Current Affairs for OAS Prelims 2018: Environment & Ecology- March 2018

Asiatic Lion in Gir Forest

1. Environment Ministry notifies rules to regulate the use of persistent organic pollutants: The environment ministry has notified new Regulation of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) Rules, 2018 which ban the manufacture, trade, use, import and export of the seven toxic chemicals listed under the Stockholm Convention.

The Stockholm Convention aims to eliminate or restrict the production and use of all intentionally produced POPs found in industrial chemicals and pesticides. India signed the Convention in May 2002 and ratified it in January 2006. POPs are organic chemical substances—toxic to both humans and wildlife—which once released into the environment remain intact for years on end, become widely distributed throughout the environment as a result of natural processes involving soil, water and air, and accumulate in the fatty tissues of living organisms including humans. Because of human activities, POPs are widely distributed over large regions of the world including areas where they were never used.

POPs are recognized by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as Group 1 carcinogens or cancer-causing substances. Specific effects of POPs can include cancer, allergies and hypersensitivity, damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems, reproductive disorders, and disruption of the immune system.

2. India’s Endangered Asiatic Lion population increases to 600: The endangered Asiatic lion, which only lives in one forest in India, has fought back from the verge of extinction, with its population increasing to more than 600. The lion, which once roamed across southwest Asia but is now restricted to the 1,400 square kilometre (545 square mile) Gir sanctuary in Gujarat state, was listed as critically endangered in 2000, with its population under threat due to hunting and human encroachment on its habitat. A recent unofficial count found more than 600 lions in the area, up from 523 in a 2015 census.

In the late 1960s only about 180 Asiatic lions were thought to survive but an improvement in numbers prompted conservationists to raise their assessment to endangered in 2008. The population is currently growing at about two percent a year. The cats are cousins of the African lion—they are believed to have split away 100,000 years ago—but are slightly smaller and have a distinctive fold of skin along their bellies.

3. India most vulnerable country to climate change: HSBC report- India is the most vulnerable country to climate change, followed by Pakistan, the Philippines and Bangladesh, a ranking by HSBC showed. The bank assessed 67 developed, emerging and frontier markets on vulnerability to the physical impacts of climate change, sensitivity to extreme weather events, exposure to energy transition risks and ability to respond to climate change. The bank assessed 67 developed, emerging and frontier markets on vulnerability to the physical impacts of climate change, sensitivity to extreme weather events, exposure to energy transition risks and ability to respond to climate change.  Of the four nations assessed by HSBC to be most vulnerable, India has said climate change could cut agricultural incomes, particularly unirrigated areas that would be hit hardest by rising temperatures and declines in rainfall. Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines are susceptible to extreme weather events, such as storms and flooding. Pakistan was ranked by HSBC among nations least well-equipped to respond to climate risks.

South and southeast Asian countries accounted for half of the 10 most vulnerable countries. Oman, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Mexico, Kenya and South Africa are also in this group. The five countries least vulnerable to climate change risk are Finland, Sweden, Norway, Estonia and New Zealand. In its last ranking in 2016, HSBC only assessed G20 countries for vulnerability to climate risk.

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