10 Jun to 24 Jun, 2023

Table of contents

1   Weekly Current Affairs Practice

a  

Fortnightly KOSMOS MCQ PRACTICE

2   Feature Article

a  

REPURPOSING ENVIRONMENTALLY HARMFUL SUBSIDIES

3   News in Brief

a  

China’s population grew older and richer : Policy lessons for some African countries

b  

Groundwater extraction has tilted Earth’s spin

4   Key Terms

a  

Graded Response Action Plan

b  

Panzootic

c  

Deglaciation

d  

Overturning circulation

e  

Rock based cavern

5   Places in the News

a  

Map

6   Case Study of The Week

a  

Development & Displacement : THE EAST WEST METRO IN KOLKATA

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Weekly Current Affairs Practice

Fortnightly KOSMOS MCQ PRACTICE


Question:1 With reference to The Global Report on Internal Displacement 2023 (GRID-2023), consider the following statements:

  1. Pakistan had the highest number of disaster displacements in the world in 2022.
  2. Weather related disasters are largely the result of the effects of La Niña.
  3. Internally Displaced and Rehabilitation Agency is the leading source of information and analysis on internal displacement .

Which of the above mentioned statements is/ are correct ?

  1. One only
  2. Two only
  3. Three only
  4. None

Question:2 Consider the following statements regarding Ground water extraction and Land subsidence:

  1. Kolkata and parts of eastern India experience overexploited groundwater blocks and land subsidence due to rampant mining .
  2. More than 80% of the groundwater blocks are over exploited in Delhi .

Which of the above mentioned statements is/ are correct ?

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Question:3 Consider the following statements regarding Malnutrition :

  1. Severe Acute Malnutrition also known as wasting, is defined by a weight-for-height indicator.
  2. Moderate Acute malnutrition is defined by a weight-for-height indicator

Which of the above mentioned statements is / are correct ?

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Question:4  With reference to International Day for Biological Diversity , consider the following statements:

  1. It’s goal is to deliver research based solutions to harness biodiversity.
  2. UN designated the day to commemorate the conference on the Human Environment

Which of the above mentioned statements is/ are correct ?

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Question:5 Consider the following statements regarding Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework:

  1. It is also referred as ‘ 30 by 30 ‘  Target , that would afford 30% of earth’s land and oceans protected status by 2030.
  2. Parties adopted the voluntary guidelines for effective implementation to climate change adaptation
  3. Governments also agreed to accelerate action to achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets

Which of the above mentioned statements is/ are correct ?

  1. Only one
  2. Only two
  3. Only three
  4. None

Question:6 Consider the following statements regarding Greenhouse Gas Watch :

  1. It’s mission is to build and support a global community of experts for  measuring, accounting , auditing and managing GHG emissions
  2. It develops technically rigorous GHG training curricula delivered globally via a “low carbon” e-learning portal.
  3. It conducts multiple training programs for leading climate change institutions including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Which of the above mentioned statements is/ are correct?

  1. Only one
  2. Only two
  3. Only three
  4. None

Question:7 Consider the following statements regarding Overturning Circulation :

  1. These are spiralling circulations of swirling water that can travel long distances before dissipating.
  2. They are centred around 60 degrees North and South latitudes and Southern Ocean

Which of the above mentioned statements is/ are correct ?

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Question:8 Consider the following statements regarding Chilika lake :

  1. Major attraction at Chilika lake is Irrawaddy dolphin , often spotted at Satpada island
  2. Chilika lake recorded the highest number of bird sightings in India.

Which of the above mentioned statements is/ are correct ?

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Question:9 Consider the following statements regarding Chytrid infects :

  1. Chytrid infects frogs by reproducing in their skin, affecting their ability to balance water and salt levels.
  2. Chytrid originated in Asia and has the lowest mortality rate comparison to other fungal disease.

Which of the above mentioned statements is/ are correct ?

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Question:10 Consider the following statements regarding Plastics :

  1. Primary plastics are designed for commercial use , even in textiles .
  2. Secondary plastics formed from the breakdown of larger plastics.

Which of the above mentioned statements is/ are correct?

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Question:11 With reference to  Central Pollution Control Board Guidelines for stone crushing sector:

  1. The stone crushers should obtain consent to establish and consent to operate (CTO) from the District Magistrate  before starting their operations.
  2. Stone crushing unit shall comply with norms prescribed under Air ( Prevention and Control of pollution ) Act , 1981.

