Environment - Current Affairs for September, 2016

Environment Current Affairs for September, 2016

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.

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▼ Rare painted frog Uperodon taprobanicus found in Telangana   [09-30-16]

A painted frog Uperodon taprobanicus has been found in Bejjur forest in Adilabad, Telangana.
The forest is a biodiversity haven which also houses the endangered Indian vulture Gyps indicus that lives in Bejjur forest in Adilabad, Telangana.

  • The 253 sq km thickly forested area on the banks of Pranahita river in the eastern region of this district is also home to Uperodon taprobanicus
  • This marks the first time the amphibian has been discovered in this region
  • This species is commonly found in a region from Sri Lanka to Bengal
  • The frog is generally found in tree holes, burrows, pollution-free wetland, and riverine areas, records of its distribution say.
  • This particular animal is listed among species of ‘least concern’ by IUCN/International Union for Conservation of Nature.
  • Bejjur reserve forest on the Pranahita basin is home to a host of species of flora and fauna including 50 types of trees
  • The trees found include the Narepa Chettu, Hardwickia binata, the insectivorous Drosera burmannii, and the unique teak, Tectona grandis.
  • A rare hyena and the leopard and tiger species have been spotted here
  • This area is also home to 16 species of birds of prey and 50 other avian species
  • It has 15 reptiles and 10 species of amphibians

▼ Delhi airport - First carbon neutral airport in Asia Pacific region   [09-29-16]

The Delhi International Airport Limited on 27th Sept announced Indira Gandhi International Airport has become the first in the Asia-Pacific region to attain carbon neutral status

  • DIAL is a GMR-led consortium which manages IGI airport
  • Announcement on the carbon neutral status was made by the Airports Council International during the Airport Carbon Accreditation certificate presentation ceremony in Canada’s Montreal city
  • ACA has upgraded Delhi Airport to Level 3+ Neutrality which is the highest achievement for airports across the world
  • Carbon neutrality is the net zero carbon footprint
  • It appears when net carbon emissions over an entire year are zero
  • Airport absorbs and offsets the same amount of emission generated
  • This is used in context of CO2 releasing processes associated with transport, industry processes like carbon neutral fuel and energy production

▼ World’s largest flower blooms in Indonesia, smells of rotting corpse!   [09-27-16]

The world’s largest flower Rafflesia arnoldii has been found blooming in two different locations in Indonesian rainforest in Sumatra

  • The giant red flower which smells of rotting flesh has no stems.
  • It also does not have leaves or roots
  • It blooms only for a few days.
  • Flower recently appeared in the following two locations:Taba Penanjung Forest and the Tebat Monok Forest.
  • Plant is named after Singapore founder Sir Stamford Raffles and British Botanist Joseph Arnold
  • It is an endemic plant to Sumatra
  • It has become a symbol of therein, appearing in everything from postage stamps to tourist brochures for the region
  • Indonesia is known for richness in plant diversity- it has 25,000 different flowering plant species with 40 percent of these not being found anywhere else on earth

▼ India to ratify Paris Agreement on Climate Change on Gandhi Jayanti   [09-26-16]

India will ratify the Paris agreement on climate change on October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Country’s move will bring in a global deal to fight the menace of global warming

  • The announcement to this effect was made by PM Narendra Modi during his speech at the BJP party council meet
  • India had announced its climate action plan to fight challenges of climate change on October 2 in the past year.
  • It has submitted its INDC or Intended Nationally Determined Contribution to the UN Body on October 1, 2015 and made it public the next day coinciding with the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi
  • Around 60 countries including the two top polluters of the world- the US and China- have ratified the agreement adopted by 195 nations in Paris in December 2015
  • While China and US have ratified it on September 3, as many as 31 countries have formally joined the agreement through formal ratification or acceptance at a special event hosted by the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in New York on September 21
  • Agreement will come into force 30 days after 55 countries, representing 55 percent of global emissions will deposit their instruments of ratification, accession or acceptance with the UN Secretary General
  • So fa national ratification has crossed 55 nations but only accounted for 47.62 percent of the global emission
  • Decision of India, which accounts for 4.1 percent of the global emission, will bring it within reach of the emission threshold of 55 percent
  • The magic figure of 55 percent will be reached in 2016 as 14 more countries, with 12.58 percent of the global emission on September 21, committed to join the agreement this year before the start of the next UN conference on climate change COP22 in Morocco in November 2016
  • Paris Agreement calls on nations to combat climate change and accelerate and intensify actions and investments needed for sustainable low carbon future and adapting the increasing impact of climate change
  • Regular meetings are mandated every 5 years, starting in 2018 to review progress and consider how to strengthen the level of ambition as countries recognise present steps to counter climate change are not enough to save planet earth
  • Apart from India, other countries joining the Paris Agreement through formal ratification include:
    i. Austria,
    ii. Australia,
    iii. Bulgaria,
    iv. Cambodia,
    v. Canada,
    vi. Costa Rica,
    vii. France,
    viii. Germany,
    ix. Hungary,
    x. Kazakhstan,
    xi. New Zealand,
    xii. Poland and
    xiii. the Republic of Korea.

