Climate Change Current Affairs - 2019

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Study on Greenland Ice: Key Facts

The study of Technical University of Denmark (DTU) Space Lab published in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on changes to Greenland’s ice sheet lists the following findings:

  • Greenland’s melting ice caused sea levels to rise and resulted in the disappearance of glaciers four times faster in 2013 than in 2003 and is noticeable across the Arctic island.
  • 111 cubic kilometres of ice disappeared per year in 2003 whereas 10 years later this figure had almost quadrupled to 428 cubic kilometres.
  • Most of Greenland’s ice melt was observed on the ice cap, predominantly on the glaciers in the island’s northwest and southeast till 2003. But from 2003 to 2013 most of the ice loss was from Greenland’s southwest region, which is largely devoid of large glaciers.
  • The ice is now melting from the surface mass and melting inland from the coastline. As a result, growing rivers of water are streaming into the ocean.
  • The melting ice is attributed to rising land temperatures and in part to the fact that the ice comes into contact with waters that are increasingly warmer.
  • As the atmosphere’s temperature gradually rises there would be an acceleration in the ice melt.

The study notes that while the amount of sea level increase varies from region to region, there was a worldwide increase by of average of 20 centimetres (about eight inches) in the 20th century and the sea level is currently rising by about 3.3 millimetres per year.

Month: Categories: EnvironmentUPSC

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WHO list of 10 global health threats

The World Health Organisation (WHO) list of 10 global health threats lists 10 issues which demand immediate attention from WHO and health partners in 2019 has been released. They are:

Air pollution and climate change

Nine out of ten people breathe polluted air every day. In 2019, air pollution is considered by WHO as the greatest environmental risk to health. Burning fossil fuels which are a major contributor to climate change also impacts people’s health in different ways.

Noncommunicable diseases

Noncommunicable diseases, such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, are collectively responsible for over 70% of all deaths world and are responsible for over 85% of these premature deaths are in low- and middle-income countries.

Global influenza pandemic

WHO warns of impending influenza pandemic.WHO states that Global defences are only as effective as the weakest link in any country’s health emergency preparedness and response system.

Fragile and vulnerable settings

WHO notes that fragile settings exist in almost all regions of the world, and half of the key targets in the sustainable development goals, including on child and maternal health, remains unmet.

Antimicrobial resistance

Time with antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarials is running out. Antimicrobial resistance which is the ability of bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi to resist these medicines is threatening to send the world back to a time when the world was unable to easily treat infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhoea, and salmonellosis.

Ebola and other high-threat pathogens

2018 witnessed two separate Ebola outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Both outbreaks spread to cities of more than 1 million people and  One of the affected provinces was also in an active conflict zone. Similar outbreaks can be witnessed in 2019.

Weak Primary Health Care

Primary health care is the first point of contact people have with their health care system, and Primary Health Care centres should provide comprehensive, affordable, community-based care throughout life. Yet many countries do not have adequate primary health care facilities.

Vaccine hesitancy

The reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines threatens to reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases. WHO notes that complacency, inconvenience in accessing vaccines, and lack of confidence are key reasons underlying hesitancy.

Dengue

Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease that causes flu-like symptoms which can be lethal and kill up to 20% of those with severe dengue. A high number of cases occur in the rainy seasons of countries such as Bangladesh and India, with rainy seasons lengthening significantly and the disease is spreading to less tropical and more temperate countries such as Nepal which have not traditionally seen the disease, Dengue needs to be fought with urgency.

HIV

Even though enormous progress has been made in terms of getting people tested, providing them with antiretrovirals and providing access to preventive measures such as pre-exposure prophylaxis, the epidemic continues to rage with nearly a million people every year dying of HIV/AIDS.

Month: Categories: InternationalUPSC

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