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Current Affairs – 25 September 2021

Global Cropland will be Drought-hit

Down to earth

GS 3: Environment and Conservation, Agriculture

Context:

  • Climate change risk assessment 2021in anticipation of this year’s UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November, CoP26 has been published by London-based policy institute (Chatham House).

Highlights of the report:

  • The average proportion of global cropland affected by severe drought will likely rise by a third by 2040 if global greenhouse gas emissions continue as usual.
  • This will complicate matters as agriculture will be needed to produce nearly 50% more food by 2050 to feed a growing global population.
  • If highly emitting countries fail to take dramatic climate action to reduce their emissions, many of the climatic changes they anticipate are likely to be locked in by 2040 and become so severe they go beyond the limits of what nations can adapt to.
  • During the 2040s there is a 50% chance of synchronous crop failure — the failure of a single crop in multiple regions simultaneously.
  • By 2050, global cropland areas will be impacted by reductions in crop duration periods of at least 10 days, exceeding 60% for winter wheat, 40% for spring wheat, and 30% for rice.
  • By 2040, almost 700 million people each year will likely be exposed to prolonged severe droughts of at least six month’s duration.
  • The report predicted that east and south Asia will be particularly hard hit, with 230 million people subjected to prolonged drought by 2040.

Way ahead:

  • The report urged governments of highly emitting countries to accelerate emissions reductions through ambitious revisions of nationally determined contributions at COP26.
  • This, in turn, would significantly enhance policy delivery mechanisms and incentivise rapid large-scale investment in low-carbon technologies.
  • That would lead to cleaner and cheaper energy and avert the worst climate impacts.

 

Rising Sea Level

Down to Earth

GS 3: Environment and Conservation

Context:

  • The report The Ocean State Report 5 by the Copernicus Marine Environmental Monitoring Service has been published recently.

Highlights of the report:

  • The global ocean, which covers 71% of the Earth’s surface and regulates the Earth’s climate and sustains life, is undergoing severe changes from natural variations, over-exploitation, and anthropogenic influences.
  • These changes caused the sea level to rise by 3.1 millimeters each year on an average from January 1993 through May 2020.
  • The warming of the world’s oceans and melting land ice caused sea levels to rise by:
  1. 5 mm per year in the Mediterranean;
  2. 5 mm per year in Baltic Sea;
  3. 2 mm per year in western Pacific Islands;
  4. 7 mm per year in the Black Sea;
  5. 6 mm per year in the Iberian Biscay Ireland Seas;
  6. 9 mm per year in the North West Shelf;
  7. 5 mm per year Central Pacific Islands and
  8. 4 mm per year in Pacific Islands (total area).
  • Warming ocean waters have caused many marine species to move towards cooler waters; this migration has led to the introduction of non-native and invasive species to different marine ecosystems.
  • Increasing temperatures in the eastern Mediterranean basin saw the lionfish (Pterois miles) entering the Mediterranean Sea from the Suez Canal to the Ionian Sea.
  • Around 50% of Earth’s oxygen production takes place in the ocean, sustaining marine life cycles. This is threatened by growing human activities leading to climate change and eutrophication.
  • This deoxygenates the oceans and seas and has adverse consequences on the marine life.

New tools, technologies to monitor warming ocean:

  • Ocean temperature is increasing, influencing catches and marine species migration.
  • Human pollution and overexploitation are affecting seawater quality, creating the need for a new indicator to measure seawater conditions.

Way ahead:

  • The report suggested new tools for monitoring ocean changes: Forecast alert systems in Malta, prediction models for jellyfish blooms in the Mediterranean Sea and real-time monitoring programmes for tailored sea ice data.
  • These tools can help scientists and policy-makers adapt to a changing ocean on a local, regional and global scale.

 

Around 66% Children below 2 years don’t get Nutritious Diet

Down to earth

GS : Health

Context:

  • The report titled Fed to Fail? The Crisis of Children’s Diets in Early Lifewas released by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) ahead of the United Nations Food Systems Summit.