▼ Paris Agreement on Climate Change closer to being in force   [09-23-16]

Paris Agreement on climate change has moved closer to enter into force this year as 31 more countries on 21st Sept joined at a special event hosted by the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York.

  • Number of countries which joined the Paris Agreement, has now reached 60- 5 more than the threshold of 55 nations required for bringing the agreement into force.
  • Paris Agreement will enter into force 30 days after 55 countries, representing 55% of the global emissions, deposit their instruments of ratification, acceptance or accession with the UN Secretary General
  • As the 60 countries that joined the agreement so far account for as much as 47.62 percent of the global emission, global deal needs to cover remaining 7.5 percent before it enters into force
  • Magic figure is 55 percent and the climate deal is now set to enter into force in 2016
  • Adopted by 195 parties to the UNFCCC last December in Paris, the Paris Agreement calls on nations to combat climate change and intensify the actions and investments for a sustainable low carbon future and adapt to the increasing impacts of climate change
  • Early entry into force of the Paris Agreement will trigger operational provisions of the agreement and accelerate efforts to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degree C and agree to build climate resilience.
  • Paris agreement mandates regular meetings every 5 years, starting in 2018 to review progress and consider how to strengthen the level of ambition as countries recognised the present level of climate actions will not suffice
  • The two biggest polluters, China and the United States have joined the agreement early this month and the third biggest polluter in the world accounting for 4.1 percent of the global emission, will ratify it next year.
  • Countries that deposited their instruments of ratification at NY included Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Dominica, Ghana, Guinea, Honduras, Iceland, Kiribati, Madagascar, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Senegal, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Thailand, Tonga, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, and Vanuatu.

▼ Arctic Sea ice at 2nd lowest in satellite era   [09-20-16]

Summertime sea ice in the Arctic reached a minimum on September 10 and is now tied to the second lowest minimum in the satellite era

  • NASA and National Snow and Ice Data Centre on September 15, 2016 said summertime Arctic sea ice appears to have reached annual minimum on September 10
  • This will be tied with 2007 for the second lowest yearly minimum in satellite record
  • Satellite data showed this year’s minimum at 1.60 million square miles (4.14 million square km). The animation above tracks the evolution of Arctic sea ice cover during 2016.
  • Satellites monitor sea ice and have done so since 1978
  • This has been an unusual year with melt season beginning with a record low yearly maximum extent in March and a rapid ice loss through May.
  • But in June and July, low atmospheric pressures and cloudy skies slowed down the melt.

▼ India’s initiative to diminish Hydrofluorocarbons!   [09-19-16]

Environment ministry on 15th Sept 2016 announced an ambitious collaborative programme for R&D to develop next generation sustainable refrigerant technologies.

  • These are alternatives to climate damaging hydrofluorocarbons
  • This announcement came a day before International Ozone Day on 16th Sept
  • Announcement concerns HFC which is however, not an ozone depleting chemical like other refrigerants
  • But HFC has a huge potential to damage the climate and it is important to fight the adverse impact of climate change
  • Announcement indicates India’s commitment to phase down HFC by taking domestic industries on board so refrigerant sector does not get affected till cost effective cutting edge technology is available for HFC
  • HFC is released by Acs, fridges and insulating foam
  • Countries from across the globe will meet in Rwanda to phase down HFC as part of amendment to a Montreal Protocol
  • Montreal Protocol indicates that phasing down of HCFCs and CFCs is imperative; it does not consider non ozone depleting substances like HFC
  • Cutting down on HFC is to avoid 0.5 degree C warming towards the close of the 21st century and diminishing emission of dangerous GHG
  • BSIR , DST and allied institution Centre for Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences and key industry players in the refrigerant sector will be part of this initiative
  • India already has a small carbon footprint at citizen level and this research can prevent patented expensive and polluting technologies from being used

▼ Polar bears threatened with extinction   [09-17-16]

Polar bears are losing life sustaining sea ice critical for hunting, resting and breeding in 19 regions of the Arctic they inhabit, according to a study on 14th Sept

  • As climate change pushed up Arctic temperatures, ice started melting earlier in spring and refreezing in autumn, according to researchers

  • Satellite data showed that number of ice covered days across the 19 regions declined at the rate of 7-19 days per decade from 1979 to 2014.

