Japan Current Affairs - 2019

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Global Climate Risk Index 2020

Global Climate Risk Index 2020, published by environmental think tank Germanwatch found Japan to be the most vulnerable country to climate change, followed by Philippines, Germany, Madagascar and India.

Key Findings of Index

(1) Japan: It topped the list of most affected countries in 2018 as it was hit by 3 exceptionally strong extreme weather events during year. It includes- Torrential rainfall from 6-8 July resulting in flash floods and mudslides; Severe heatwave from mid-July to August 2018; Typhoon Jebi in September 2018 broke.

(2) Philippines: It was hit by Typhoon Mangkhut (a category 5 typhoon) in September 2018, which was the most powerful typhoon recorded worldwide in 2018.

(3) Germany: It experienced 2nd hottest year due to a severe heatwave and also witnessed severe drought in October 2018 due to less rainfall, which resulted in a massive decline in harvest.

(4) Madagascar: It became victim to Cyclone Ava in January 2018 and Cyclone Eliakim in March 2018.

(5) India: Globally, it is the 5th most vulnerable country to climate change. India also recorded highest number of fatalities due to climate change and 2nd highest monetary losses from its impact in 2018. The southwest monsoon in 2018 severely affected India, southern state of Kerala was especially impacted which saw the worst flooding in hundred years. Under long term vulnerability, India is ranked 17th. India’s east coast was also hit by Cyclone Titli and Cyclone Gaja in October and November 2018 respectively.

(6) Sri Lanka: It was also affected by severe monsoon rains in May 2018, especially in the south and west coast.

(7) Kenya and (8) Rwanda: Both nations were ranked 7 and 8 respectively. They were also affected by severe monsoon rains, resulting in flooding in several areas and displacement of a large number of people.

Others:-

Canada: In beginning of 2018, Canada saw its lowest temperature in 100 years and then record high temperatures in April 2018, which melted heavy snowpacks, causing the rivers to overflow. It also saw its worst wildfire season.

Fiji: It was affected by 3 cyclones between February 2018 and April 2018- Cyclone Gita, Cyclone Josie and Cyclone Keni, which caused major flooding, leaving many displaced.

About Global Climate Risk Index 2020

The index assessed 181 countries and quantified impacts of climate change through economic losses, losses to GDP (Gross domestic product) and fatalities to arrive at a ranking. This year is the 15th edition of Climate Risk Index. It highlights existing vulnerabilities that may increase as extreme events and become more frequent/ severe due to climate change. It stresses on level of vulnerability of nations to severe climate events, which they should view as warnings for more frequent or severe events in future.

It is based on data from Munich Re NatCatSERVICE which is one of the largest databases on natural catastrophes. The Index has another set of ranking for period 1999-2018 which is based on average values over a 20-year period. In 1999 to 2018 period Puerto was the most vulnerable..

Hayabusa2: Japanese spacecraft starts year-long journey home from asteroid

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Hayabusa 2 probe is heading back to earth from its mission of collecting samples from an asteroid called Ryugu, about 300 million kilometres from Earth. The unmanned probe ‘Hayabusa 2’, named after a falcon is scheduled to return to Earth by the end of 2020.

Why Asteroid? Asteroids are believed to have formed at the dawn of solar system. Moreover, scientists believe that asteroid Ryugu may contain organic matter that may have contributed to life on Earth.

About Japan’s Hayabusa 2

The spacecraft first touched down on the asteroid Ryugu in February 2019 with a mission to collect samples that could provide clues to the origin of solar system as well as life on Earth. Scientists also hope that the samples contain carbon and organic matter that could explain how they are related to Earth.

Mission: Mission of Spacecraft was to gather around 10g of dislodged debris. During sample collection, the spacecraft approached 1km-wide asteroid with an instrument called the sampler horn and on touchdown, a 5g ‘bullet’ made of metal tantalum was fired into rocky surface at 300m/s.

The Hayabusa2 made two touchdowns on the asteroid and successfully collected data and samples during its 1½-year mission since arriving there in June 2018. Any material thus collected will be stored onboard the probe until its return to Earth. The mission costed nearly 29 billion yen (£205m).

The spacecraft is expected to return to Earth in late 2020 and drop a capsule containing the precious samples in Australian desert. After dropping off a capsule containing the samples, the probe will not land but rather will keep itself going on and fly away into space, thus finishing its 6-year mission.

If the return trip is completed successfully it will be the first time that samples from beneath an asteroid’s surface have been brought back to Earth.