World Rhino day
- The “world’s largest stockpile” of rhino horns was consigned to flames in eastern Assam’s Bokakhat, the headquarters of the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve.
- The event, timed with World Rhino Day, was aimed at dispelling myths that have driven the illegal horn trade and the poaching of the animal
- organised this event to convey to the world that rhino horns are just a mass of compacted hair and they have no medicinal value.
- We urge people not to kill these rare animals or buy their horns based on superstitions or myths.
World Rhino day
- Every year on September 22, the world honours the five species of rhinos.
- The five rhino species are Black, White, Greater One-horned, Sumatran, and Javan. Humans’ desire for rhinoceros’ unique horns has driven all five of the world’s different rhinoceros species to the brink of extinction.
- The horns are in high demand due to their therapeutic qualities
- The IUCN lists the one-horned rhino, also known as the Indian rhinoceros, as a vulnerable species. The animal is primarily found in the Himalayan foothills — India and Nepal.
- A Javan rhino subspecies was declared extinct in 2011. Only 80 Sumatran rhinos are left today. The black rhino is likewise on the verge of extinction. White rhinos are the most numerous of the five rhino species, with around 20,000 in the wild.
- The larger one-horned rhino, sometimes known as the Indian rhino, is increasing in number in India as a result of conservation initiatives. There are currently around 3,500 of these rhinos. They are, however, nonetheless regarded susceptible.
- In recent weeks, the Supreme Court of India’s collegium has been busy.
- New judges have been appointed to the Court on its advice and long overdue vacancies have been filled up
- long-standing apprehensions about the collegium’s operation remain unaddressed: specifically, its opacity and a lack of independent scrutiny of its decisions
- Separation of powers is a bedrock principle of Indian constitutionalism.
- Inherent in that idea is the guarantee of an autonomous judiciary.
- But the question of how to strike a balance between the sovereign function of making appointments and the need to ensure an independent judiciary has long plagued the republic
- The collegium for appointments to the Supreme Court and for transfers between High Courts now comprises the CJI and his four senior-most colleagues, and for appointments to the High Courts comprises the CJI and his two senior-most colleagues.
- When appointing judges to the High Courts, the collegium must also consult other senior judges on the Supreme Court who had previously served as judges of the High Court under consideration. All of this is contained in a “Memorandum of Procedure” (MoP).
- Through the 99th Constitutional Amendment– The National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), that the law created, comprised members from the judiciary, the executive, and the lay-public.
- But the Court scuppered the efforts to replace the collegium and it held in the Fourth Judges Case that judicial primacy in making appointments and transfers was an essential feature of the Constitution
Sea level Rise
- The recently published Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report from Working Group I — ‘Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis’ — is a clarion call for climate action.
- It provides one of the most expansive scientific reviews on the science and impacts of climate change.
- The report discusses five different shared socio-economic pathways for the future with varying levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
- The scenarios illustrated are the following: very low and low GHG emissions, where emissions decline to net zero around or after the middle of the century, beyond which emissions are net negative; intermediate GHG emissions; high and very high emissions where they are double the current levels by 2100 and 2050, respectively.
- Even in the intermediate scenario, it is extremely likely that average warming will exceed 2°C near mid-century.
- The average global temperature is already 1.09°C higher than preindustrial levels and CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is currently 410 ppm compared to 285 ppm in 1850
- Close to 700 million people worldwide live along the coast and there continue to be plans to expand coastal cities.
- Therefore, understanding the risks involved from climate change and sea level rise in the 21st and 22nd centuries is crucial.
- Sea level rise will continue after emissions no longer increase, because oceans respond slowly to warming
Sea level rise
- Sea level rise occurs mainly due to the expansion of warm ocean waters, melting of glaciers on land, and the melting of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.
- Global mean sea level (GMSL) rose by 0.2m between 1901 and 2018.
- The average rate of sea level rise was 1.3 mm/year (1901-1971) and rose to 3.7 mm/year (2006-2018)
- Ice sheets can destabilise rapidly as the water gets warm (marine ice sheet instability or MISI).