Which of the above mentioned statements is/ are correct?

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Question:12 International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) urges immediate global action to honour the Paris Agreement. Which among the following countries are part of it ?

  1. Pakistan
  2. India
  3. Myanmar
  4. Bangladesh

Select the correct code from the following:

  1. 1, 2 and 3
  2. 2,3 and 4
  3. 1, 3 and 4
  4. 1, 2 , 3 and 4

Question:13 Consider the following statements:

  1. Central African Republic
  2. Ethiopia
  3. Democratic Republic of Congo.
  4. Yemen

Which of the above mentioned are categorised as Hunger Hotspots with high concern ?

  1. Only one country
  2. Only two countries
  3. Only three countries
  4. All four countries

Question:14 Consider the following pairs :

          Glacier.                 River

  1. Bandarpunch :         Yamuna
  2. Bara Shigri. :           Chenab
  3. Milam. :                   Mandakini
  4. Siachen. :                Nubra

Which of the above mentioned pairs are correctly matched ?

  1. One pair
  2. Two pairs
  3. Three pairs
  4. Four pairs

Question:15 Recently 62 desiccation tolerant vascular plant species have been discovered in which among the following places?

  1. Ladakh
  2. Thar desert
  3. Western Ghats
  4. Coastal areas of Eastern Ghats

Keywords: Kosmos
Feature Article

REPURPOSING ENVIRONMENTALLY HARMFUL SUBSIDIES


Why in news? Detox Development: Repurposing Environmentally Harmful Subsidies examines how subsidy reform can help safeguard the world’s foundational natural assets—clean air, land, and oceans.

Background:

  • Subsidies for fossil fuels, agriculture, and fisheries are driving the degradation of assets and harming people, the planet, and economies. These subsidies exceed US$7 trillion per year—or about 8 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP).

About:

Fossil fuel subsidies

  • Fossil fuel usage—incentivized by vast subsidies—is a key driver of the 7 million premature deaths each year due to air pollution. About 94 percent of the world’s population is exposed to unsafe particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations.
  • Countries around the world actively paid about US$577 billion in 2021 to artificially lower the price of polluting fuels such as oil, gas, and coal.
  • By increasing fossil fuel prices, subsidy reform can reduce the incentives to use polluting fuels—but the effectiveness of this instrument can be limited.
  • Fossil fuel subsidy reforms are pro-poor.
  • Subsidy reform could reduce air pollution and save up to 360,000 lives by 2035 in 25 high-pollution, high-subsidy countries.

Agriculture subsidies

  • Richer countries spend more on agricultural subsidies than poorer countries, even when seen relative to total agricultural production.
  • Agricultural subsidies tend to benefit wealthier farmers—because wealthier farmers use more inputs and produce more outputs—and usually fail to improve productivity or efficiency.
  • Subsidies incentivize excessive fertilizer usage to the extent that it suppresses agricultural productivity, degrades soils and waterways, and damages people’s health.
  • Agricultural subsidies are responsible for the loss of 2.2 million hectares of forest per year, equivalent to 14 percent of global deforestation.

Fishery subsidies

  • Subsidies are a key driver of excess fishing capacity, dwindling fish stocks, and lower fishing rents.

Explicit subsidies that impact air pollution and the agriculture and fishery sectors

  • High-income and upper-middle-income countries are responsible for a disproportionate share of global explicit subsidies. Nevertheless, the budgetary impacts on low- and lower-middle-income countries from explicit subsidies are nontrivial.
  • For fossil fuels alone, explicit subsidies—that is, direct fiscal support—totalled US$577 billion in 2021. This amount has the triple effect of increasing the consumption of fossil fuels, reducing the incentives for investing in energy-efficient technologies, and making it more difficult for cleaner and renewable forms of energy to compete.
  • In the agriculture sector, explicit subsidies in countries with available data total US$635 billion per year, or 18 percent of agricultural value added in these countries. This form of subsidy distorts farmers’ decisions, often reducing productivity and causing harmful environmental spillovers that encourage deforestation, pollute waterways, and deplete water supplies—often beyond national borders.
  • By some estimates, explicit subsidies in the fisheries sector total US$35.4 billion per year. These subsidies include spending on fuel subsidies, fishing access agreements, boat construction and renewal, fisheries development projects, fishing port development, tax exemptions, and marketing and storage infrastructure. Indeed, five entities—China, the European Union, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the United States—contribute 58 percent of the total estimated subsidy.

