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21st September 2022

How climate change is fueling hurricanes

Context

Hurricane Fiona recently intensified into the 2022 Atlantic season's first major hurricane.

About

About Hurricanes

Hurricanes have three main parts

  • the calm eye in the center
  • the eyewall where the winds and rains are the strongest
  • the rain bands which spin out from the center and give the storm its size
  • A hurricane is a large rotating storm with high speeds of wind that gust at least 74 mph that forms over warm waters in tropical areas.
  • In the southern hemisphere, hurricanes rotate in a clockwise direction, and in the northern hemisphere they rotate in an anti-clockwise direction.
    • This is due to what’s called the Coriolis Force, produced by the Earth’s rotation.

How are hurricanes formed?

Hurricanes are given names by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) so that they can be distinguished.

  • Hurricanes begin as tropical disturbances in warm ocean waters with surface temperatures of at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.5 degrees Celsius). Those low-pressure systems are fed by energy from warm seas.
  • Tropical Depression: A storm with wind speeds of 38 miles (61 km) an hour or less is classified as a tropical depression.
  • Tropical storm: It becomes a tropical storm, when its sustained wind speeds top 39 miles (63 km) an hour.

The system divides storms into five categories:

  • Category 1: Winds 74 to 95 mph (Minor damage)
  • Category 2: Winds 96 to 110 mph (Extensive damage — Can uproot trees and break windows)
  • Category 3: Winds 111 to 129 mph (Devastating — Can break windows and doors)
  • Category 4: Winds 130 to 156 mph (Catastrophic damage — Can tear off roofs)
  • Category 5:Winds 157 mph or higher (The absolute worst and can level houses and destroy buildings)

Are Hurricanes impacted by climate change?

  • Rising temperature: Hurricanes feed off of heat energy, so as Earth's global temperatures continue to rise, hurricanes are bound to be affected.
  • Intensification: Climate change is making hurricanes wetter, windier and altogether more intense. There is also evidence that it is causing storms to travel more slowly, meaning they can dump more water in one place.
  • Heavy rainfall: Climate change can also boost the amount of rainfall delivered by a storm. Because a warmer atmosphere can also hold more moisture, water vapor builds up until clouds break, sending down heavy rain.
    • According to a recent study, during the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season (one of the most active on record), climate change boosted hourly rainfall rates in hurricane-force storms by 8%-11%.

Global Registry of Fossil Fuels

Context

A first-of-its-kind database for tracking the world’s fossil fuel production, reserves and emissions l`aunched recently to coincide with climate talks taking place at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

About

About Global Registry of Fossil Fuels:

The registry is developed by

  • Carbon Tracker, a non-profit think tank that researches the energy transition’s effect on financial markets, and
  • Global Energy Monitor, an organization that tracks a variety of energy projects around the globe.
  • The Global Registry of Fossil Fuels is an open, transparent repository of data on fossil fuel production worldwide, expressed in terms of its embedded carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Important features of the Registry:
  • Aggregates data into a comprehensive open-source database, drawing from government and private-sector sources
  • Includes both country-level and project level data
  • Integrates reserves, production, and emissions data with third-party scenarios to provide essential data for policymakers and others to make 1.5°C aligned production decisions;
  • Includes life-cycle emissions from fossil fuel projects for both carbon dioxide and methane
  • Contains data for over 50,000 fields in 89 countries representing projects covering 75% of global production.
  • Ranks countries based on absolute emissions and emissions intensities
  • Establishes an evolving database to serve as a trusted, policy-neutral tool to manage carbon budgets.
  • According to this inventory, burning of the world’s remaining fossil fuels would release 3.5 trillion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. This is seven times the remaining carbon budget to keep global temperature at 1.5 °C.
  • The United States and Russia have enough fossil fuel underground and untapped to exhaust the remaining carbon budget.

The earlier system

  • Until now there has been private data available for purchase, and analysis of the world’s fossil fuel usage and reserves.
  • The International Energy Agency also maintains public data on oil, gas and coal, but it focuses on the demand for those fossil fuels, whereas this new database looks at what is yet to be burned. 

