Climate Change Current Affairs

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Bombay Natural History Society launches climate change programme in Central Himalayas

The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) has launched climate change programme to conduct study to assess the status, distribution and conservation of Pheasants and Finches in Central Himalayas.

It is long-term monitoring project funded by Oracle and facilitated by CAF-India. It will focus on their conservation in the context of climate change with the help of community participation.

Background
  • The Himalayas hold a rich natural heritage with diverse flora and fauna enhancing the beauty of the region.
  • Indian subcontinent is home to nearly 62 species of finches and 50 species of pheasants, with several species listed in ‘Globally Threatened’ category by IUCN. Both these groups are spread across the Himalayas.
  • Shrinking habitats combined with several biotic factors, along with poaching and trapping pressures in many areas have pushed several of them to near extinction.
  • Besides, climate change is influencing vertical and horizontal distribution of these groups. Those species adapting with it will be able survive, but those species sensitive to temperature rise will suffer.
Climate change programme 
  • It will help in making an inventory of pheasants and finches, documentation of local specific conservation issues, and designing local as well as species specific conservation action plan with the community participation.
  • The conservation action plan of these sites will be the first step towards the protection of the ecosystem which benefits both biodiversity as well as the people in the system.
  • It also aims to assess the socio-economic activities of local communities and involve them in conservation efforts and sensitize the local forest department staff.

About Bombay Natural History Society (BHNS)

BNHS is one of the largest non-governmental organisations in India engaged in conservation and biodiversity research. It was founded on 15 September 1883 and headquartered at Hornbill House, Mumbai. It supports many research efforts through grants and publishes the Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. Department of Science and Technology has designated as a ‘Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’.

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Union Cabinet approves ratification of the Second Commitment Period of Kyoto Protocol

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to ratify the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol on containing the emission of Green House Gases (GHGs).

The second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 2012 and is set to expire in 2020. So far, 75 countries have ratified the Second Commitment Period.

Significance
  • This decision is considered as token measure to put pressure on developed countries to deliver on climate change commitments.
  • It further underlines India’s leadership in the comity of countries committed to global cause of environmental protection and climate justice.
  • India’s ratification of the Kyoto Protocol will encourage other developing countries also to undertake this exercise.
  • It will attract some investments in implementation of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects under this commitment period in accordance with Sustainable Development priorities.

About Kyoto Protocol

  • The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997 to fight global warming by reducing GHGs emission and came into effect in 2005. The 1st commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol was from 2008-2012.
  • The 2nd commitment period for the period 2013- 2020 was adopted in 2012 by the Doha Amendment of the Kyoto Protocol.
  • The protocol is based on principle of Equity and Common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR).
  • It places obligations on developed nations to undertake mitigation targets to reduce emissions by 5.2% of 1990 levels during 2008-2012 period) and provide financial resources and technology to developing nations.
  • Developing countries like India have no mandatory mitigation obligations or targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

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Worst coral die-off recorded at Australia’s Great Barrief Reef

Scientists have recorded worst mass coral bleaching event on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. It has killed more corals than ever before, sounding the alarm over the delicate ecosystem.

It is estimated nearly two-thirds of 2,300-kilometre long reef or 700 km stretch of coral in the Great Barrier Reef’s northern part have died in the past nine months.

This is the worst die-off ever recorded in Great Barrier Reef and also the largest ever recorded anywhere. However, the central and southern sections of the reef are fared far better, with only 6% and 1% of the coral dead, respectively.

What are Corals reefs?

  • Coral reefs result from the natural work of little polyps (few millimeters long) is budded on top of one another. They are the most biologically diverse ecosystems of the planet
  • Over centuries, shells (mostly made up of Calcium Carbonate) of these corals combine to form the exotic shapes of coral reefs.
  • Tiny differences in the anatomy of each polyp species mainly affect the shape of their shells and produce the exotic shapes of each reef.
  • Conditions required for growth of corals: Warm tropical oceans with minimum temperature of 20 degree. They are primarily located between 30 degree north and 25 degree south latitudes where water temperature favours the growth of coral organisms; Transparent parts of ocean bodies; Oceanic water must free of sedimentation; it should have relatively low salinity.

What is coral bleaching?

  • Coral bleaching causes corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of their colour. It calcifies the corals to  turn into white.
  • Algae are vital to the coral, which uses the organic products of photosynthesis to help it grow. The loss of algae makes it vulnerable to disease and it will eventually die.
  • When a coral bleaches, it is not dead. They can recover if the water temperature drops and the algae are able to re-colonise them.
  • Reasons: It occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, such as warmer sea temperatures.
  • In recent times unusual warm ocean water is mainly heated by man-made climate change and the natural El Niño climate pattern.

About the Great Barrier Reef

  • It is the biggest coral reef system in the world composed of over 2,900 individual reefs. It was recorded as a World Heritage site in 1981.
  • The reef is located in the Coral Sea, north east of Australia and covers an area of approximately 348,000 sq km.
  • It is credited as the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms and is visible from the outer space.

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