Implicit subsidies that impact air pollution and the agriculture and fishery sectors

  • Implicit subsidies are the price difference between the “undistorted” (socially optimal) price and the actual price that emerges after the subsidy is paid.
  • Implicit subsidies represent some of the most challenging environmental problems of our time. Implicit subsidies for fossil fuels amount to an estimated US$5.4 trillion per year, or more than 6 percent of global GDP, with the local impacts of air pollution and global climate change constituting more than 75 percent of the total.
  • For fisheries, the largest implicit subsidy is the lack of effective regulations to reduce overcapacity and prevent overfishing.

Effect of subsidies on air quality and health

  • About 94 percent of humanity are directly exposed to unsafe average concentrations of fine particulate matter.
  • Much of the low- and middle-income world is exposed to damaging levels of PM2.5 of more than 15 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3), a level that the World Health Organization deems to be unsafe.
  • Global Burden of Disease study estimates that air pollution causes about 7 million deaths each year.

Effect of Subsidies on agriculture

  • Global analysis finds that, when countries increase their coupled subsidies, the technical efficiency of farming declines, even if output increases.
  • Subsidies may raise total agricultural production or even yields, they do so at the expense of efficiency, leading to wasted inputs and greater environmental destruction.
  • Subsidies tend to be poorly targeted to poor farmers and can exacerbate inequalities. For instance, in Malawi and Tanzania, input subsidy programs designed to reach the poor pay US$5 to the top income quintile for every US$1 paid to the bottom income quintile.
  • Agricultural subsidies can also widen the gender and equity gaps in agriculture, disproportionately affecting women and marginalised groups. Yet despite comprising more than 48 percent of the agricultural labor force in low- and middle-income countries, women and some marginalised groups continue to have less access than men to input and output markets as well as to land ownership.
  • In India , the use of subsidised fertilizers is so excessive that it actually harms yields. New research finds that in subregions of South Asia and East Asia, use of nitrogen fertiliser is well beyond what is considered efficient, exacerbated by subsidies.
  • Globally, crops absorb only about 45 percent of nitrogen that is applied to fields. Part of the excess fertiliser runs off into waterways, with adverse effects on the environment and human health.
  • Agricultural subsidies are responsible for the loss of 2.2 million hectares of forest per year, equivalent to 14 percent of annual deforestation and 0.5 percent of global CO2-eq emissions. By increasing the profitability of cultivating such crops, subsidies induce farmers to expand cropland into forest frontiers. This expansion is particularly problematic in the major tropical forests of the world like Amazon.
  • Livestock subsidies in the United States drive deforestation in Brazil by increasing demand for soybeans as feedstock, a relationship that is likely not isolated to these two countries.

Effect of Subsidies on fisheries

  • More than 30 percent of global fish stocks are overfished, driven by inadequate control of access to fish stocks and harmful subsidies. This report focuses on three ecosystems—the Mauritanian EEZ, South China Sea, and the East China Sea—where large harmful subsidies are given to fishing vessels.
  • Results from the Mauritanian EEZ show that, while the aggregate effect of removing all harmful subsidies is an increase in total rents, artisanal fishers—who are often small- scale, poorer fishers—may lose out significantly.

Effect of subsidies on Transport

  • The negative health externalities arising from transport impose a high cost on society. Road transport is source of exposure to air and noise pollution.
  • Main secondary pollutants attributed to transport activity are nitrogen dioxide and ground ozone level.
  • Regional air pollution Impacts and causes material damage to buildings and vegetation.
  • 50 million cars are scrapped globally , generating large waste streams of metals, plastics , tyres and used oil

Five  guiding principles for designing and implementing successful subsidy reforms

  • Building public acceptance and credibility is key, especially when political opposition threatens to derail reform efforts. Effective communication and transparency are needed to build credibility of assurances to address the adverse consequences of reform.
  • Complementary measures are necessary when price-based instruments (such as subsidy reductions) are insufficient to solve environmental externalities. For instance, improving public transit can help replace fossil fuels, and laws can protect endangered natural capital.
  • Social protection and compensation are an imperative in all contexts where subsidy removal may threaten the livelihoods of vulnerable groups and increase poverty.
  • Carefully sequenced reforms can reduce the disruption from large price shocks due to the one-off removal of subsidies and enable households and firms to adjust gradually.
  • Sound strategies for reinvesting reform revenues can ensure that subsidy reforms help to deliver on development priorities, such as infrastructure, health, and education—while lending credibility to the public good objectives of subsidy reform.