Highlights of the report:

  • Two in every three children between six months and two years didn’t get the nutritious diet needed for healthy growth.
  • Policies and programmes to improve young children’s diets are not prioritised and are being further eroded by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • No country has a comprehensive set of policies, legal measures and programmes to improve young children’s diets.
  • Nearly 83% countries reported considerable disruptions in the coverage of services to promote nutritious and safe diets for young children at the peak of the first wave of the pandemic in April 2020.
  • Around 27% of children aged six-eight months were not fed any solid food. Among children aged 6–23 months, around half were not fed the minimum number of meals or snacks.
  • The diet of the world’s children below the age of two years has not improved in the last decade.
  • This age group continues to get inadequate nutrients necessary for healthy growth.
  • Children in rural areas, poorer households and disadvantaged regions within countries have the least diverse diets.

Report:

  • The flagship report examined the latest data and evidence on the status, trends and inequities in the diets of children aged 6–23 months and barriers to nutritious diets.
  • The analysis used data from the UNICEF Global Database on Infant and Young Child Feeding.
  • The repository collated data from 607 nationally representative surveys conducted in 135 countries and territories, representing more than 90% of all children under 2 years of age globally.

Way Ahead:

  • Increasing the availability and affordability of nutritious foods
  • Implementing national standards and legislation to protect young children from unhealthy processed food and drink
  • Ending harmful marketing practices targeting children and families

 

Increasing Temperature

The Hindu

GS 3: Environment and Conservation

Context:

  • “Assessment of Climate Change over the Indian Region” has recently been released by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES).

Highlights of the report:

  • Indiahas warmed up 0.7° C during 1901-2018.
  • The 2010-2019 decade was the hottest with a mean temperature of 0.36° C higher than average. 
  • Prolonged exposure to heat is becoming detrimental to public health, especially the poor unable to afford support for coping with the heat.
  • India may experience a 4.4° C rise by the end of this century.
  • India has also suffered two of the 10 most expensive climate disasters in the last two years.
    • Super-cyclone “Cyclone Amphan”.
    • The “June-October Monsoon Flooding”: It was India’s heaviest monsoon rain in the last 25 years and the world’s seventh costliest.
    • Cyclone Tauktae hitting the west coast and Cyclone Yaas from the east.
  • According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, India’s Internally Displaced Populations (IDPs) are rising due to damaging climate events.
    • About 3.6 million out of 170 million living in coastal areas were displaced between 2008-2018.
    • Uttarakhand residents began deserting their homes after the Kedarnath floods in 2013 due to heavy precipitation that increases every year. Within 2050, rainfall is expected to rise by 6% and temperature by 1.6° C.
  • India lost about 235 square kilometres to coastal erosion due to climate change induced sea-level rise, land erosion and natural disasters such as tropical cyclones between 1990-2016.
  • India’s Deccan plateau has seen eight out of 17 severe droughts since 1876 in the 21st century (2000-2003; 2015-2018).
    • In Maharashtra and Karnataka, families deserted homes in 2019 due to an acute water crisis.

 

Havana Syndrome

The Indian Express

GS 3: Developments, Applications & Effects on Everyday Life

Context:

  • A US intelligence officer travelling with the CIA Director has reported symptoms of Havana Syndrome while the two were in India.

About

  • This is the first instance of the phenomenon being reported in India, at least on record, and could have diplomatic implications.
  • India’s Stand:
    • India is not in possession of any such counter espionage instrument and it wouldn’t want to sever its rising ties with the US.

What is Havana Syndrome?

  • It refers to a set of mental health symptoms that are said to be experienced by US intelligence and embassy officials in various countries.
  • It traces its roots to Cuba.
  • In late 2016, about a year after the US opened its embassy in Havana, some intelligence officials and members of the staff at the embassy began experiencing sudden bursts of pressure in their brain followed by persistent headaches, feeling of disorientation and insomnia.
  • Symptoms included: nausea, severe headaches, fatigue, dizziness, sleep problems and hearing loss.

Causes:

  • It was initially speculated to be a “sonic attack”.
  • However, further study suggests that the victims may have been subjected to high-powered microwaves that either damaged or interfered with the nervous system.
  • It is suspected that beams of high-powered microwaves are sent through a special gadget that Americans have begun calling “microwave weapons”.

2018 Study:

  • Recent study mentioned that specialists studied the brains of the victims and determined that the injuries resembled concussions, like those suffered by soldiers struck by roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan. But there were no signs of impact.

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