Carbon budget:

  • Carbon budget refers to the remaining carbon the world can afford to emit before the 1.5°C temperature goal of the Paris Agreement is missed.
  • According to the estimates of the United Nations, the Earth’s remaining carbon budget is around 360 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent or nine years at the current emission levels.

Scientists in China create world’s first cloned wild Arctic wolf ‘Maya’

Context

A wild Arctic wolf was successfully cloned for the first time in the world by a Beijing-based gene firm. 

About
  • Cloned Arctic wolf is the first case of its kind in the world. It is named Maya.
  • The donor cell of the wolf came from the skin sample of a wild female Arctic wolf and its oocyte was taken from a female dog.
  • Maya’s surrogate mother was a beagle, a dog breed.
  • The dog was selected as the surrogate as it shares genetic ancestry with ancient wolves and hence, ensures success in cloning.

About Cloning:

  • The term cloning describes a number of different processes that can be used to produce genetically identical copies of a biological entity.
  • The copied material, which has the same genetic makeup as the original, is referred to as a clone.
  • Researchers have cloned a wide range of biological materials, including genes, cells, tissues and even entire organisms, such as a sheep.
  • Natural clones, also known as identical twins, occur in humans and other mammals.
    • These twins are produced when a fertilized egg splits, creating two or more embryos that carry almost identical DNA.
    • Identical twins have nearly the same genetic makeup as each other, but they are genetically different from either parent.
  • There are three different types of artificial cloning: gene cloning, reproductive cloning and therapeutic cloning.
    1. Gene cloning produces copies of genes or segments of DNA.
    2. Reproductive cloning produces copies of whole animals.
    3. Therapeutic cloning produces embryonic stem cells for experiments aimed at creating tissues to replace injured or diseased tissues.
  • Gene cloning, also known as DNA cloning, is a very different process from reproductive and therapeutic cloning. Reproductive and therapeutic cloning shares many of the same techniques, but is done for different purposes.

  • In 1996, Scottish scientists cloned the first animal, a sheep they named Dolly. She was cloned using an udder cell taken from an adult sheep. 

How are animals cloned?

  • In reproductive cloning, researchers remove a mature somatic cell, such as a skin cell, from an animal that they wish to copy.
  • They then transfer the DNA of the donor animal's somatic cell into an egg cell, or oocyte, that has had its own DNA-containing nucleus removed.
  • Researchers can add the DNA from the somatic cell to the empty egg in two different ways.
  • In the first method, they remove the DNA-containing nucleus of the somatic cell with a needle and inject it into the empty egg.
  • In the second approach, they use an electrical current to fuse the entire somatic cell with the empty egg.
  • In both processes, the egg is allowed to develop into an early-stage embryo in the test-tube and then is implanted into the womb of an adult female animal.
  • Ultimately, the adult female gives birth to an animal that has the same genetic makeup as the animal that donated the somatic cell.
  • This young animal is referred to as a clone. Reproductive cloning may require the use of a surrogate mother to allow development of the cloned embryo, as was the case for the most famous cloned organism, Dolly the sheep.

Shortage of anti-HIV drugs

Context

The Supreme Court has sought response from the Centre and others on a plea alleging shortage of anti-retroviral drugs for treating HIV patients in the country.

About
  • A plea was filed by NGO Indian Network for People living with HIV/AIDS alleging shortage of antiretroviral drugs in the country.
  • The plea contended that non-availability of drugs at the Anti-Retro Viral Therapy Centres of the National AIDS Control Organisation results in hampering ARV treatment of the people living with HIV/AIDS.

About HIV/AIDS:

  • HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks cells that help the body fight infection, making a person more vulnerable to other infections and diseases.
  • It is spread by contact with certain bodily fluids of a person with HIV, most commonly during unprotected sex (sex without a condom or HIV medicine to prevent or treat HIV), or through sharing injection drug equipment.
  • If left untreated, HIV can lead to the disease AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).
  • The human body can’t get rid of HIV and no effective HIV cure exists.
  • AIDS is the late stage of HIV infectionthat occurs when the body’s immune system is badly damaged because of the virus.

