April 2017 Environment

  • Scientists creates artificial photosynthesis system 
    Scientists have developed a way to turn greenhouse gases into clean air through artificial photosynthesis. And, the method produces energy at the same time. This means the system could one day be set up next to facilities that emit large amounts of carbon dioxide, where it would capture the CO2 and break it down into harmless organic materials, creating solar fuel in the process. 

    According to the researchers at the University of Central Florida who created the system, it could help to significantly reduce greenhouse gasses, which have linked to climate change. 

    The team developed a way to trigger a chemical reaction in a synthetic material called metal-organic frameworks (MOF). Much like a plant converts CO2 and sunlight into food, the process breaks the greenhouse gas into harmless materials, and creates solar fuel. 

    While scientists have long investigated the idea, it’s remained difficult to find a way for visible light to trigger the reaction, as ultraviolet lights – while have enough energy – make up just 4 percent of the incoming sunlight. 

    The visible range, on the other hand, is abundant, but can only be picked up by a few materials to spur this type of reaction. 

  • India's 1st green highway EP Expressway to be ready by August 2017
    India's first smart and green highway, Eastern Peripheral Expressway will be ready by August, 2017. The expressway which is being built at a cost of 11 thousand crore rupees will de-congest the national capital of traffic. 

    According to the Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari once completed it will reduce traffic congestion and will have the best automatic traffic management system. He said, the expressway will have landscaping besides wayside amenities. 

    Mr Gadkari said, at least 2.5 lakh trees will be on the both sides of the roads with solar panels. He said, 5 thousand 9 hundred crore rupees has been spent on land acquisition for the project. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will dedicate it to the nation. 

    The Eastern Peripheral Expressway will set a benchmark in highway construction in terms of World Class Highway with safety features along with smart and interactive infrastructure. 

    After hitting several road blocks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone for the expressway in November 2015. It will divert around 2 lakh vehicles passing through National Capital thereby curbing pollution. 

    Mr Gadkari who inspected the project sites in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana said, the toll plazas will be equipped with electronic toll collection, ETC system for faster toll collection and uninterrupted travel experience. 

  • Sea level rise could send U.S. 'climate migrants' fleeing to Austin
    Sea level rise is typically thought of as a coastal problem, with cities from New York to San Francisco pondering new coastal defenses such as sea walls and sturdier buildings. 

    However, by making large swaths of the U.S. shoreline uninhabitable by the end of this century, sea level rise could reverberate far inland, too. In fact, every single U.S. state will be affected by climate change-induced sea level rise

    If the global average sea level rises by 1.8 meters, or nearly 6 feet, by 2100 — which is well within the mainstream projections from recent studies — 13.1 million Americans could migrate away from coastal areas during this time period, according to research published in the journal Nature Climate Change. 

    The biggest net population gain would be in Texas, which would see migrants from Louisiana, Virginia, and low-lying areas in the Lone Star State, the study found. In particular, the Austin and Round Rock area of Texas could see a net gain of as many as 820,000 people, depending how well coastal areas adapt to sea level rise. 

    Orlando and Atlanta are also projected to receive more than 250,000 climate migrants through 2100. Phoenix and Las Vegas, both of which are already struggling to keep up with water and electricity demand, could also see an influx of people. 

    The biggest population-losing cities are not that surprising: New Orleans and Miami. In Florida, the area from West Palm Beach south to Miami is projected to lose as many as 2.5 million people by 2100 due to sea level rise-related flooding, the study found. Some 2 million people could still flee the area even if climate change adaptation measures are undertaken, such as building sea walls, raising coastal roads to prevent them from flooding regularly, keeping salt water from entering water supplies, and other projects. 

    Nine states could see a net population loss, including Massachusetts, South Carolina, California, Virginia, New Jersey, Louisiana, and Florida. 

  • G7 energy ministers fail to agree on statement on climate change
    G7 Energy Ministers have failed to reach agreement on a joint statement on climate change after the United States expressed reservations. Italian Minister for Economic Development, Carlo Calenda, who chaired the meeting in Rome, said, the United States reserved its position on the text about commitments made by G7 countries under the 2015 Paris climate accord. 

