Environment Current Affairs - Current Affairs Today


Indian scientist Kamal Bawa wins the Midori Prize 2014

Indian scientist Kamal Bawa, an eminent professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, won the Midori Prize (2014) in Biodiversity for his research, including in climate change in the Himalayas.

Kamal Bawa, founder president of the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) in Bangalore, will accept the prize with a cash award of $100,000 during the Oct 16-17, 2014 Conference of Parties (COP-12) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in South Korea. India, the at present the chair of the COP-11 and India will pass the baton to Korea at the COP-12 in South Korea. The theme of this year’s COP-12 meeting is ‘Biodiversity for Sustainable Development’.

Other Awardees For Year 2014

  • Alfred Oteng-Yeboah (Ghana) Chair, Ghana National Biodiversity Committee
  • Bibiana Vila (Argentina) Director, Vicuñas, Camelids and Environment (VICAM), Principal Researcher, National Research Council (CONICET) Argentina.

Midori Prize for Biodiversity

Established in 2010 at the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the AEON Environmental Foundation, the Midori Prize is regarded a major element “at the service of the objectives of the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity 2011-2020.” The Prize honors 3 individuals who have made exceptional contribution to conservation and sustainable use at local and global levels, and who have inspired several biodiversity-related works, as well as fostering consciousness about biodiversity. Each winner gets a certificate, a memorial gift and a cash prize of USD100,000. The MIDORI Prize serves as a key instrument at the service of the aims of the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity 2011-2020.

Union Government to fund “Swachh Vidyalaya” campaign

Union Human Resource Development Ministry to fund the  Swachh Vidyalaya (Clean Schools) campaign, via the Swachh Bharat Kosh.

Centre will setup “Swachh Bharat Kosh” to fund the “Swachh Bharat (Clean India)” campaign. HRD Ministry will anchor the “Swachh Vidyalaya (Clean Schools)” drive. The campaign purposes to make sure the facility of toilets in all government schools by August 15, 2015. Swachh Vidyalaya campaign is part of mission to make India a clean country by 2019, the 150th birth anniversary year of Mahatma Gandhi.

Swachh Bharat Campaign, announced by PM Narendra Modi on the eve of 68th Independence Day on August 15, 2014, is scheduled to be launched on October 2, 2014. As part of the drive, public sector units under 25 Ministries have vowed Rs. 400 crore for the drive and private and public sector companies would be persuaded to build toilet blocks in schools. Tata Consultancy Services and Bharti Enterprises have pledged Rs 100 Crore each.

Ozone layer on road to recovery

Assessment for Decision MakersApproximately 30 years after the protections of the Montreal Protocol were put into action, there’s more proof that the international contract to safeguard Earth’s ozone layer is effective, as per a fresh by 300 scientists. The large quantity of most ozone-depleting matters in the atmosphere have fallen since the earlier assessment, in 2010, and Earth’s shielding ozone layer is displaying signs of recovery, as per the “Assessment for Decision-Makers,” part of a larger report to be released early next year.

The report is the most recent in a sequence delivered every four years by the international scientific community, headed by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and co-sponsored by NOAA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Commission. The Decision-makers trust on these logical updates and have used them to increase protection of the ozone layer, banning or restricting the use of ozone-depleting substances, for example.

The stratospheric ozone layer, a fragile shield of gas, safeguards the Earth from dangerous ultraviolet rays of the sun. Maximum ozone is located in the stratosphere, far above Earth. The ozone layer acts as a safeguard, absorbing Ultra-Violet (UV) radiation from the Sun and safeguarding Earth’s surface from dangerous volumes of UV radiation. In the 1970s, NOAA researchers started to identify that particular chemicals, including chemicals called Chloro-Fluoro-Carbons (CFCs) and Halons, used extensively in cooling and firefighting, could reach the stratosphere and activate reactions that damages ozone. In 1985, scientists noticed that a seasonal “Ozone Hole” was establishing in the Antarctic spring, NOAA researchers performed a key role in showing that those same chemicals were triggering the hole.

