Environment - Current Affairs for July, 2017

Environment Current Affairs for July, 2017

Month wise coverage of Environment Current Affairs helps you improve your general knowledge and prepare for all competitive exams like IBPS, Bank PO, SBI PO, RRB, RBI, LIC, Specialist Officer, Clerk, SSC, UPSC, Railway etc. This section is updated daily with the most important events.

Preparing Environment Current Affairs July, 2017

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▼ DMRC first green metro service in the world   [07-31-17]

The Delhi Metro Railway Corporation (DMRC) has become the world’s first completely ‘green’ Metro system for adhering to green building norms for its residential colonies.

In this regard, Delhi Metro has secured the platinum rating for adherence to green building norms for its 10 residential colonies from the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC).

The Delhi Metro is a metro system serving Delhi and its satellite cities of Gurugram, Faridabad, Noida and Ghaziabad in National Capital Region (NCR).

It is the world’s 12th longest metro system in length and 16th largest in ridership.

It is built and operated by DMRC, a state-owned company with equal equity participation from Union Government and Government of Delhi.

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has financed 60% of the project cost in the form of soft loan under Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

In 2008, DMRC was the first railway project in the world to be registered by the United Nations under the CDM, enabling it to claim carbon credits.

In 2015, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) had registered DMRC as the world’s first transport sector project under the Program of Activities (PoA), making it the managing entity for all other Metros of India.

IGBC: Know More

  • The IGBC is part of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) formed in 2001.
  • It offers a wide array of services including developing new green building rating programmes, green building training programmes and certification services.
  • It also organises Green Building Congress, its annual flagship event on green buildings.
  • It closely works with several State Governments, Central Government, World Green Building Council, bilateral multi-lateral agencies in promoting green building concepts in the country.

▼ World get’s its first full scale floating wind farm   [07-26-17]

The world’s first full - scale floating wind farm is being built off the coast of Scotland in the North Sea.

The wind farm, known as Hywind is a trial project which aims to bring power to 20,000 homes.

The floating wind farm technology will allow wind power to be harvested in waters that are too deep for the existing bottom - standing turbines particularly installed in shallow waters.

Unlike normal turbines, floating turbines are not attached to the seabed by foundations.

Rather, they are attached by long mooring tethers, allowing them to be placed in deep water.

Traditional fixed turbines work best at a depth of 20-50m on stationary base.

Hywind: Know More

  • The park will be around four square kilometres in size in deep sea.
  • Each turbine in the park will be floating at a depth of between 95 and 120 metres.
  • Each turbine tower, including the blades in the floating wind park is 175m high and weighs 11,500 tonnes. It uses a large buoy filled with iron ore to weight the base to keep it upright.
  • The turbines also make use of new blade technology, which twists the blades in order to lessen the impact of wind, waves and currents to hold turbine tower upright.
  • The turbines in the floating wind farm can operate in water up to a kilometre deep.
  • The power output is also larger than power generation from current stationary turbines.
  • This revolutionary tech development project will demonstrate workability of floating wind farm technology in open sea conditions and also help to bring costs down.

▼ Save Western Ghats March celebrates 30th anniversary   [07-24-17]

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the remarkable but relatively little known ‘Save Western Ghats March’ , a response to the socio-ecological challenges the area grappled with.

A diverse set of people - scientists, anthropologists, sociologists, activists, journalists and local communities—marched together for 100 days along the length of ghats and met at a conference in Goa to discuss the issues.

The march was as much an exercise in envisioning the future as it was an acknowledgement of the past—of the extreme richness of this ancient mountain range that extends from River Tapti to Kanyakumari.

Straddling six states, from Gujarat to Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the 1600-odd kilometre-long Western Ghats is home to an astonishing diversity of life and supports innumerable human communities and cultures.

It is an ecosystem that is 50 million years old; humans made an entry here only 12,000-15,000 years ago.

250 million people living in peninsular India are nourished by the many rivers that originate here.

The forests are also home to hundreds of globally threatened species, including rare and unique ones like the Malabar torrent toad, the Nilgiri langur, Wroughton’s free-tailed bat, the Nilgiri laughing thrush and many species of caecilians, the limbless amphibians.

The Western Ghats are recognised today as one of the world’s top 35 biodiversity hotspots and for very good reason.