- Ice cliffs can collapse swiftly in a related process, leading to rapid sea level rise; this is marine ice cliff instability (MICI).
- Under strong warming scenarios, ice shelves become vulnerable and lead to MISI
- According to the UN Environment Programme Emissions Gap Report, the world is heading for a temperature rise above 3°C this century, which is double the Paris Agreement aspiration.
- And there is deep uncertainty in sea level projections for warming above 3°C.
Vulnerability in India
- Communities along the coast in India are vulnerable to sea level rise and storms, which will become more intense and frequent.
- They will be accompanied by storm surges, heavy rain and flooding.
- Even the 0.1m to 0.2m rise expected along India in the next few decades can cause frequent coastal flooding
- Adaptation to sea level rise must include a range of measures, along with coastal regulation, which should be stricter, not laxer, as it has become with each update of the Coastal Regulation Zone.
- The government should not insure or bail out speculators, coastal communities should be alerted in advance and protected during severe weather events, natural and other barriers should be considered in a limited manner to protect certain vulnerable areas, and retreat should be part of the adaptation strategies for some very low lying areas
Quad and economic game
- The four nations are vibrant democracies and open economies. Three are developed countries and one is an emerging market.
- The Quad leaders met formally but virtually for the first time in March this year, and the joint statement captured the “spirit of the Quad”, stressing democratic values, while pledging to strengthen cooperation on the “defining challenges” of the times.
- On the economic side, challenges were identified as the economic and health impacts of COVID-19, cyberspace, critical technologies, and quality infrastructure investment.
- Working groups were set up on vaccines, critical and emerging technologies, and climate action.
- For India, each of the other three countries is a strategic partner, and bilateral and multilateral initiatives have been taken across multiple areas in different fora with each.
- The Quad syncs with India’s other regional programmes such as the Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative and the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative
- India’s total trade with the three Quad partners was over $108 billion in 2020-21, accounting for almost 16% of its total merchandise exports and imports.
- On the investment side, the U.S. is India’s second largest source of foreign direct investments, while Japan has a notable footprint in India’s major infrastructure projects.
- Inflows from Australia amount to less than a billion dollars, but the country has outlined a long-term strategy for economic engagement with India.
- To advance their goals for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific, the four participants of Quad must activate business partnerships meaningfully with definitive measures to align economic and strategic objectives.
- Lowering trade barriers and boosting trade linkages among the partner countries as well as in the Indo-Pacific region
Quality infrastructure investment
- Green infrastructure creation must be built into the template
- The third priority area for the Quad is climate change for which a working group has been set up.
- Cooperation on multiple dimensions of the climate challenge is proposed, including finance, emissions reduction, technology and capacity-building
WHO tighten air quality norms
- The World Health Organisation (WHO), in its first-ever update since 2005, has tightened global air pollution standards in recognition of the emerging science in the past decade that the impact of air pollution on health is much more serious than earlier envisaged.
- The move does not have an immediate effect in India as the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) do not meet the WHO’s existing standards.
- The government has a dedicated National Clean Air Programme that aims for a 20% to 30% reduction in particulate matter concentrations by 2024 in 122 cities, keeping 2017 as the base year for the comparison of concentration
- The upper limit of annual PM2.5 as per the 2005 standards, which is what countries now follow, is 10 microgram per cubic metre.
- That has now been revised to five microgram per cubic metre.
- The 24-hour ceiling used to be 25 microgram but has now dropped to 15.
- The upper limit of PM10, or particulate matter of size exceeding 10 microgram, is 20 microgram and has now been revised to 15, whereas the 24- hour value has been revised from 50 to 45 microgram.
- India’s NAAQs — last revised in 2009 — specify an annual limit of 60 microgram per cubic metre for PM10 and 100 for a 24-hour period.
- Similarly it’s 40 for PM 2.5 annually and 60 on a 24-hour period.
- There are also standards for a host of chemical pollutants including sulphur dioxide, lead and nitrogen dioxide