  • Dependence on sea ice means climate warming is the single most important threat to polar bears.

  • Global population of polar bears is currently 25,000.

  • Their scientific name is Ursus maritimus.

  • Bears have been emblematic of ravages of global warming.

  • When the ice melts, the animals come ashore and survive on stored fat until it refreezes -- a period that for some has become longer and longer.

  • Scientists are saying Arctic is warming at double the global rate as a result of climate change fuelled by mankind’s use of fossil fuels that emit heat trapping GH gases.

  • Longer iceless periods mean polar bears have to swim further to find solid ground.

  • IUCN also said the creatures could see numbers dwindle by third by mid century; Polar bears on IUCN Red List are listed as vulnerable.

  • Bears need sea ice for hunting as they cannot out swim their prey- the self.

  • "Changes in sea ice have been shown to impact polar bear abundance, productivity, body condition, and distribution," said the study.

  • WWF also said that the retreating ice will increase confrontations with humans who live on land.

  • Arctic shipping industry has further fuelled global warming.

▼ "Living Fossils" start wash up on shores of Southern Japan   [09-17-16]

A vast number of horseshoe crabs have washed ashore dead in Southern Japan. They are among the earth’s oldest creatures, which is why they are called “living fossils”

  • Horseshoe crabs are known for blue blood.

  • They visit the tidal plats in SW japan where they lay eggs in summer.

  • This year, a local conservation group reported that the number of precious marine anthropoids were unusually high.

  • Amount of dead crabs was 8 times more than the usual during the fertile season, numbering 500.

  • Numerous academics pointed to oxygen shortage due to higher sea water temperature or parasitic disease associated with horseshoe crabs as a possible cause.

  • Japan’s environment ministry calls these helmet crabs endangered species which have declined sharply due to coastal habitat destruction in association with Japan’s economic development.

  • No concrete measures have been taken to prevent the fall in numbers so far.

  • Horseshoe crab called Kabutogani in Japanese means “warrior helmet carb” and it has survived for 200 million years.

  • Japan Horseshoe Crab Association was formed in 1978; it counted the dead crabs this summer.

  • The biology of the horseshoe crab is a mystery according to experts; not much is known about it.

▼ World’s wilderness reduced by tenth in past two decades   [09-14-16]

World’s wilderness has been reduced by a tenth in the past 20 years, according to a study conducted by University of Queensland researchers in Australia.

  • The findings highlight the need for international policies to recognise the value of the wilderness areas and address threats faced by them
  • Scientists mapped wilderness areas in the world and compared the results with a 90s map
  • Close to 1.3 million square miles or 3.3 million square km (around 10 percent) of wilderness has disappeared since the 1990s
  • Amazon basin and central Africa have been hardest hit
  • Comparison shows 30.1 million km2 or 20 percent of the world’s land area now remains in wilderness
  • Major areas of wilderness are located in N. America, N. Asia, North Africa and Australia
  • Comparison between the maps also showed 10 percent wilderness loss.
  • Losses have been most in South America which has experienced a 30 percent decline in wilderness.
  • Africa has experienced a 14 percent loss.

▼ Complete ban on polythene at national and tourist destinations   [09-12-16]

There will be a complete ban on the use of polythene in all national monuments and tourist destinations from October 2

  • The initiative aims to carry forward the Swaraj Bharat Mission for which the government chose the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi to impose the ban
  • Trial phase of the initiative will be launched in September and from October 2, it will be implemented in all the national monuments and tourist destinations
  • Plastic bottles will not be banned however, but tourists will be asked to place then in recycle containers at tourist destinations
  • It will be easy to implement this cleanliness initiative as the tourist destinations will have security personnel who check the tourists at the entrance
  • Ban will be applicable to the protected zone or 100m radius of the monuments.

▼ New snake species discovered   [09-7-16]

Scientists have discovered the new Ghost Sake Species of elusive pale grey reptiles at Ankara National Park in Madagascar, Africa.

  • Researchers have verified that the Madagascarophis lolo is a new species
  • It is part of a common group of snakes called Madagascarophis or cat eyed snake
  • These snakes are named for their vertical pupils which are active during the evening or night
  • Many of the cat eyed snakes are found in developed areas or degraded forests
  • However, researchers found the ghost snake on pale grey limestone rocks
  • Ghost snake’s closest relative is Madagascarophis fuchsi, which was discovered at a site about 100 kilometres north of Ankarana years ago.