The idea of a ‘biodiversity hotspot’ was first articulated only in 1988.

The mountain range is dotted by a number of wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, tiger and elephant reserves and traditional sacred groves (devrai in Maharashtra, deverakadu in Kodagu and kavu in Kerala) that have existed for centuries.

Previous initiatives include 1970s agitation to save Silent Valley in Kerala from a dam project, the large conservation research and action project initiated here under the aegis of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF).

A much more recent effort was to declare large parts of the ghats ecosensitive.

It is estimated that only a third of the mountain range is still under natural vegetation, and this too is highly fragmented and degraded.

The Save Western Ghats March from three decades ago remains hugely relevant - the Western Ghats are unique, important and still under threat.

▼ Castor bean plant to fight soil pollution!   [07-24-17]

According to study conducted by researchers from University of Hyderabad, Castor bean plants can prove useful in fighting soil pollution.

It was found that these plants can absorb toxic heavy metals from soil from these polluted areas due to industrial pollution.

The roots, leaves and stem of these plants from the polluted areas contain heavy metals such as lead. It was also observed that these plants accelerate the remediation of polluted soils due to presence of some chemicals in them known as chelators which enhances the capability of the plant to accumulate heavy metals.

Castor seed plants are generally known to be one of the sturdiest plants that can grow in areas where the soil is highly polluted, including in areas where mining is carried out.

Traditionally, Castor oil (also known as ‘Arandi ka tel’ in Hindi) has been an age old home remedy for a variety of ailments in India.

This study highlights how castor plants which are having medical properties can also prove a boon in remediation in soil pollution.

Government bodies can take a cue out of this study for natural remediation of soil pollution.

Castor oil known as ‘Amudham’ in Telugu has been an age old home remedy for a variety of ailments in India but the castor bean plant has another use which can prove useful in fighting a major problem - soil pollution.

Castor seed plant is known to be one of the most sturdiest plants which has been observed growing in areas where the soil is highly polluted, including in areas where mining is carried out.

Castor plants growing in these areas absorb toxic heavy metals from soil.

Castor bean plants can be grown in such polluted lands and over a period of time the levels of heavy metals can be reduced in the soil.

▼ Projects for climate change approved in 3 states   [07-21-17]

The Union Environment Ministry approved three projects for climate change adaptation in three states viz. Rajasthan, Gujarat and Sikkim for funding under the National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change (NAFCC).

In this regard, the National Steering Committee on Climate Change (NSCCC) headed by Environment Secretary has approved the Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) submitted by these three state governments.

The investment aims to address the issue of water security which are directly identified as climate resilience building interventions under the SAPCC.

It also aims to bolster water security in villages under the Mukhya Mantri Jal Swavlamban Abhiyan.

It aims to enhance the adaptive capacity of villages by making them self-reliant in terms of water requirement.

The project seeks enhance the adaptive capacity of natural resource dependent communities to climate change in targeted villages of Kachchh district.

NAFCC: Know More

  • NAFCC is a flagship Scheme of Union Government launched in 2015 to provide 100% central grant to the State Governments for implementing climate change adaptation projects.
  • The Scheme has been designed to fulfill the objectives of National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) and operationalize the State Action Plans on Climate Change (SAPCCs).
  • The objective of the fund is to assist states/UTs that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change in meeting the cost of adaptation.
  • The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) is the National Implementing Entity (NIE) responsible for implementation of adaptation projects under the NAFCC.
  • Under this scheme, Union Government encourages States to come up with innovative and scalable projects to develop resilience against climate change and mainstream it in the planning processes.

▼ Tata Motors rolls out India’s first bio CNG bus   [07-19-17]

Auto major Tata Motors today rolled out the country’s first bio - CNG (bio - methane) bus.

The company said the bio-methane engines (5.7 SGI & 3.8 SGI) will be available on light and medium buses.

The company displayed three models, including the lead model Tata LPO 1613 with 5.7 SGI NA BS - IV IOBD - II compliant bus.

The Tata LPO 1613, already in operation by Pune Municipal Transport Corporation, was showcased with bio - methane fuel at the event.

The buses were showcased at the Urja Utsav organised by oil ministry.

Using bio - CNG will contribute in a positive manner to the smart cities to keep them clean and is a good option for wet garbage management.