Conclusion:

The world’s sustainable development goals are directly undermined by the roughly US$1.25 trillion in explicit subsidies paid every year to fossil fuel, agriculture, and fishery sectors, etc.  Subsidy reform can remove distorted incentives that obstruct sustainability goals, but it also can unlock significant domestic financing to facilitate and accelerate sustainable development efforts that would have greater, wider, and more equitable benefits.

Where to use?

Paper I ( Geography optional ) : Applied climatology , Global Climatic changes

Keywords: Kosmos
News in Brief

China’s population grew older and richer : Policy lessons for some African countries


Why in news?: China capitalised on its demographic profile through policies which captured the working-age population

About:

  • China, once which has world’s largest population is now falling. China has successfully achieved high economic growth , reduced poverty and increased per capita income.
  • China’s high number of birth in 1950s and 1960s along with public health and basic education contributed 15% of China’s growth over the period 1980 to 2000.

China’s adjustments

  • As early as 1980s, China was young and poor and had a concern that it’s population would first become old before it became per capita economically rich.
  • Between 1970s and 2010, China’s working age population share would increase from 55% to 73% of total population
  • One unique adjustment to avoid this fear was the implementation of One Child policy
  • Another was that China captured the demographic dividends till late 1970s and prepared to sustain the economy .
  • Coastal development strategy was made to open up trade and attract Foreign Direct investment through Special Economic Zones.
  • China introduced policy reforms in manufacturing and service sector , including pension and wealth management .
  • China expanded and upgraded its university sector and build a national pension , healthcare system and insurance even to the poorest and remote.
  • These basic income and health insurance were put in place to prevent hundred of millions of pensioners falling back in poverty in older age.

Lessons for Africa

  • African countries differ in demographic profile with two broad categories – those with high percentage of young people and those with sizeable proportion of working age people.
  • China’s one child policy approach is relevant to all countries of Africa , where life expectancy is increasing , implying the rise in the share of elders.

For example : Mauritius is considered to be “ ageing “, while Niger is the world’s youngest country

Future course of action for countries

  • Young countries to be made more investments in basic healthcare, maternal health ,to ultimately reduce the fertility rate .
  • Investments in education , particularly in primary education for children is much needed.
  • Countries like Morocco and South Africa are in demographic dividend window with favourable share of working age citizens. To maximise jobs , focus should be on conducive business environment and attract labour intensive investment.
  • Immediate need is to elevate productivity per worker , adapt to new technological frontiers , resulting in cluster of well trained graduates in science and technology.

Getting old before rich is now more common

  • China’s economic demography - getting old before getting rich - is now relatively mainstream.
  • In this century, improvements in public health, access to family planning technologies, and the education of girls, among other factors, means that many developing countries are now experiencing falling mortality and a total fertility rate at lower per capita incomes.
  • This has led to many countries getting older without getting rich, presenting the threat of many poor elders and stagnating national economic prospects.
  • Therefore, it becomes important to advance economic development policies in step with demographic change. This is what China did when it was still poor and young.
  • By learning from China’s experiences and creating clear policies, African countries can grasp their economic and demographic potential.

Where to use ?

Paper I ( Geography optional ) : World population problems , population as social capital

Keywords: Kosmos
News in Brief

Groundwater extraction has tilted Earth’s spin


Why in news ? Attempts to slow groundwater depletion rates in sensitive regions could alter the change in drift.

About:

  • According to a new study , Humans have caused marked tilts in the Earth’s axis by pumping water out of the ground and moving it elsewhere.
  • Pronounced shifts in the Earth’s axis of rotation can impact our planet’s climate.
  • Groundwater pumping has tilted the planet nearly 80 centimetres east between 1993 and 2010 alone. The water circulated across the planet determines how mass is distributed.
  • Scientists had predicted that between 1993 and 2010, people pumped 2,150 gigatons of groundwater.
  • The planet’s geographic north and south poles are where its axis intersects the surface; however, they are not fixed. The axis and hence the poles fluctuate due to variations in the Earth’s mass distribution.
  • In the past, the poles’ drift was only caused by natural forces like ocean currents and the convection of heated rock deep beneath the Earth. But the new research pitched the redistribution of groundwater as the primary culprit for the drift.
  • Earth’s rotational pole actually changes a lot. Rotational pole normally changes by several metres within about a year, so changes due to groundwater pumping don’t run the risk of shifting seasons. But on geologic time scales, polar drift can have an impact on climate.
  • Among climate-related causes, the redistribution of groundwater actually has the largest impact on the drift of the rotational pole.
  • Redistributing water from the mid-latitudes significantly influences polar drift; therefore, the location of redistribution determines polar drift. During the study period, most redistribution occurred in western North America and northwestern India — both located at mid-latitudes.

