Environment Current Affairs

April 22: Earth Day

Every year Earth Day is being observed on 22nd April to build support for environmental protection around world. It aims to encourage people to carry out activities that will benefit Earth, such as recycling more, using solar power or plant trees. It also aims to raise awareness that humans have a collective responsibility to promote harmony with nature and to balance the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations.

The theme for 2018 Earth Day is ‘End Plastic Pollution’. It is dedicated to providing information and inspiration needed to fundamentally change human attitude and behavior about plastics.

Four major components of this year’s Plastic Pollution campaign

  • Lead grassroots movement to support adoption of global framework to regulate plastic pollution.
  • Educate, mobilise and activate citizens across globe to demand that governments and corporations control and clean up plastic pollution.
  • Educate people worldwide to take personal responsibility for plastic pollution by choosing to reject, reduce, reuse and recycle plastics.
  • Promote local government regulatory and other efforts to tackle plastic pollution.

Earth Day

The concept of observing Earth Day was formally proposed by John McConnell at UNESCO conference on Environment in 1969. Later in 1971, a proclamation was signed to observe international Earth Day annually on the Vernal Equinox by UN Secretary-General U Thant. It was first celebrated in 1970, and since then it is celebrated every year in more than 193 countries. Earth Day celebrations are coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network.

Earth Day celebrations are way to remind humans of environmental deterioration caused by them and advise them to turn off the electronic devices that are not in use or taking public transport to reduce the emission levels. It recognises that Earth and its ecosystems provide its inhabitants with life and sustenance.

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Scientists identify four bacterial strains to remove sulphur from fossil fuels

Scientists from CSIR-Institute of Minerals and Materials Technology (CSIR-IMMT) have found four bacterial strains that remove sulphur from fossil fuels such as petroleum and coal. Sulphur is one of the major pollutants emitted during the combustion of fossil fuels.

Key Facts

The four bacterial strains are Rhodococcus rhodochrous, Arthrobacter sulfureou, Gordonia rubropertinita and Rhodococcus erythropolis. They use dibenzothiophene, an organic sulphur compound which is major contaminant of fossil fuel as energy source thereby getting rid of sulphur.

They were selected from 10 bacterial strains with dsz genes to find novel bacterial strains that can selectively eliminate this organic sulphur. The dsz genes are central to sustainable bio-desulfurization (a non-invasive process of sulfur removal from fuels by means of living organisms). The selected bacteria were grown in medium supplemented with dibenzothiophene and other nutrients required for growth.

It was found that four bacteria were able to use almost 99% of sulphur compound in just 10 days. Researchers were also able to identify process of bio-desulfurization of these bacterial strains through specific pathway (4-S pathway).

The process of bio-desulfurization using these four bacterial strains is also eco-friendly and economical. These bacterial strains can be potentially used on commercial scale for removal of sulphur from fossil fuels on commercial scale.

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