The bio - methane bus is a step towards developing environment - friendly vehicles.

Bio-methane is produced out of biodegradable materials like kitchen waste. The gas, which gets produced by way of natural degradation process, escapes into the atmosphere unused.

The firm, which is India’s largest commercial vehicles manufacturer, said the bio-methane engines could be used in LCV, ICV and MCV buses.

At the Urja Utsav held in Pune’s Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Tata displayed three engines, along with the lead model - Tata LPO 1613 with 5.7 SGI NA BS-IV IOBD-II compliant bus.

In the past, Tata Motors has introduced technologies in CNG engines like sequential gas injection technology, skip fire, plug type coils, long life spark plugs and longer oil drain intervals.

▼ Trillion tonne iceberg breaks, West Antarctic ice shelf loses 12% surface area   [07-14-17]

A trillion-tonne iceberg, one of the largest ever recorded, has snapped off the West Antarctic ice shelf, scientists who have monitored the growing crack for years indicated.

The calving occurred sometime between Monday, July 10 and Wednesday, July 12, when a 5,800-square kilometre (2,200-square mile) section of Larsen C (ice shelf) finally broke away.

The massive ice cube, larger than the US state of Delaware, has a volume twice that of Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes. It is about 350 metres (1,100 feet) thick.

The iceberg weighs more than a trillion tonnes, but it was already floating before it calved away so has no immediate impact on sea level. It will likely be named A68.

With the calving, the Larsen C ice shelf lost more than 12% of its total surface area.

Icebergs calving from the Antarctica are a regular occurrence. But given its enormous size, the latest berg will be closely watched as it travels, for any potential risk to shipping traffic.

The calving may have heightened the risk of the remaining ice shelf disintegrating.

Ice shelves float on the sea, extending from the coast, and are fed by slow-flowing glaciers from the land.

They act as giant brakes, preventing glaciers from flowing directly into the ocean.

If the glaciers held in check by Larsen C spilt into the Antarctic Ocean, it would lift the global water mark by about 10 centimetres (four inches).

The calving of ice shelves occurs naturally, though global warming is believed to have accelerated the process.

Warmer ocean water erodes the underbelly of the ice shelves, 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 final break was detected by a NASA satellite.

The fate of the berg is hard to predict. It may stay in one piece, but could also break into fragments.

Human actions have lifted average global air temperatures by about one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial levels, according to scientists.

Antarctica is one of the world’s fastest-warming regions.

▼ Sixth mass extinction underway on Planet Earth!   [07-14-17]

The sixth mass extinction of life on Earth is unfolding more quickly than feared, scientists have warned.

More than 30% of animals with a backbone - fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals - are declining in both range and population, according to the first comprehensive analysis of these trends.

This is the case of a biological annihilation occurring globally.

Around a decade ago, experts feared that a new planetary wipeout of species was looming.

Today, most agree that it is under way - but the new study suggests that the die-out is already ratcheting up a gear.

It provides much-needed data about the threat to wildlife, mapping the dwindling ranges and population of 27,600 species. For 177 mammals, researchers combed through data covering the period 1900 to 2015.

The mammal species that were monitored have lost at least a third of their original habitat, the researchers found.

Forty per cent of them - including rhinos, orangutans, gorillas and many big cats - are surviving on 20% or less of the land they once roamed. The loss of biodiversity has recently accelerated.

Several species of mammals that were relatively safe one or two decades ago are now endangered,” including cheetahs, lions and giraffes.

Globally, the mass die-off - deemed to be the sixth in the last half-billion years - is the worst since three-quarters of life on the Earth, including the non-avian dinosaurs, were wiped out 66 million years ago by a giant meteor impact.

On an average, two vertebrate species disappear every year.

Tropical regions have seen the highest number of declining species. In South and Southeast Asia, large-bodied species of mammals have lost more than four-fifths of their historical ranges.

While fewer species are disappearing in temperate zones, the percentage is just as high or higher.

As many as half of the number of animals that once shared our planet are no longer here, a loss the authors described as “a massive erosion of the greatest biological diversity in the history of Earth”.

By comparison, there are as few as 20,000 lions left in the wild, less than 7,000 cheetahs, 500 to 1,000 giant pandas, and about 250 Sumatran rhinoceros.