Where to use?

Paper I ( Geography optional ) : Physical conditions of earth’s interior

Keywords: Kosmos
Key Terms

Graded Response Action Plan


Graded Response Action Plan : It  is a set of measures to be taken to reduce air pollution depending on the current level of pollution in Delhi and adjoining areas. It is an emergency response plan, i.e., to be implemented only when the quality of air goes below a certain threshold.

Keywords: Kosmos
Key Terms

Panzootic


Panzootic : It relates  to a disease that occurs in a widespread outbreak among a large number of animals, usually affecting more than one species For the past 40 years, a devastating fungal disease, called chytridiomycosis or chytrid, has been ravaging frog populations around the world, wiping out 90 species. This is a “panzootic” – a pandemic in the animal world.

Keywords: Kosmos
Key Terms

Deglaciation


Deglaciation: Deglaciation refers to the retreat or melting of ice sheets and glaciers. The last period of significant deglaciation marked the end of the most recent ice age, about 8,000 to 17,000 years ago. While deglaciation helped mark the end of the last ice age, glacial retreat in the 21st century helps support the scientific theory of global warming.

Keywords: Kosmos
Key Terms

Overturning circulation


Overturning circulation : It refers to the global network of ocean currents that redistribute heat, carbon, and nutrients across the world's oceans. In Antarctica, it involves the sinking of dense, oxygen-rich water from the surface, its spread along the sea floor, and slow rise in distant regions. Recently, Deep Ocean currents in Antarctica are slowing down earlier than predicted, potentially disrupting the crucial overturning circulation.

Keywords: Kosmos
Key Terms

Rock based cavern


Rock based cavern : Excavated rock-based caverns for oil reserves are underground spaces created by manually excavating and removing rock materials to form large storage cavities.Excavated rock caverns are constructed by drilling, blasting, and removing rock layers to create the desired storage space. The rock walls and ceilings of these caverns serve as the natural barriers for containing the stored oil.

Keywords: Kosmos
Places in the News

Map


  1. Tangi : It is a town in Khordha district of Odisha State near Chilika lake. The Tangi range recorded the highest number of bird sightings, followed by Balugaon, Satapada, Chilika and Rambha. ( approx. Chilika lake )
  2. Satpada island : The island is located at the northeast cape of Chilika Lakeand Bay of Bengal. The famous Chilika dolphins can be seen in their natural best here. There are also ample opportunities for canoeing, kayaking and boating. A small island called Rajahamsa is situated near this place at the mouth of the lagoon ( approx. Chilika lake )
  3. Viper island : It is an island in the South Andaman district of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is a serene beautiful tourist destination situated near Port Blair's harbour. ( approx . Port Blair)
  4. Sewri : Sewri was a small hamlet on the eastern shore of the Parelisland, one of the original seven islands of Bombay. India’s first and longest sea ropeway project that will connect Mumbai with the Elephanta Caves, begins from Sewri in Mumbai’s east coast and end at Raigad district’s Elephanta Island. ( approx. Nhava Sheva )
  5. Karnali river : Karnali rises from Mt. Kailash on the Tibetan Plateau, and flows 671 miles to its confluence with the Ganges River in India. Recently ,NHPC and VUCL, Nepal sign MoU for development of Phukot Karnali Hydro Electric Project in Nepal.

Keywords: Kosmos
Case Study of The Week

Development & Displacement : THE EAST WEST METRO IN KOLKATA


  • Compared to other Indian cities, Kolkata’s economy has remained stagnant partly because of insufficient transportation infrastructure.
  • The East-West Metro Line would be the second subway line in the city and is meant to alleviate automobile traffic and provide much-needed infrastructure to support the urban economy.
  • Despite the positive impact the metro line could make, land needed to construct the subway is to be taken from an informal settlement which led to social , environmental and economic concerns in development planning.
  • Since the inception of the project, there has been tensions between residents and administration, violation of rights of long term residents.

Keywords: Kosmos
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