▼ Largest living primate Eastern Gorilla, critically endangered   [09-6-16]

The largest living primate Eastern Gorilla found in the Congo mountains is now officially critically endangered according to a fresh update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
IUCN World Conservation Congress made the announcement regarding the same in Hawaii.

  • Eastern Gorillas have suffered a devastating population decline of more than 70 percent in 2 years with the population estimated to be lower than 5000
  • Four of the six great apes- Eastern Gorilla, Western Gorilla, Bornean Orangutang, Sumatran Orangutang are now listed as Critically Endangered
  • Two remaining-Chimpanzee and Bonobo are under considerable threat of extinction and are listed as Endangered.
  • Latest IUCN Red List also reports the decline of the Plains Zebra due to illegal hunting and growing extinction threat to Hawaiian plants used by invasive species.
  • 38 of the 415 endemic Hawaiian plants assessed for this update as listed as Extinct and four other species have been listed as Extinct in the Wild meaning they only occur in cultivation
  • The IUCN Red List now includes 82,954 species of which 23,928 are threatened with extinction.
  • Eastern Gorilla (Gorilla Beringe) is now made up of 2 subspecies. One of the subspecies Grauer’s Gorilla has lost 77 percent of its population since 1994 declining from 16,800 to just 3,800 in 2015.
  • Mountain Gorilla another subspecies is around 880
  • The Plains Zebra has moved from Least Concern to Near Threatened. Population has been reduced by 24 percent in past 14 years from 660,000 to 500,000.
  • 3 species of antelope found in Africa - Bay Duiker (Cephalophus dorsalis), White-bellied Duiker (Cephalophus leucogaster) and Yellow-backed Duiker (Cephalophus silvicultor) - have moved from Least Concern to Near Threatened.
  • However, the good news is that the Giant Panda and the Tibetan Antelope are now listed as Vulnerable and Near Threatened respectively from Endangered status.
  • Other conservation successes include the Greater Stick-nest Rat (Leporillus conditor) and the Bridled Nailtail Wallaby (Onychogalea fraenata).

▼ Newly discovered fish named after President Obama   [09-6-16]

Fish of the genus Tosanoides was named in honour of Obama for his commitment to protecting nature through the creation of the world’s largest marine reserve.

  • Obama was honoured for his commitment towards protecting nature through the expansion of the Papanahaumokaukea Marine National Monument.
  • Scientists named the small maroon and gold fish species after President Obama
  • It was discovered 300 feet deep in the waters off Kure Atoll in the Pacific ocean
  • This fish was discovered in June during the research trip to the world’s northernmost atoll, Kure.
  • Atolls are ring shaped reef, island or chain of islands formed of corals
  • Fish is found only within the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, a world heritage site encompassing 1510000 square kilometre of ocean waters.
  • This includes 10 islands and atolls of the NW Hawaiian islands
  • The site is the largest swath of protected land or water on earth- it is home to millions of seabirds, turtles and monk seals and more than 7000 species.
  • Richard Pyle, a marine biologist at Bishop Museum in Hawaii recognised the new species of fish
  • This is not the first time a fish has been named after the US President.
  • Species of farmers found in Duck River and Buffalo River in US was named Etheostoma obama in 2012

▼ 11% fall in Environment related crimes   [09-2-16]

Environment related crimes fell by over 11 percent compared to 2014, in the year 2015.

  • But there was no decline in states liken UP, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Assam where the number of violations increased over the past years.
  • As per data released by National Crime Records Bureau, the number of green crimes in 2015 came down to 5156 from 5835 in 2014.
  • Rajasthan contributed a large measure to the decrease with the number of green violations coming down significantly from 2927 in 2014 to 2074 last year.
  • Despite the improvement, the state still reported the highest number of violations while UP’s green crimes rose from 1597 in 2014 to 1779 in 2015.
  • Rajasthan and UP accounted for close to 74 percent of green crimes in the country in the past year.
  • Analysis of NCRB data revealed nearly 77 percent of the crimes were related to violations of the Indian Forest Act.
  • This marks the second time when the NCRB has come out with data on green crimes.
  • The number of environmental crimes also rose in Jharkhand and Assam.

Chronology of events
The 2016 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer was observed in the 2nd week of Sept and theme is Ozone and climate: Restored by a world united
Typhoon Meranti stuck the Fujian province on 15th Sept forcing relocation of 33 million people and destroying 1600 homes in China, wherein another typhoon Malakas is set to hit the shores
Typhoon Malakas and Meranti hit China leaving behind a trail of destruction in the Fujian province and displacing 1000s of homes
Giant African Land Snails were for the first time spotted in the Goa University at Taleigao
WHO report released on 27th Sept 2016 says 92 percent of the world’s population lives in places where pollution and air quality levels exceed WHO limits