Current Affairs - News Crux
State of the Global Climate 2022 Report
On April 21, 2023, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released its State of the Global Climate 2022 report, which revealed that despite three consecutive years of La Niña cooling, climate change continued to wreak havoc worldwide, with multiple records being broken.
- Global mean temperature in 2022 was 1.15 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial era average.
- The years 2015-2022 were the eight warmest in the instrumental record.
- Greenhouse gas concentrations reached a record high in 2021.
- Global carbon dioxide levels increased to nearly 415.7 parts per million, 149% higher than pre-industrial levels.
- Weather and climate-related events posed humanitarian risks.
- Tens of millions of people were affected, driving food insecurity and mass migration.
- The events cost billions of dollars in loss and damage.
- East Africa faced continuous droughts.
- Record-breaking rainfall in Pakistan and record-breaking heatwaves in China and Europe caused significant damage and economic losses.
- The report emphasizes how populations worldwide are gravely impacted by extreme weather and climate events.
- Melting glaciers and sea level rise, which again reached record levels in 2022, will continue to affect the planet for thousands of years.
- The report calls for accelerated climate action with deeper and faster emissions cuts to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
- The report also calls for massively scaled-up investments in adaptation and resilience, particularly for the most vulnerable countries and communities.
Global Food Policy 2023 Report
Recently, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) released the Global Food Policy 2023 report calling for long-term investments in building resilient and equitable food systems, beyond short-term fixes.
- Food insecurity has risen due to a variety of crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, natural disasters, civil unrest, and political instability.
- Climate change could lead to as many as 72 million more people undernourished by 2050, and conflict and displacement are also affected by the climate crisis.
- Africa has the highest proportion of food-insecure and undernourished people at 20%, more than double any other region of the world.
- In 2021, 768 million people worldwide were undernourished, well above the 572 million reported in 2014.
- The Russia-Ukraine war and related spikes in food and fertilizer prices worsened food insecurity in 2022, with fertilizer prices rising by 199% between May 2020 and the end of 2022.
- This has increased the number of people at risk of food insecurity, hunger, and malnutrition.
- As many as 205 million people in 45 countries experienced crisis-level acute food insecurity or worse in 2022, nearly double the number in 2016.
- A humanitarian-development-peace nexus approach can address the multifaceted nature of food crises more cost-effectively in the short to medium term.
- Governments should foster a business environment that encourages flexibility, technical and financial innovation.
- Investing in early warning systems and strengthening agrifood value chains is essential to support livelihoods and food security during crises.
First Global Buddhist Summit
On 20th & 21st April, 2023, the first Global Buddhist Summit was held in New Delhi.
- The Summit was hosted by the Ministry of Culture in collaboration with the International Buddhist Confederation.
- The theme of the Summit was “Responses to Contemporary Challenges: Philosophy to Praxis”.
- A declaration was adopted at the end of the summit on April 21 which sought focus on the need to address the burning challenges both within and globally and offer a sustainable model for future of the world.
- It also focused on need for environmental sustainability, need to free human race from conflict, peace, preservation and access to Buddhist pilgrimage sites.
First-Ever Waterbody Census
Recently, the Ministry of Jal Shakti has conducted the country's first census of water bodies, providing valuable insights into their distribution and usage across various states and districts.
- India has 24.24 lakh waterbodies, with West Bengal having the most (7.47 lakh) and Sikkim having the least (134).
- West Bengal has the highest number of ponds and reservoirs, Andhra Pradesh has the highest number of tanks, Tamil Nadu has the highest number of lakes, and Maharashtra is the leading state with water conservation schemes.
- West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas has been ranked as the top district having the highest number of waterbodies across the country.
- Ponds make up the majority of waterbodies (59.5%), followed by tanks (15.7%), reservoirs (12.1%), water conservation schemes/percolation tanks/check dams (9.3%), lakes (0.9%), and others (2.5%).
- Six other states have over one lakh waterbodies, while four states and UTs account for less than 1,000 waterbodies each.
- The census defines a waterbody as any natural or man-made unit bounded on all sides with some or no masonry work used for storing water for irrigation or other purposes such as industrial, pisciculture, domestic/drinking, recreation, religious, ground water recharge, etc.
- The census collected data on encroachment of waterbodies for the first time, revealing that 1.6% of all enumerated waterbodies are encroached, with 95.4% of encroached waterbodies in rural areas and the remaining 4.6% in urban areas.
MoU between Chief Ministers of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh
On April 20, 2023, the Chief Ministers of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to resolve a decades-long boundary dispute.
- The dispute is over 123 villages across 12 districts of Arunachal Pradesh and eight of Assam.
- Assam and Arunachal Pradesh share an 804.1-km-long border that has been in dispute since Arunachal Pradesh became a Union territory in 1972 and later a state on February 20, 1987.
- Out of the 123 villages claimed by Arunachal Pradesh before the Local Commission in 2007, 71 have been amicably resolved so far.
- The dispute over 37 of these 123 villages had been resolved on July 15, 2022, itself with the signing of the Namsai Declaration.
