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May 23: World Turtle Day

Every year May 23 is celebrated as the World Turtle Day as an annual observance aimed at protecting turtles and tortoises and their rapidly disappearing habitats across the world. The celebrations was started in 2000 by the American Tortoise Rescue (ATR). Since then it is celebrated every year to create awareness about the world’s oldest living reptiles in the world.

Threats in India

Smuggling 

The greatest threats faced by the turtles and tortoises in India is smuggling. They are smuggled every year in large numbers to East Asian and Southeast Asian markets. They are smuggled live to these countries. Apart from the live specimens, the eggs of sea turtle are dug up and sold as delicacies in the South Asian countries. The state of West Bengal has emerged as one of the focal points of turtle smuggling. Despite efforts of the government, turtle smuggling remains as a lucrative business in India.

Other Threats 

Turtles also threatened by several man made issues. One of the major threat is habitat destruction. The turtles which are found in Ganges and other major rivers in the country faces habitat destruction as these rivers are increasingly getting polluted. Sea turtles also suffers from the pollution of seas and beaches. Many turtles are dying every year by eating plastics.

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Climate Change: Antarctica is Turning Green

According to a new study conducted by a team of scientists from the University of Exeter in the UK, plant life on Antarctica is growing rapidly due to climate change. The scientists have observed  a sharp increase in biological activity in Antarctica in the last 50 years. For ascertaining the growth, the scientists conducted tests at five cores from three sites and has observed the occurrence of major biological changes across the Antarctic Peninsula. The scientists made use of 150 years’ worth of data to arrive at the conclusion. The study has been published in the journal Current Biology.

According to the scientists, Antarctica will be much greener in the future and the continent’s plants and soils will change substantially even with only modest further warming. The continuous retreat of glaciers will make Antarctica much greener in the future. As per the study, the growth of moss in the continent is a signifier that the region is already undergoing change. At present, the plant life exists only in 0.3% of Antarctica. With increase in land cover occurs decrease in snow and ice cover. The thinner ice cover permits the penetration of sunlight into the previously dark areas allowing the planktons to grow. This would bring ecosystem shift to Antarctica similar to what has happened in Arctic.

Background

In March 2017, the US and European scientists had observed that the extent of sea ice at both poles has hit new record lows in this year’s season. The disappearing sea ice comes as the Earth marks three consecutive years of record-breaking heat and temperature rise, raising fresh concerns about the accelerating pace of global warming.  Also, for the past two years, Antarctica saw record high sea ice extents and decades of moderate sea ice growth.

Recently, the researchers have also found that the Southern Antarctic Peninsula showed no signs of change up to 2009. But after 2009, multiple glaciers along a vast coastal expanse suddenly started to shed ice into the ocean. These glaciers measure around 750 km in length and are shrinking nearly at a constant rate of 60 cubic km and adding about 55 trillion litres of water each year. With this level of shrinking, the region has become the second largest contributor to sea level rise in Antarctica causing small changes in the gravity field of the Earth.

Bharti is the name of third Research station commissioned by India at Antarctica. It will be the third and second active research station along with Maitri (active) and Dakshin Gangotri(abandoned, but used as supply base) for the nation.

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National Green Tribunal Bans Open Defecation and Waste Dumping on Yamuna Floodplains

A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar has banned open defecation and waste dumping on the floodplains of the Yamuna. It has also slapped an environment compensation of Rs 5,000 for people who violated the order. Apart from this, the NGT has also constituted a committee under the head of Delhi Jal Board CEO to oversee the cleaning works of the river and ordered it to submit reports at regular intervals.

The tribunal has also ordered the Delhi government and the municipal corporations to immediately take action against those polluting industries which function in residential areas. These industries are held as the major source of pollution to the river.

NGT’s above orders were issued after hearing a plea on the monitoring of execution of the ‘Maili se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalisation Project 2017’.

Background

The NGT on May 1 ordered the inspection of the sewage treatment plants (STP) to make sure that the effluents are treated before it got released into Yamuna. Almost 67% of the wastewater reaching Yamuna are to be treated under the STPs set up under Phase 1 of the ‘Maili se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalisation Project 2017’. Out of the total 14 STP projects that are to be built for treating wastewater, seven STP projects will be built by the Delhi Jal Board with its own funds.
The central government had sanctioned the Yamuna Action Plan (YAP)-I and YAP-II schemes for the states of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. YAP-III projects which are to be completed by December 2018 has been introduced in Delhi with financial assistance from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The project involves works like sewerage/interception and diversion of drains, sewage treatment plants, low-cost sanitation and community toilet complexes, electric and improved wood crematoria among others.

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