    The Paris Agreement, endorsed by members of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is bedrock of international action against man-made global warming. It also pledges to provide hundreds of billions of dollars in aid for poor countries badly exposed to drought, flood, rising seas and other climate impacts. 

  • Madhya Pradesh govt decides to ban plastic carry bags from May 1
    In Madhya Pradesh, the state government has decided to ban plastic carry bags from 1st of May in the state. The decision was taken in a cabinet meeting held in Bhopal under chairmanship of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. 

    The state cabinet also gave approval to Chief Minister Young Professionals for Development Programme on the lines of Maharashtra and Haryana. In this scheme youngsters will be recruited on contract to monitor the government schemes. 

  • First continental bee listed as endangered
    In January the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially declared the Rusty Patched Bumblebee as an endangered species. The bee is the first bee within the continental United States to be added to the endangered species list. 

    The bumblebee was initially determined to be endangered by the USFWS on Jan. 10 and was approved to officially join the endangered species list on Feb. 10. With the change over to the Trump administration, a new review was required and postponed the date to March 21. 

    The main cause for the decline in Rusty Patched Bumblebee population is due to habitat loss in the upper mid-west and eastern sections of the U.S. The bee mainly lives in grasslands, few of which have remained due to the construction of roads, towns and farms. The USFWS has started service programs to help revitalize the Rusty Patched Bumblebee’s populations through rejuvenation of habitats. 

  • Scientists discover new species of crabs in Kerala
    Scientists have come across a new long-legged crab species in the Western Ghats of Kerala that possess a strange characteristic. Unlike normal crabs who call the sea their home, the newly discovered species dwell in trees. 

    Apart from this, the characteristic traits of the crab include the structure of its hard upper shell, its male abdominal structure and reproductive parts and diagnostic elongated walking legs, which no other genus has, said researchers from University of Kerala. This is the first report of its kind to offer a record of an arboreal crab – a species that lives in trees. 

    The survey of the freshwater crab fauna started in 2014 in the Westerns Ghats in Kerala. People from the Kani tribe reported sightings of a 'long legged' tree crabs in the area. After a year, researchers were finally able to capture a female specimen and later a large adult male. 

  • London to become first city to have ultra-low emission zone
    London has become the first city in the world to announce an ultra-low emission zone to tackle rising levels of air pollution, under which the drivers of the most polluting cars will have to pay an extra charge. 

    London mayor Sadiq Khan has announced that the new zone will be launched from April 8, 2019, when most polluting cars, vans and motorbikes will have to pay 12.50 pounds to drive through central London, while buses, coaches and HGVs will pay 100 pounds. The mayor's office hopes the move will result in a 50 per cent drop in emissions by 2020. 

    The new charge (T-Charge) in 2019 will replace the "toxicity charge", which comes into force from October this year, under which pre-2006 diesel and petrol vehicles will face an extra 10-pound charge when they enter central London during peak times. 

  • Government Officially Launches BS-IV Grade Fuel across India after BS-III ban
    Following the Supreme Court's ruling to ban the sale of BS-III compliant vehicles in the country, the Government of India has now launched Bharat stage BS-IV grade fuel across the nation. It sets target of ushering in BS-VI fuel by April 2020 by skipping BS-V fuel. 

    All state-run oil marketing companies will provide BS-IV compliant fuel at their 53,500 retail fuel stations across the country. BS-IV fuels contain far less sulphur than BS-III fuel. Sulphur in fuel makes it dirtier and lowers the efficiency of catalytic converters, which control emissions. 

  • Atmosphere found around Earth-like planet
    Astronomers have, for the first time, detected an atmosphere around an Earth-like planet just 39 light years away, a significant step towards the detection of life beyond our solar system. Scientists, including those from Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany, studied the planet known as GJ 1132b, which is 1.4 times the size of our planet. 

    They imaged the planet’s host star, GJ 1132, and measured the slight decrease in brightness as the planet and its atmosphere absorbed some of the starlight while passing directly in front of their host star. The team used the GROND imager at the 2.2-m ESO/MPG telescope of the European Southern Observatory in Chile to observe the planet simultaneously in seven different wavelength bands.
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