding standards and likely health impact, a sub-index is calculated for each of these pollutants.
  • The worst sub-index reflects overall AQI.

2)   Which are the major air pollutants?
- Published on 20 Jan 17

a. CO2
b. NO2
c. PM
d. All of the above
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: All of the above

This bicycle may be a low-cost, eco-friendly alternative to 2 wheeler motor vehicles. To reduce air pollution, scientists have designed the solar powered bike.

Bikes can switch between solar energy powered motor and pedals. Cost is pegged around INR 12 to 15,000.

India is the sixth largest motor vehicle manufacturer in 2014-2015, producing 23.4 million vehicles during that period.

2 wheeler production reached 18.5 million units in 2015. The vehicles have doubled in number in the past 20 years and have become a massive source of air pollution in urban India.

Major air pollutants emitted from vehicles include CO, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter.

Increasing air pollution has serious health effects, estimates pointing to 10 percent deaths per year from this.

Solar assisted bikes can reduce overall 60 percent of the vehicle pollution in the country. This comprises a brushless DC motor.

There is an electric throttle for speed control. The solar energy is stored by a lead acid battery.

The solar panel is mounted on a bicycle carrier and solar panels of any specification are used based on which energy is released.

With power supply from the solar panel to the hub motor, the wheels rotate and move. The rider can choose between pedals and motor or opt for both together.

Bicycle speed and other features can be customized to suit user needs.

3)   Which moth has been named after Donald Trump?
- Published on 20 Jan 17

a. Neopalpa donaldtrumpi
b. Deopalpa donaldtrumpi
c. Feopalpa donaldtrumpi
d. Teopalpa donaldtrumpi
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Neopalpa donaldtrumpi

Scientists have officially named a new endangered species of moth as Neopalpa donaldtrumpi.

It is found in parts of Southern California and Baja, Mexico.

It is named US president-elect Donald Trump.

The adult of the new discovered species stands out with yellowish-white scales on the head showing an amusing resemblance to Donald Trump’s hairstyle.

This was thus justifying scientists name for it.

4)   What does the SC appointed EPCA stand for?
- Published on 17 Jan 17

a. Environment Protection Control and Prevention Authority
b. Environment Pollution Control and Prevention Authority
c. Environmental Pollution Contamination and Prevention Authority
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Environment Protection Control and Prevention Authority

A host of emergency measures such as odd-even will kick off if pollution levels touch emergency proportions.

Centre has asked the SC appointed Environmental Pollution Control and Prevention Authority to enforce a graded response plan.

Pollution in Delhi-NCR has prompted the MoEF to assign the task to implement the plan to the EPCA under Environment Protection Act 1986.

As per sub-section (1) of section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986), the Central government hereby assigns the task of implementation of the Graded Response Action Plan.

Comprehensive plan has been prepared by the Central Pollution Control Board that submitted the report to the SC on Dec 2, 2016.

SC has accepted and asked the centre to notify the same.

Emergency measures such as odd-even car rationing and ban on construction activities will be enforced if the city PM 2.5 level breaches 300 mcg per cubic metre and PM 10 levels stay above 500 mcg per cubic metre for two consecutive days.

Prescribed standards of PM 2.5 and PM 10 are 60 and 100 mcg per cubic metre respectively.

Plan also recommends that during very poor air quality, diesel generators should be banned and parking free raised by 3-4 times.

Plan also said other measures include closing brick kilns, hot mix plants, stone crushers, intensifying public transport services and increase in mechanised cleaning of roads and sprinkling of water.

High levels of air pollution in Delhi-NCR have raised serious concerns and health problems.

Know More: CPCB

  • Formed: 22 September 1974
  • Employees: 500
  • Annual budget: ₹400 million (US$5.9 million)
  • Chairman: Sh. S.P. Singh Parihar, IAS
  • Member Secretary: Dr. A.B. Akolkar
  • Website: www.cpcb.nic.in

5)   What is India's first solar powered boat called?
- Published on 16 Jan 17

a. Kiran
b. Jyoti
c. Surya
d. Aditya
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Aditya

India’s first solar powered boat called ‘Aditya’ was launched at Kochi’s Vembanad lake in Kerala.

The boat is a 75 seater. It has 78 rooftop solar panels and is 20m in length. It is 7m wide.

The boat will offer ferry service along a 2.5 km route between Vaikom and Thavanakkadavu, 22 times a day.

It can travel at maximal speed of 14 kmph and cruises without noise and minimal vibration unlike diesel ferries.

Boat was manufactured at ship technology department of Cochin University of Science and Technology called CUSAT.

6)   What is the world's first air cleansing poem called?
- Published on 16 Jan 17

a. In Defence of Air
b. In Praise of Air
c. In Praise of Clean Air
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: In Praise of Air

A groundbreaking air cleansing poem called “In Praise of Air” has removed more than 2 tonnes of pollution from the environment in the UK.

This is part of the project used to fight pollution in cities across the globe. The poem is the world's first air cleansing poem.

It was produced by scientists and writers at UK's University of Sheffield.

The poem has been written by award winning writer Simon Armitrage, also professor of poetry at the University.

The poem has been printed on specially treated material developed by scientists at the University. It purifies its surroundings through catalytic oxidation.

The poem has been on display In the University of Sheffield's Alfred Denny Building. The project team has estimated the poem has removed two tonnes of NO2 from the surrounding environment.

The scientists are now looking to replicate the air cleansing technology in billboards and artwork to tackle pollution.

Pollution is a major issue for urban centers and technologies such as these can raise awareness and encourage pro-environmental behaviours.

