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May 2017 Environment

  • Yellow-eyed penguins could be wiped out in 25 years: study
    New Zealand's iconic Yellow-eyed penguins may go extinct within the next 25 years due to rising ocean temperatures and climate change, unless urgent conservation actions are undertaken, a new study has warned. 

    Researchers from University of Otaga in New Zealand predict that the breeding success of the penguins will continue to decline to extinction by 2060 largely due to rising ocean temperatures. The study highlights where conservation efforts could be most effective in building penguins' resilience against climate change

    The predictions do not include additional adult die-off events such as the one seen in 2013 in which more than 60 penguins died. 

  • Paris climate deal is 'lifeline' for world's poorest countries
    Countries at high risk of sea-level rise, drought and storms caused by global warming urged world leaders to stay the course despite America’s threatened exit from a UN climate pact. The Paris Agreement struck in 2015 to limit warming by capping emissions from burning coal, oil and gas, is “our lifeline”, pleaded the Climate Vulnerable Forum. 

    The grouping represents the interests at UN climate negotiations of over a billion people in nearly 50 countries on five continents. 

    The Paris Agreement set a limit of two degrees Celsius limit for average global warming over pre-Industrial Revolution levels. Also underwritten is an aspirational lower target of 1.5 C, which the CVF considers says is key to the survival of millions of its people. 

  • NGT bans open defecation, waste dumping on Yamuna floodplains
    The National Green Tribunal NGT on 19th May banned open defecation and dumping of waste on the floodplains of the Yamuna and announced an environment compensation of Rs 5,000 for those who violated the diktat. 

    A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar also constituted a committee headed by Delhi Jal Board CEO to oversee the execution of work pertaining to cleaning of the river and asked it to submit reports at regular intervals. 

    The Delhi government and the municipal corporations were directed to immediately take action against industries which operate in residential areas and are a major source of pollution to the river. 

    The apex green panel had on May 1 ordered inspection of the STPs at Delhi Gate and Okhla with a view to ensure that wastewater was cleaned before it reached the Yamuna. It had sought a report with regard to functioning of these plants. 

    The tribunal was informed that a total of 14 STP projects are to be constructed to clean wastewater. Of these, seven are to be built by the Delhi Jal Board with its own funds. 

  • Chitale Committee recommends several measures for Desiltation of Ganga
    Chitale committee on de-siltation of Ganga has recommended a slew of measures which include study of reach wise sediment transport processes along with establishing annual sediment budgets to guide de-silting activities. 

    It has recommended that a technical institute may be entrusted with conduct of the sediment budget, morphological and flood routing studies that would examine and confirm the necessity of the de-silting. 

    The committee was constituted in July 2016 by the Ministry of Water Resources under the chairmanship of Madhav Chitale, expert member of National Ganga River Basin Authority to prepare guidelines for de-siltation of river Ganga from Bhimgauda in Uttarakhand to Farakka in West Bengal. 

    The committee was asked to establish difference between de-silting and sand mining and also to establish need for de-silting for ecology and e-flow of the river Ganga. 

    The committee says though de-siltation works can improve hydraulic performance of the river and this itself can justify undertaking de-siltation. However, these activities have no direct role in improving environment flow in the river. On the other hand, indiscriminate de-silting or sand mining would cause adverse impacts on river e-flow. 

    The Committee said, catchment area treatment and watershed development works along with good agricultural practices and river bank protection works are necessary to reduce silt inflow into the river system. 

    It said, erosion, movement and deposition of sediment are natural regulating functions of river and sediment equilibrium of river should be maintained. Besides, rivers should be provided with sufficient flood plains without any hindrance to the flow. 

  • Nagpur has now become the first city in India to get a fleet of electric cabs. The pilot project will launch around 200 electric cabs. The Centre currently runs the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles scheme (passed by the government in 2015) and it plans to go completely electric by 2030. 

    Mahindra & Mahindra has supplied the electric vehicles to the Nagpur government, most likely the e-Verito and the e20 Plus. 

  • Antarctic ice sheet remains stable: study
    Central parts of Antarctica’s ice sheet have been stable for millions of years, even when conditions were considerably warmer than present, new research suggests. 

    The study of mountains in West Antarctica may help scientists improve their predictions of how the region might respond to continuing climate change. The findings could show how ice loss might contribute to sea level rise. 

    Although the discovery demonstrates the long-term stability of some parts of Antarctica’s ice sheet, scientists remain concerned that ice at its coastline is vulnerable to rising temperatures. 

    Researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh and Northumbria in the U.K. studied rocks on slopes of the Ellsworth Mountains, whose peaks protrude through the ice sheet. By mapping and analysing surface rocks, researchers calculated that the mountains have been shaped by an ice sheet over a million-year period, beginning in a climate some 20 degrees Celsius warmer than at present. 

  • Ahmedabad launches air quality index
    The Ahmedabad Municipality decided to launch air quality index. This is part of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation’s (AMC) new health-based initiative to reduce the adverse impact of rising air pollution on the city’s seven million residents. 

    The civic body is launching a comprehensive Air Quality Index (AQI) and Air Information and Response (AIR) plan that would include an air pollution alert system and health risk communication based on real-time data. 

    The initiative, the first of its kind, involves five key factors: health risk communication, inter-agency coordination, capacity-building of the medical staff, targeted activities for vulnerable groups such as school children, senior citizens, and people with asthma or lung disease, and research on mitigation pathways

    According to the plan, eight air quality monitors in Ahmedabad and two in Gandhinagar will collect data on smog and toxic pollutants and feed it into the system which would generate the AQI. 

  • Earth’s Carbon Dioxide Breaking Dangerous Records
    In 2016, Earth experienced several record-breaking milestones in terms of high temperature. Specifically, the amount of carbon dioxide in earth’s atmosphere surpassed the 400 ppm (parts per million) record it hit back in 2013. The last time earth had that much carbon dioxide in the air was millions of years back, when earliest predecessors were probably using stones as tools; the world was a few degrees hotter; and sea levels were several meters higher. 

    After reaching that alarming milestone in 2013, scientists warned that the situation was degrading even further and that within only a short period of time humans would break that record again. 

    On April 18, 2017, scientists at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii recorded Earth’s planet’s most grim milestone yet: Earth atmospheric carbon dioxide level is now at 410.28 ppm and while this may not necessarily result in immediate dramatic changes in climate, it’s still a grave reminder of how much humans are trashing earth planet. 

    Scientists first began measuring atmospheric CO2 content in the 1950s. Back then, when the industrial revolution hadn’t begun yet, the amount of CO2 in the air was only 280 ppm. But an extremely powerful El Nino took place, causing a number of forest fires that released a considerable amount of stored carbon into the atmosphere, driving up carbon dioxide levels. 

    And human activities entered the picture, most notably, the relentless burning of fossil fuels to generate power and electricity. Earth’s atmosphere didn’t stand a chance. From 280 ppm, atmospheric carbon dioxide content increased by about 42% to its current level. 

    Carbon dioxide is the primary contributor to climate change. Only by decreasing our carbon footprint human will be able to save planet from further degradation and the fast-approaching apocalyptic effects of climate change.
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