Antiretroviral Therapy

  • With neither a vaccine nor a cure in sight, Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) is the only option available for people living with HIV-AIDS.
  • HIV is a type of virus called a retrovirus, and the combination of drugs used to treat it is called Antiretroviral Therapy (ART).
  • According to the World Health Organization, standard ART consists of a combination of at least three antiretroviral drugs to suppress the HIV virus and stop the progression of the disease.
  • Significant reductions have been seen in rates of death and suffering by the use of potent ART regimen, particularly in the early stages of the disease.

National AIDS Control Organization

  • The National AIDS Control Programme (NACP), launched in 1992, is being implemented as a comprehensive programme for prevention and control of HIV/AIDS in India.
  • Over time, the focus has shifted from raising awareness to behaviour change, from a national response to a more decentralized response and to increasing involvement of NGOs.

UNAIDS

  • UNAIDS is working towards stopping new HIV infections, ensuring that everyone living with HIV has access to HIV treatment, protecting and promoting human rights and producing data for decision-making.
  • UNAIDS is working towards ensuring that, by 2020, 30 million people have access to treatment through meeting the 90–90–90 targets, whereby 90% of people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90% of people who know their HIV-positive status are accessing treatment and 90% of people on treatment have suppressed viral loads.

Lumpy Skin Disease

Context

The Mumbai Police have ordered the prohibition of cattle transportation in the city to prevent the spread of the lumpy skin disease.

  • The viral infection has killed nearly 75,000 cattle in India and spread to more than 10 States and UTs, hitting Rajasthan the worst.
About

Lumpy Skin Disease

  • Lumpy skin disease is caused by the lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV), which belongs to the genus capripox virus, a part of the poxviridae family (smallpox and monkeypox viruses are also a part of the same family).
  • The LSDV shares antigenic similarities with the sheeppox virus (SPPV) and the goatpox virus (GTPV) or is similar in the immune response to those viruses.
  • It is not a zoonotic virus, meaning the disease cannot spread to humans.
  • It is a contagious vector-borne disease spread by vectors like mosquitoes, some biting flies, and ticks and usually affects host animals like cows and water buffaloes. 
  • Symptoms:
    • LSD affects the lymph nodes of the infected animal, causing the nodes to enlarge and appear like lumps on the skin, which is where it derives its name from.
    • The cutaneous nodules, 2–5 cm in diameter, appear on the infected cattle’s head, neck, limbs, udder, genitalia, and perineum.
    • The nodules may later turn into ulcers and eventually develop scabs over the skin.
    • The other symptoms include high fever, sharp drop in milk yield, discharge from the eyes and nose, salivation, loss of appetite, depression, damaged hides, emaciation (thinness or weakness) of animals, infertility and abortions. 
  • Morbidity: The morbidity of the disease varies between two to 45% and mortality or rate of death is less than 10%, however, the reported mortality of the current outbreak in India is up to 15%, particularly in cases being reported in the western part (Rajasthan) of the country.

  • Geographical Distribution:
    • LSD is endemic to Africa and parts of West Asia, where it was first discovered in 1929.
    • In Southeast Asia the first case of LSD was reported in Bangladesh in July 2019.
    • In India it was first reported from Mayurbhanj, Odisha in August 2019.

Impact on economy

The infectious nature of LSD and its implications cause significant economic losses to farmers. Major reasons for the loss are as given below:

  • decreased milk production
  • abortions and infertility
  • damaged hides due to cutaneous nodules and fibrous tissue growth

Is it safe to consume the milk of affected cattle?

  • Studies say that it has not been possible to ascertain the presence of viable and infectious LSDV virus in milk derived from the infected animal.
  • However, FAO notes that a large portion of the milk in Asia is processed after collection and is either pasteurised or boiled or dried in order to make milk powder. This process ensures that the virus is inactivated or destroyed.

How bad is the current spread in India?