- The state governments agree that no new claim area or village will be added in the future beyond these 123 villages.
- The agreement will end the dispute relating to 123 villages along the border, keeping in view the historical perspective, demographic profile, administrative convenience, proximity to the border, and the aspirations of the residents.
Renewable Energy Transitions and Their Impact on Nature: A report
On April 20, 2023, in its first major report, CLEANaction, which is a coalition of NGOs, leading businesses, government bodies, and financial institutions, including WWF and IRENA as founding members, released a report on renewable energy transitions and their impact on nature.
- The report highlighted that wind and solar energy are cleaner options than other renewables such as hydropower, bioenergy, and nuclear energy.
- Construction of other renewable energy projects, such as hydropower dams and associated reservoirs, often leads to the inundation of vast swathes of natural habitat and alters natural flow regimes and downstream habitats.
- Bioenergy, including biomass, biofuel, and biogas, has a larger biodiversity impact per unit of energy than that of wind and solar.
- Governments should consider the impact on nature at the earliest stage by evaluating the renewable energy value chain and developing national regulatory schemes that require energy developers to contribute to national conservation targets.
- The report suggested adopting a circular economy model prioritizing material reuse to avoid and minimize impacts on nature.
YZ Ceti b: A Rocky, Earth-Sized Exoplanet
Recently, astronomers have detected a repeating radio signal from YZ Ceti b, a rocky, earth-sized exoplanet rotating around a small red dwarf star, YZ Ceti, just 12 light-years from Earth.
- The discovery of a magnetic field around an exoplanet suggests that it could be a habitable planet.
- The radio waves were confirmed to exist by the interaction between the planet's magnetic field and the star.
- The existence of an exoplanetary magnetic field confirms the presence of a rocky exoplanet in close proximity to its star.
- The radio waves are strong enough to be picked up on Earth.
- Intense bursts of energy from the YZ Ceti star-exoplanet exchange produce spectacular auroral lights, similar to the disruptions caused by energy surges from the sun on Earth and orbiting satellites.
- Astronomers hope that further research will confirm these results and help them learn more about the rocky netherworlds that exist in the deepest reaches of space.
Genetic Markers Associated with Preterm Birth
Recently, Indian scientists working in the Garbh-Ini programme have identified 19 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), or genetic markers, that have been found to be associated with preterm birth.
- The study was conducted by the Garbh-Ini team on 6,211 women from Haryana through a genome-wide association study (GWAS) on spontaneous preterm birth.
- Preterm birth is a significant cause of neonatal deaths and complications globally, and around 13% of babies born annually in India are born preterm.
- The study found that 5 SNPs increase the risk of early preterm birth (birth before 33 weeks) and can predict premature births.
- 4 SNPs found in the cohort were significantly associated trans-ethnic SNPs, which showed association both in Indian women as well as in women belonging to the European ancestral population.
- The study is important for public health, especially in India and Southeast Asia, as preterm births are one of the leading causes of neonatal deaths.
- The research could help doctors identify women at risk of preterm delivery and monitor them closely.
- The study is significant since preterm birth is the largest cause of neonatal deaths and complications globally.
The United Nations Population Fund's State of World Population report
On April 19, the United Nations Population Fund's State of World Population report revealed that India’s population is set to overtake the population of China.
- According to the report, India's population will be 1.4286 billion, compared to China's 1.4257 billion at mid-year.
- The global population is estimated to hit 8.045 billion by the same date.
- China's population shrank last year for the first time in more than six decades, according to official data.
- India has not conducted a census since 2011 and has no recent official data on its population due to the pandemic and logistical hurdles.
- Critics claim that the government is delaying the census to hide data on contentious issues such as unemployment ahead of national elections.
- According to the Pew Research Centre, India's population has grown by more than one billion people since 1950; the year the U.N. began gathering population data.
FAO Report on Gender Gap in Agri-Food Systems
Recently, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) released a report highlighting the importance of closing the gender gap in agri-food systems.
- The report suggests that closing the gender gap in farm productivity and agri-food-system employment would increase global gross domestic product (GDP) by 1% or nearly $1 trillion.
- Half of small-scale producers benefiting from development interventions focused on women would raise the incomes of an additional 58 million people and increase the resilience of an additional 235 million people.
- Women in agri-food systems face barriers and constraints that men do not, such as rigid gender norms and roles, unequal power dynamics, and discriminatory social structures.
- The report suggests that eliminating discrimination against women brings tangible benefits and that intervention is essential at every level of agri-food systems.
- Engaging with men and boys can also help make change happen faster.
- Giving women more access to and control over livestock, water, seeds, land, technology, and finance is important to grow their livelihoods.
- The report also reviewed 13 agricultural development projects from nine countries in Africa and South Asia, which showed mixed impacts on empowerment.
- However, one-third of agri-food system interventions in projects in Africa and South Asia led to a statistically significant increase in household gender parity, while women's control over income, asset ownership, and group membership all increased in projects in Africa and South Asia.