Because of the Montreal Protocol, several ozone-damaging chemicals have been substituted by substances that don’t destroy ozone. Nonetheless, certain new chemicals, including the CFC-substitute Hydro-Fluoro-Carbons (HFCs), are powerful greenhouse gases and could substantially lead to climate change in the upcoming periods. Researchers from NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory play a significant part in this subject, testing offered new materials to understand if they are harmless for the ozone layer, climate and the environment.

Key findings:

  1. Measures taken under the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the Ozone Layer are assisting the restore of the ozone layer to yardstick 1980 levels.
  2. The climate benefits of the Montreal Protocol could be considerably offset by projected emissions of HFCs (Hydro-Fluoro-Carbons) utilized to substitute ozone depleting materials.
  3. The yearly Antarctic ozone hole has triggered substantial changes in Southern Hemisphere surface climate in the summer. Ozone reduction has contributed to cooling of the lower stratosphere and this is very probable the main reason of noticed changes in Southern Hemisphere summertime circulation over of late decades, with linked effects on surface temperature, precipitation, and the oceans.
  4. In the Northern Hemisphere, where the ozone depletion is lesser, there is no convincing link between stratospheric ozone depletion and tropospheric climate.
  5. CO2, Nitrous Oxide and Methane will have an growing influence on the ozone layer. What happens to the ozone layer in the second half of the 21st century will mostly be determined by the concentrations of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide – the 3 key long-lived greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In general, CO2 and methane lead to increase global ozone levels. By contrast, nitrous oxide, a by-product of food production, is both a strong greenhouse gas and an ozone depleting gas, and is expected to become more significant in future ozone depletion.

NGT bans tyre burning in the open, re-use of tyres as fuel

The western zone bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has banned the burning of tyres in public areas and also the reuse of old tyres as fuel in industries and brick kilns.

The bench has instructed the environment division of the state government to take a resolution on the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board’s (MPCB) suggestions in 8 weeks and release essential notification in 2 weeks later. Burning of tyres in open areas, public places and localities, such as residential areas, schools, hospitals and offices, is banned, the bench noted whilst holding the police, district administration and ULBs (Urban Local Bodies) accountable for executing the prohibition. Any disobedience has to be regarded as an offence under section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (disobedience to order promulgated by public servant), it said.

The direction was circulated on a petition filed by city-based Sahyog Trust, which upraised thoughtful worries over burning of tyres on human health as tyre burning yields poisonous smoke which is dangerous to the total environment and human health.

The bench observed that the Central Pollution Control Board (CPBC) is fostering the use of old tyres as fuel in cement, power and steel industry, however several aspects such as the pollution latent, tyre generation data, technology choices, techno-economic feasibility and social consequences must be well thought-out.

Why burning of tyres is harmful for environment?

Burning tyres emit toxic soup of pollutants that contains harmful gases and chemicals viz. carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, chromium, arsenic, zinc, barium, cobalt, copper, iron, aluminum, manganese and vanadium, etc. which are hazardous to the human beings as well as to the environment. Minuscule particles released during the burning can settle deep in the lungs. Tyres contain 25 % extender oils derived from benzene, 25% styrene, a derivative of benzene, and 25% 1,3 butadiene. – both benzene and 1,3 butadiene are suspected human carcinogens. (A carcinogen is any substance, radionuclide or radiation, that is an agent directly involved in causing cancer).

 About National Green Tribunal

  • A special fast-track court to handle the expeditious disposal of the cases pertaining to environmental issues.
  • Established on October, 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010.
  • Objective: For effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
  • Shall not be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.
  • New Delhi is the Principal Place of Sitting of the Tribunal and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai shall be the other four place of sitting of the Tribunal.

Note: The National Green Tribunal ruling can only be challenged in the Supreme Court.