Trivia Thursday: Major Environmental Movements in India

Trivia Thursday: Major Environmental Movements in India

Hi Folks, today on April 22nd, we are celebrating the 51st Earth Day! To mark this event, in this week’s Trivia Thursday, let’s have a look on a few prominent environmental movements that took place in India.

Crux of the Matter

In this week’s Trivia Thursday, let us have a look at some major environmental movements that happened in India:

Chipko Movement
Started in 1973 in Uttarakhand, Chipko movement was a forest conservation movement in India. The word ‘chipko’ means “to cling to” and refers to the rural villagers, mostly women hugging trees as a mark to protect them from loggers.

Silent Valley Movement
Silent Valley is an evergreen tropical forest in the Palakkad district of Kerala. In 1973, a plan to build a hydroelectric project on the Kunthipuzha River would have flooded the rainforest. Kerala Sastra Sahithya Parishad (KSSP) and other NGOs started a social movement called Save Silent Valley. The rainforest was declared as Silent Valley National Park in 1985.

Bishnoi Movement 
Bishnoi is a Hindu religious sect found in the Western Thar Desert and northern states of India. They follow a set of 29 principles/commandments given by Guru Jambeshwar. These include a ban on killing animals and felling green trees, and providing protection to all life forms. 

Appiko Movement 
The famous Chipko Andolan of Uttarakhand in the Himalayas inspired the villagers of the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka Province in southern India to launch a similar movement to save their forests. In September 1983, men, women and children of Salkani “hugged the trees” in Kalase forest. (The local term for “hugging” in Kannada is appiko.) Appiko Andolan gave birth to a new awareness all over southern India.

Narmada Bachao Andolan 
Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) is a social movement spearheaded by native tribes (adivasis), farmers, environmentalists and human rights activists against a number of large dam projects across the Narmada River. The NBA, with its leading spokespersons Medha Patkar and Baba Amte, received the Right Livelihood Award in 1991.

Take a look at our last week’s Trivia Thursday here: Trivia Thursday: 7 Wonders Of The World

Why Are Researchers Worried About Disappearing Bee Species?

Why Are Researchers Worried About Disappearing Bee Species?

Eduardo and Marcelo, researchers at the National University of Comahue in Argentina, have found that there were fewer bee species reported between the period of 2006 and 2015, as compared to the ones before 1990. Let’s find out the reason for their disappearance and how this subsequently can impact the environment.

Crux of the Matter

Declining bee numbers
Despite the increasing number of bee specimen records, the worldwide number of recorded bee species is decreasing. This decline is alarming, as even the bee record numbers in this database have increased by 55% since 2000.

What Does This Mean?
Even if this doesn’t mean that unrecorded bee species are extinct, but they are rare enough for not being encountered by people. Eg: Rarer Melittidae family of 200 bee species have fallen by 41% since the 1990s and by 17% for the Halictidae family.

How Did They Obtain These Figures?
By analysis of wild bee species observed each year via Global Biodiversity Information Facility – a publicly available platform where both citizens and researchers can record sightings of bee species.

Why Is This Alarming?
Wild and managed bees are key pollinators, enhancing the yield of ∼85% of cultivated crops, globally. As per a 2016 international study, the annual global production of food that depends directly on pollination is worth between $235- $577 billion.

Advantages Of Bees

Act as specialists
Bees have different characteristics that make them suited to pollinate certain plants.  Eg: Early bumblebee’s small size allows it to enter plants like comfrey while Garden bumblebees are better at pollinating honeysuckle due to their long tongues.

Maintain food security
Bees provide high-quality food like honey and royal jelly. They also help in products used in healthcare and other sectors like beeswax, propolis etc.

Biodiversity Preservation
Bees act as indicators of the state of the environment i.e their presence, absence or quantity tells us when something is happening in nature that needs rectification.

Free service
In the UK itself, services of pollinators like bees in terms of the value of the crops they pollinate, are worth £691m a year. This would cost £1.8bn a year for employing people, to do the same.

Read in detail why the murder hornets were on a bee-killing spree here.

  • Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is an abnormal phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a honey bee colony disappear, leaving behind a queen, plenty of food, and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees. Colony collapse disorder could cause significant economic losses because many agricultural crops worldwide depend on pollination by western honey bees.
  • According to the Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the total value of global crops pollinated by honey bees was estimated at nearly US$200 billion in 2005. In the United States, shortages of bees have increased the cost to farmers renting them for pollination services by up to 20%.
  • Varroa destructor (Varroa mite) is an external parasitic mite that attacks and feeds on the honey bees Apis cerana and Apis mellifera. The disease caused by the mites is called varroosis. The Varroa mite can reproduce only in a honey bee colony. The Varroa mite is the parasite with possibly the most pronounced economic impact on the beekeeping industry. Varroa is considered to be one of the multiple stress factors contributing to the higher levels of bee losses around the world.

Can Apple Remove 450,000 Cars From Road From This Year?

Can Apple Remove 450,000 Cars From Road From This Year?

As per official statement by the tech giant this week, the new Apple iPhone 12 lineup will ship without wall chargers or Lightning EarPods in the box. Let’s see how this will help in cutting carbon emissions released via cars on roads.

Crux of the Matter

How Will They Do It?
By discontinuing the wall charger and lightning EarPods for the new iPhone 12 series. In fact, Apple Watch Series 3 and 6, SE edition and the Nike models will also remove power adapter from their boxes.

Will This Be Applicable For Older Models?
Yes. On Apple’s official site, listings for the iPhone XR, iPhone 11, and 2020 iPhone SE now say that they ship an Iphone with the only accessory being the USB-C to Lightning cable in the box.

Will This Affect Apple Users?
Not so much. It is estimated that there are already 700 million Lightning Earpods and 2 billion Apple power adapters, with existing Apple fans in the world.

How Is This A ‘Green’ Move?
The move means it has to consume fewer raw materials for each iPhone sold as it allows for a smaller retail box i.e 70% more units can fit on a single shipping pallet. Overall, Apple estimates the changes will cut over 2 million metric tons of carbon emissions annually, which is equivalent of removing 450,000 cars from the road per year.

What Do The Tech Experts Say?
The move has been met with outrage online, with some suggesting that it has more to do with the company increasing its margins and decreasing its shipping costs, rather than protecting the environment. Venture Capitalist M.G. Siegler says,

“Here’s the breakdown of why Apple is doing this, in the order of importance, as I see it:
1) Margins: The next iPhone’s margins, with ‘5G’ components, and the ongoing Covid-19, will alter the supply chain immensely. The charger may not seem like a huge margin savings, but it adds up in aggregate.
2) Shipping: Apple can make these boxes more svelte, they’ll pack more in.
3) Transitions: Make customers ready for the wireless charging revolution.
4) Environment: This is on the list. But it’s the last item on the list.”

Plans To Continue Being The Richest?
In the second half of 2020, Apple had hit the $2 trillion market cap and became the world’s most valuable company by surpassing Saudi Aramco’s $1.78 tn market cap. Apple also became the first US public traded company to have a $2 trillion market cap. It’s valuation doubled in just 2 years.

Also Read: On Apple’s Tax Case & Tax Havens Of The World

One Mobile Charger For All
Since the year 2009, the European Commission has been trying to convince tech companies to adopt a common charging method for smartphones, to reduce the waste that comes with every new gadget. So in 2018, Apple, Google, Lenovo, LG, Motorola, Samsung and Sony all voluntarily agreed to standardize on some form of USB-C charging by 2021.

Read More: Apple iPhone 12: Most Powerful Phone Yet?

  • If you check Apple’s site right now, the time set on every device will be 9:41. This is so because the first iPhone was unveiled at 9:41 and since then, every apple advertisement shows 9:41 as time on all of its devices.
  • After the release of iPhone X, Samsung released a series of short advertisements under the marketing campaign ‘ingenious’. The campaign was simply made to mock Apple and the sales representatives at Apple retail stores, whom Apple calls “Geniuses”.
  • Apple Park is the corporate headquarters of Apple Inc., located in Cupertino, California, United States. Its scale and circular groundscraper design, by Norman Foster, have earned the structure a media nickname “the spaceship”.