Causes of Extinction

  • The main drivers of wildlife decline are habitat loss, overconsumption, pollution, invasive species, disease.
  • Also a cause is poaching in the case of tigers, elephants, rhinos and other large animals prized for their body parts.
  • Climate change is poised to become a major threat in the coming decades.

▼ NGT bans synthetic manjas   [07-13-17]

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed nationwide blanket ban on the use of kite strings (manja), made of nylon or any synthetic material on the grounds that it poses a threat to animals and humans.

The judgement of Tribunal came on a plea filed by animal rights body People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and others.

The petition filed by PETA and others had contended that ‘manja’ poses a grave threat to humans and animals as a number of deaths are caused by it every year.

It has also alleged that sometimes these strings coated with sharp metals, traps and kill migratory birds.

It also claimed that minor children were engaged by the cottage industry for the manufacture of ‘manja’, which caused respiratory problems as they inhaled harmful substances which were detrimental to their health.

The Tribunal has directed all state governments to prohibit the manufacture, sale, storage, purchase and use of synthetic manja or nylon threads and all other synthetic strings used for flying kites with immediate effect.

It also ordered the authorities across the country to ban import of any synthetic manja or nylon thread or other similar threads coated with synthetic substances.

About National Green Tribunal (NGT)

  • The NGT was established in 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources.
    It is a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues.
  • It also includes enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith.
  • It adjudicates matters relating to Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974; Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974; Environment (Protection) Act, 1986; Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991; Forest Conservation Act and Biological Diversity Act.
  • The NGT is guided by principles of natural justice and not bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
  • It is mandated to make and endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing.
  • New Delhi is the Principal Place of Sitting NGT. Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai are other regional sitting of the Tribunal.

▼ Meet Lycosa Aragogi - The wolf spider crab!   [07-10-17]

A wolf spider crab species has been named after Aragog - a giant, talking arachnid from J K Rowling’s popular fantasy Harry Potter series.

Researchers, including those from University of Tehran in Iran have named the newfound spider ‘Lycosa aragogi’ which has a one inch long body (excluding the legs).

It has two black and three white stripes of setae, or hairs, on its upper body.

The arachnid also has black setae on the appendages by its mouth, ‘giving the spider a charismatic look,’ while its abdomen is covered with black and white setae.

The animatronic puppet created for the movie ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’ was based on the anatomy of a wolf spider.

Since it was also the 20th anniversary of the series, scientists thought it might be a good idea and celebration of this wonderful franchise.

The spider was spotted in a mountainous region of southeastern Iran’s Kerman Province.

Large wolf spiders do not build webs, but stay in their burrows during the day and hunt at nighttime, stalking their prey.

Most live for about three years

Wolf spiders carry their egg sacs on their bodies and periodically expose the developing spiders to light and heat from the sun for better development.

Once the spiderlings are born, the mother keeps them on her back and feeds them for the first few weeks.

“This nurturing behaviour is not so different from that of Aragog, who ‘loved his colony of ‘Acromantulas’ - a fictional species of spider.

▼ Sunderbans depleting @5 percent from 2001 to 2012!   [07-6-17]

A new study about the forest cover in India’s Sunderbans reveals that the mangrove forest cover in the Indian Sunderbans has been depleting alarmingly over the past few decades.

The data was obtained using Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System (GIS).

The study was published in a publication by the School of Oceanographic Studies, Jadavpur University.

The study revealed that from 1986 to 2012, more than 124 sq.km of mangrove forest cover was lost.

The total forest cover of the Indian Sunderbans as assessed by remote sensing studies for the year 1986 was about 2,246.839 sqkm, which gradually declined by 2,201.41 sqkm in 1996.

It then further decreased to 2168.914 sqkm in 2001 and then to 2122.421 sqkm in 2012.

The loss in the mangrove forest in the Indian Sunderbans in percentage terms is about 5.5 %.

The study also points to the mean sea level rise at the Sagar Island Station.

This can be considered as a driving factor for coastal erosion, coastal flooding and an increase in the number of tidal creeks.

The continuation of this process in response to climate change and sea level rise poses a serious threat to the carbon sequestration potential and other ecosystem services of this mangrove forest in future.