  • The current outbreak started in Gujarat and Rajashthan around July and had spread to Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Andaman & Nicobar and Uttarakhand by early August.
  • It then spread to Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.
  • In recent weeks, it was reported in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, and Jharkhand.
  • The virus has infected over 16 lakh cattle in 197 districts as of September 11.
  • Of the nearly 75,000 cattle that the disease has killed, more than 50,000 deaths, mostly cows, have been reported from Rajasthan.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Suggestions:

The FAO has suggested a set of spread-control measures for LSD, which involves

  • vaccination of susceptible populations with more than 80% coverage,
  • movement control of bovine animals and quarantining,
  • implementing biosecurity through vector control by sanitising sheds and spraying insecticides,
  • strengthening active and passive surveillance;
  • spreading awareness on risk mitigation among all stakeholders involved, and
  • creating large protection and surveillance zones and vaccination zones

Measures taken by India:

  • The ‘Goat Pox Vaccine’ is “very effective” against LSD and is being used across affected States to contain the spread.
  • As of the first week of September, 97 lakh doses of vaccination have been administered.
  • The affected States have put movement bans in place and are isolating infected cattle and buffaloes, spraying insecticides to kill vectors like mosquitoes.
  • Some affected States such as Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh also setting up dedicated control rooms and helpline numbers to guide farmers whose cattle have been infected.
  • In a major breakthrough, two institutes of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) have developed an indigenous vaccine for LSD, which the Centre plans to commercialise and roll out in the next three to four months.

The international day of peace

Context

The International Day of Peace is observed globally on September 21.

About
  • The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by the United Nations General Assembly.
  • Two decades later, in 2001, the General Assembly unanimously voted to designate the Day as a period of non-violence and cease-fire.
  • The UN General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire.
  • The United Nations invites all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities during the Day, and to otherwise commemorate the Day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.
  • 2022 Peace Day Theme: End Racism. Build Peace. 

What is the symbol of international peace day?

  • The Peace Bell was donated by the United Nations Association of Japan in 1954. It has become tradition to ring the bell twice a year: on the first day of spring, at the Vernal Equinox, and on 21 September to celebrate the International Day for Peace.

Editorial

Positioning India in a chaotic world

Context:

With newer political challenges, alongside old-fashioned geo-political risks hovering around, India needs that its foreign policy planners rewire the way they look at issues.

Changed meaning of non-alignment

  • India’s new version of non-alignment: India in the recent meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the SCO made it clear that it wants to steer an independent course, despite the open association with rival blocs. Example: Refusing to take sides in the Ukrainian conflict for months.
  • Nonalignment of the past: The earlier version of non-alignment has not yielded expected outcomes, and it's time now to look for new ways to fructify “multiple engagements of the future”.
  • “Multi-alignment’ and challenges: Although the west has appreciated India's participation in Quad (Australia, Japan, India, and the U.S.), it will be interesting to see how things develop under the threats of imposed sanctions if India continued trade relations with Iran.
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ThinkQ

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QUIZ - 21st September 2022

Mains Question:

Q1. “Live stocks are essential in creating sustainable and equitable food systems, however, they are being threatened with a spate of animal disease outbreaks”. Discuss the statement in light of recent cases of Lumpy Skin Disease, becoming a major emerging threat to livestock worldwide. (150 words)

Question Mapping

  • Subject: Economy (GS-III)
    • Sub-topic: Economic Sector

 Approach 

  • Introduction-brief about livestock sector and its relevance
    • pillar of the global food system
    • contributor to poverty reduction, food security, and agricultural development
  • Impact of disease outbreaks on economy (nuanced effects on markets, poverty, and livelihoods)
  • Challenges and knowledge gaps
    • Paucity of information
    • Complexity of disease dynamics
    • Multi-host disease systems
    • Joint occurrence of climate-sensitive diseases in common landscapes
    • Lack of epidemiology capacity
    • Required measures 
      • Improve disease surveillance and response
      • Improve animal health service delivery
      • Increase the resilience of livestock systems
      • Adopt breeding strategies
    • Conclude accordingly 

     

     

    *Give example of disastrous impact of Lumpy Skin Disease on cattle.

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