Earth Is Having An Ice Meltdown

Earth Is Having An Ice Meltdown

As per a review paper published in the journal Cryosphere Discussions, Earth has lost 28 trillion tons of ice in a period of 23 years (1994-2017). Why is this shocking rise happening? What does it mean for us in times ahead?

Crux of the Matter

28 Trillions Lost In Just 23 Years?
Scientists from the University College London analysed satellite surveys of glaciers, mountains, and ice sheets to conclude that 532 trillion litres of water has been added to the already rising sea levels during this time.

Techniques Used To Measure

  • Tide Gauges are a part of a modern water level monitoring station, and are fitted with sensors that continuously record the height of the surrounding water level.
  • Satellite Altimetry measures mostly an accurate change in sea level, in the center of the oceans relative to the earth’s center of mass. It can also observe the land movements from space.

Greenland Reaches It’s Tipping Point
The findings come after the researchers at Ohio State University discovered that the world’s second largest ice body, Greenland’s ice sheet, would continue to lose ice even if global temperatures stop rising.

Greenland’s ice is already the world’s single-most largest contributor to sea-level rise. With its current melt rate, it would add another 2.75 inches to global sea levels in another 80 years. Complete melting is estimated to be around the year 3000, leading to a rise of 23 feet sea levels.

Rising Global Temperatures To Blame?

The ice that’s discharging into the ocean surpasses the snow that’s accumulating on the surface of the ice sheet.

Michalea King, lead author & researcher at Byrd Polar & Climate Research Centre

According to NASA, 2010-2019 was the hottest decade ever recorded. In 2019, Greenland blocking, a high pressure over Canada that changes the northern jet stream, caused warm southern air to come up from the US and Canada to Greenland, forcing more melting.

Tectonic Shifts Play A Role Too
Local sea level rise varies by region and is mainly cause by local vertical land movements due to plate tectonics.

These tectonics are the large-scale motion of 7 large plates and the movements of a larger number of smaller plates of Earth’s lithosphere comprising of crust, mantle and core. In areas where the land is sinking, regional sea level rise will be greater, and in regions where the land is rising, sea level rise will be less severe.

Major Consequences To Look Out For
1. Increased water in coastal areas, causing soil erosion and threatening farmland, housing, or recreation areas. This shall affect the flora and fauna of each place.

2. Heavier rains and strong winds, that unleash severe storms and typhoons amongst other atmospheric phenomena threatening a loss of habitat.

3. Communities in low-lying islands would be forced to be displaced and large lands would start disappearing eventually.

A Hole In Ozone Layer Above Both Poles?
Ozone layer is a region of the stratosphere that absorbs most of the Sun’s harmful UV radiation and acts as a shield for us back on Earth.

In 1976, atmospheric research revealed that the ozone layer above the Arctic was being depleted by chemicals like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) used in industrial solvents and refrigerants, leading to ecological problems and diseases like skin cancer.

Now another hole has opened up in the ozone layer above Antarctica, making both the poles in danger of climate change. A stratospheric polar vortex, a band of strong, frigid winds circling the pole chewed away at the ozone layer.

Another Treaty Needed?
After the first hole, the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of such substances responsible for ozone depletion, was signed by 197 countries in 1987.

It got 9 revisions since then. UN also designated September 16 as the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer.

  • Pancake ice is a form of sea ice that consists of round pieces of ice with diameters ranging from 30 centimetres to 3 metres, depending on the local conditions. It is usually created by breaking ice rinds, nilas or even gray ice in the agitated conditions.
  • An aurora is a natural light display in the Earth’s sky, predominantly seen in high-latitude regions (around the Arctic and Antarctic). Auroras are the result of disturbances in the magnetosphere caused by solar wind.
  • In physical geography, tundra is a type of biome where the tree growth is hindered by low temperatures and short growing seasons. The term tundra comes from the Russian word for “treeless mountain tract”. There are three regions and associated types of tundra: Arctic tundra, alpine tundra and Antarctic tundra.

EIA 2020: Changes And Controversy

EIA 2020: Changes And Controversy

The recent Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Draft Notification 2020 issued by the Indian government is seeking to modify public participation and the importance of environmental clearance in project.