Since 2014, this poem has been on exhibition. The paper on which the poem is printed can mitigate pollution, cut disease and help save lives.

Global Environment Policy Initiative Paris Agreement: Know More

  • Drafted: 30 November – 12 December 2015
  • Signed: 22 April 2016
  • Location: New York
  • Sealed: 12 December 2015
  • Effective: 4 November 2016
  • Condition: Ratification/Accession by 55 UNFCCC Parties, accounting for 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Signatories: 194
  • Parties: 125
  • Depositary: Secretary-General of the United Nations
  • Languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish

7)   Who has a new species of Gibbon in China been named after?
- Published on 13 Jan 17

a. Skywalker
b. Star Wars Character
c. Both are same
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Both are same

Scientists have discovered a new species of gibbon living in south-west China’s rainforests.

It has been named the Skywalker Hoolock Gibbon by its discoverers, who are Star Wars fans.

The name is also a nod to the fact that the Chinese characters Hoolock tianxing, mean “Heaven’s movement.”

The research team, led by Fan Peng-Fei from Sun Yat-sen University in China, first suspected that the gibbons they were studying in Gaoligongshan nature reserve were different. They lacked typical facial markings of white eyebrows and beards.

Gibbons are renowned for their loud song, which they use to mark territory, and this also sounded unusual.

The scientists estimate that about 200 Skywalker gibbons are living in China and also potentially in neighbouring Myanmar, but say that the species should already be classified as endangered.

Habitat loss and fragmentation is putting the gibbons at risk of extinction.

8)   US Army is planning to use special biodegradable bullets loaded with __________
- Published on 13 Jan 17

a. Special seeds that sprout into plants
b. Seeds that reduce pollution in training grounds
c. Both of the above
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Both of the above

The US Army is planning to use biodegradable bullets loaded with special seeds that sprout into plants eliminating ammunition debris and contaminants, reducing soil pollution in training grounds.

Spent shells litter training facilities across the world. Shells contain metals and other chemicals which can rust and pollute groundwater and soils.

US Department of Defense are soliciting proposals for biodegradable bullets loaded with seeds to grow environmentally beneficial plants.

These eliminate ammunition debris and contaminants. The US Army has developed and tested the seeds which can be embedded into biodegradable composite.

These seeds have been bioengineered to germinate only after they have been in the ground for several months.

Plants that grow from these seeds could also remove soil contaminants and feed local wildlife.

9)   A massive ice block off the Antarctica ____ ice shelf, 100 times the size of Manhattan, will break off, say ecologists.
- Published on 09 Jan 17

a. Larsen A
b. Larsen B
c. Larsen C
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Larsen C

A massive ice block nearly 100 times the area of Manhattan is poised to break off Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf, scientists reported on 6th Jan 2017.

A slow-progressing rift suddenly grew by 18 kilometres (11 miles) at the end of December, leaving the finger-shaped chunk- 350 metres thick- connected along only a small fraction of its length.

The rift has also widened, from less than 50 metres (160 feet) in 2011 to nearly 500 metres in Jan 2017.

The real danger is from inland glaciers, held in place by the floating, cliff-like ice shelves that straddle land and sea. The fragile West Antarctic ice sheet - where Larsen C is located - holds enough frozen water to raise global oceans by at least four metres (13 feet).

Recent studies have suggested that climate change may already have condemned large chunks of it to disintegration, though whether on a time scale of centuries or millennia is not known.

The breaking off, or calving, of ice shelves is a natural process, but global warming is thought to have accelerated the process.

Warming ocean water erodes their underbelly, while rising air temperatures weaken them from above. The nearby Larsen A ice shelf collapsed in 1995, and Larsen B dramatically broke up seven years later.

The ice block currently separating from Larsen C contains about 10 percent of its mass, and would be among the 10 largest break-offs ever recorded.

If all the ice held back by Larsen C entered the sea, it would lift global oceans by about 10 centimetres (four inches).

Oceans in recent decades have absorbed much of the excess heat generated by climate change, which has lifted average global air temperatures by one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit).

Paris agreement

  • The world's nations have undertaken in the Paris Agreement.
  • It was inked in the French capital in December 2015.
  • It aims to to cap global warming at "well under" two degrees Celsius (3.5 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial era levels.

10)   Center has approved INR 370 crore for ongoing rejuvenation programme for the River Ganga in which city/ies?
- Published on 03 Jan 17

a. Haridwar
b. Varanasi
c. Both of the above
d. Neither of the above
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: Both of the above

Government of India has approved new projects at cost of INR 370 crores for the ongoing Ganga rejuvenation programme in Haridwar and Varanasi.

The Centre also decided to include six more towns/ cities under the surface cleaning exercise of the river using trash skimmers.

Surface cleaning of the river Ganga in the cities - Rishikesh, Haridwar, Garh Mukhteshwar, Sahibganj, Kolkata and Navdweep - will begin in Jan 2017.

Urban local bodies will be the nodal agency to monitor this work, approved by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG).

The number of cities to be covered under the river surface cleaning plan has now reached 12.

The 'Namami Gange' programme was launched as a mission to achieve the target of cleaning river Ganga in an effective manner by involving all stakeholders, especially five major Ganga basin states i.e. Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal.

The programme envisages river surface cleaning, STP infrastructure, river front development, bio-diversity, afforestation and public awareness. The new projects, approved by the NMCG for Haridwar, include setting up 68 million litres per day (MLD) sewage treatment plant (STP) in Jagjeetpur and 14 MLD STP in Sarai at an indicative cost of INR 110.30 crore and INR 25 crore, respectively, under Hybrid Annuity based PPP mode.

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