The loss in mangrove cover at Gosaba has been about 20 percent, down from 517.47 sqkm in 1986 to 506.691 sqkm in 2012.

In Dulibhasani West, the loss of mangrove cover has been about 9.7 percent from 180.03 sqkm. in 1986 to 163.475 sqkm in 2012.

The mangrove forest cover of Dalhousie, another island, has depleted by 16%, from 76.606 sqkm. in 1986 to 64.241 in 2012.

One of the highest losses has been in Bhangaduni, where the mangrove forest cover has gone down by 37 percent from 40.4 sqkmb in 1986 to 24.9 sqkm in 2012.

Jambudwip, one of the smallest uninhabited islands, also has reduced forest cover by about 10 percent from 6.095 sqkm in 1986 to 5.003 sqkm in 2012.

Other islands like Sajnekhali North, Matla and Bulchery have also suffered significant mangrove loss.

Causes for Erosion

  • Because there is less fresh water flow and sediment supply in the western (Indian) part of the delta, because of which there is starvation of sediment and the rate of sea level rise is higher than sediment supply.
  • A minimal inflow of water is required for a bountiful growth of mangroves.
  • When freshwater inflow is missing, there is a change in mangrove succession and freshwater-loving species of mangroves are replaced by salt-water loving ones, which will in turn impact the fishing community, as then commercially viable fish will be replaced by fish that does not have as much market value.

▼ First white tiger in the Nilgiris spotted!   [07-6-17]

A photographer named Nilanjan Ray is believed to have spotted a rare ‘white tiger’ with a pale skin colour for the first time in the Nilgiris.

The discovery has aroused interest among conservationists and forest officials.

It is yet to be ascertained whether the white tiger is a true genetic mutant.

The tiger which was spotted in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve does not seem to be albino and was found to be whitish with golden brown patches.

As per the scientists, genetic mutation among tigers changes an amino acid responsible for the normal colour being formed, resulting in “natural polymorphism”.

According to the scientists, white tigers lack pheomelanin, which is responsible for the red-yellow hue in the skin coat.

Such tigers are found in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh.

In 2016, world’s first White Tiger Safari was inaugurated at Mukundpur in Satna district of Madhya Pradesh.

The first white tiger in Madhya Pradesh’s was spotted in Vindhya region in 1915.

However, the rare breed of the big cat spotted for the first time died in 1920.

White tigers have also been reported in the Indian states of Assam, West Bengal, Bihar.

These tigers have white fur because of the lack of the pigment pheomelanin, which is found in Bengal tigers with orange colour fur.

▼ MP sets record with planting of 6 crore saplings!   [07-4-17]

With an aim to set a world record by planting six crore saplings on July 2, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has assigned targets to 24 districts.

These are districts where river Narmada flows to cover 1077 km in Madhya Pradesh.

The target varies from planting one lakh saplings to 55 lakh in one day for which arrangements have been made through private nurseries from within and outside the state.

The state forest department is likely to arrange 4.5 crore saplings, while the horticulture department will manage 40 lakh fruit plants.

The rest has been arranged from private nurseries within the state and from Meerut, Jalgaon and Nagpur.

The districts have been assigned target of planting one lakh to 55 lakh saplings a day for which they have been asked to arrange additional workforce.

Also involved were social organisations like Gayatri Parivar, Indian Medical Association (IMA), Narmada Sewa Samiti, and trusts run by spiritual and religious heads.

▼ Special Rhino Protection Force for one horned rhinos in Assam   [07-4-17]

The Assam government is going to raise a new Special Rhino Protection Force (SRPF) for better protection of the one-horned rhinos in Assam.

State government has already started the process of recruitment for the proposed force.

The cadre for the force will selected from local youths hailing from region near the Kaziranga national park.

Recruits will be given necessary training.

They will be also provided with arms and ammunition for better protection of the one horned rhinos.

One horned rhino: Know More

  • The greater one-horned rhinoceros is the largest of the Asian Rhinos.
  • Its preferred habitat is alluvial flood plains and areas containing tall grasslands along the foothills of the Himalayas.
  • Formerly, they were extensively distributed in the Gangetic plains.
  • However, today they are restricted to small habitats in Indo-Nepal terai and North Bengal, and Assam. They are found in Kaziranga.
  • They are on the IUCN list of threatened species