Crux of the Matter

EIA 2020
The Delhi High Court recently extended the deadline for feedback for the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2020 to 11 August. The move came after the Central government extended the deadline from 10 June to 30 June, with the Court intervening after protests from activists.

What Is EIA?
The EIA was formulated in 1994 after the formation of the Environment (Protection) Act (EPA) of 1986 to regulate activities that “access, utilise, and affect natural resources”. It assesses the impact of activities like coal mining, industrial development, etc. on the environment, with the EIA clearance being compulsory before the initiation of any development project. It was first modified in 2006, with the next modification proposed in 2020.

So What’s New?

  • Post-facto clearance: Several projects operating in violation of the Environment (Protection) Act (EPA) would now be eligible for clearance application. The provision would be applicable only for solar thermal plants, digging of wells for drinking or irrigation, paper manufacturing from waste paper (or without bleaching), and other non-mining activities.
  • “Cognizance of the violation”: Recognition of the violation would now be done only the “project proponent” or the government authorities.
  • Cases of violation could now be possibly dealt with by levying 1.5-2 times “the ecological damage assessed and economic benefit derived due to violation”.
  • “Inland waterways projects” and “expansion or widening of national highways” now exempted from prior clearance.
  • Projects concerning national defence development, highway expansion, modernisation of irrigation systems, projects under notified industrial areas, etc. now exempted from public consultation (it is feedback from local people and people having “stake in the environmental impact of the project”).
  • Linear projects concerning roads and pipelines in border areas (area within 100 kms aerial distance from LAC) would also be exempted from public consultation.
  • The maximum limit of 30 days for public feedback applications now reduced to 20 days.

Background And Rulings
The EIA 2020 aimed to implement the 2014 ruling of the Jharkhand High Court, which stated that the “proposal for Environment Clearance must be examined on its merits, independent of any proposed action for alleged violation of the environmental laws”. The modification is also driven by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) recently asking the Central government to “strengthen the monitoring mechanism for compliance of conditions of Prior Environment Clearance”.

Controversy And Impact

  • Violations can now be reported only by the “project proponent” or the government authorities.
  • Reduction of public response time from 30 days to 20 days cited as “weakening” of public participation.
  • Mass deforestation due to highway expansion would now be possibly unchecked as the project would be exempted from public consultation.
  • Several projects are already operating in the violation under the existing laws. Post-facto laws are expected to further diminish the adherence to laws.
  • As linear projects (roads, pipelines, etc) near the border areas are exempted from the public consultation, experts have shown apprehension over the biodiversity-rich areas of North-East.
  • Experts have claimed the draft as going against the recent statement of the Supreme Court of India, which stated on 1st April that “environment law cannot countenance the notion of an ex post facto clearance… which would be contrary to both the precautionary principle as well as the need for sustainable development”.

Recent Examples Of Mishap

  • Oil India Limited obtained the clearance to dig 7 wells inside the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, Assam for gas extraction. The clearance was acquired a few days before the Baghjan oil leak in Assam, which killed several dolphins and other endangered animals.
  • The Vizag gas leak in May, which killed 11 people, occurred in the LG Polymers plant, which had been operating without the Environmental Clearance and was held guilty of the leakage.
  • Team Trees was a collaborative fundraiser that managed to raise 20 million U.S. dollars before 2020 to plant 20 million trees. The initiative was started by American YouTubers MrBeast and Mark Rober, and was supported by personalities like Jack Dorsey, Elon Musk, Marc Benioff, Susan Wojcicki, and many others.
  • Life cycle assessment is a methodology for assessing environmental impacts associated with all the stages of the life-cycle of a commercial product, process, or service. The goal of LCA is to compare the full range of environmental effects assignable to products and services by quantifying all inputs and outputs of material flows and assessing how these material flows affect the environment.
  • The Leopold matrix is a qualitative environmental impact assessment method pioneered in 1971. It is used to identify the potential impact of a project on the environment. The system consists of a matrix with rows representing the various activities of the project, and columns representing the various environmental factors to be considered.