- France has issued its first “green bonds” with a record seven billion euro ($7.5 billion) sale, paving the way for the establishment of a genuine market in renewable energy bonds.
·Proceeds from the sale of the 22-year bonds will be used to finance projects to address climate change.
What are Green Bonds:
- Climate bonds (also known as green bonds) are fixed-income financial instruments linked with finding climate change solutions.
·Climate bonds are a relatively new asset class, but they are growing rapidly. The total volume of climate bonds was estimated at 160 billions of dollars on 2016; of which 70 billion were issued in 2016.
Difference between Climate Bond and Green Bonds:
- Though more or less similar, Climate bond is an extension of the green bond concept.
- Green bonds are issued in order to raise the finance for an environmental project.
- Climate bonds are issued to raise finance for investments in emission reduction or climate change adaptation.
World Heritage sites & human interference
- Most of the over 100 natural World Heritage sites that are being severely damaged by expanding human infrastructure and land use are in Asia, a new study has warned.
- India’s Manas Wildlife Sanctuary and Nepal’s Chitwan National Park are among the most impacted Natural World Heritage Sites (NWHS), the study, published in the journal Biological Conservation, identified.
- Natural World Heritage Sites (NWHS), via the formal process run by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation), are globally recognised as containing some of the Earth’s most valuable natural assets.
About Manas Wildlife Sanctuary:
- Manas National Parkor Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is a national park, UNESCO Natural World Heritage site, a Project Tiger reserve, an elephant reserve and a biosphere reserve in Assam, India.
- Located in the Himalayan foothills, it is contiguous with the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan.
- The park is known for its rare and endangered endemic wildlife such as the Assam roofed turtle, hispid hare, golden langur and pygmy hog.
- Manas is famous for its population of the wild water buffalo.
- The name of the park is originated from the Manas River, which is named after the serpent goddess Manasa.
The Manas river is a major tributary of Brahmaputra River, which passes through the heart of the national park.
West Bengal to give legal protection to Hilsa Fish:
West Bengal fisheries department has proposed to give legal protection to Hilsa Fish to
arrest its dwindling population. ·In this regard, fisheries department is coordinating with to the state home department to bring about provisions in CrPc and IPC.
·With the formal introduction of the provisions, Hilsa will become the first fish variety in the country to get legal protection.
- Anyone can be arrested or fined for selling, catching and buying small Hilsa (commonly called “khoka ilish” in Bengal).Small variety weighs less than 500gms and is called as juveniles.
·It is being predicted that saving even 1 per cent of these juveniles could enhance the Hilsa production by 4000 tonnes per year.
Scientists discover 163 new species in Greater Mekong region: WWF
- A rainbow-headed snake and a dragon-like lizard are among 163 new species that scientists recently discovered in the Greater Mekong region adding rapid development in the area, from dams to mines, was threatening wildlife survival.
- The discoveries, published in a report, include a gecko in Laos with pale blue skin and a rare banana species discovered in northern Thailand that is critically endangeredbecause of increasing deforestation.
- The Greater Mekong is home to some of the world’s most endangered species. Rare or endangered animal parts, including tiger bones and rhino horns, are seen as collector’s items by some and are often used in traditional medicine.
- In June, Thai wildlife authorities raided the Tiger Temple west of Bangkok, a popular tourist attraction. There they discovered scores of dead tiger cubs, frozen tiger carcasses, skins and dead cubs in jars, as well as other protected species.
- It remains unclear why the Tiger Temple was storing dead tiger cubs and parts, although officials have said they might have been used for traditional Chinese medicine.
- The new species discovered in the Greater Mekong region were a reminder that there is hope at a time when extinction rates are increasing at an alarming rate.
- “The Greater Mekong region keeps reminding us that there are many incredible, unexplored areas, leading to new discoveries happening every year and it is crucial that we protect them before they are lost.
- A 2016 report by WWF found that by 2020 global populations of fish, birds, amphibians, mammals and reptiles could have declined by two-thirds in just 50 years.
- The Greater Mekong is a global hub for illegal wildlife trade.
- “Many collectors are willing to pay thousands of dollars or more for the rarest, most unique and most endangered species, often buying them at the region’s illegal wildlife markets.
“To save them, it’s crucial that we improve enforcement against poaching and close illegal wildlife markets.”
World heat shatters records in 2016 in new sign of global warming
- Last year was the hottest on record by a wide margin, with temperatures creeping close to a ceiling set by almost 200 nations for limitingglobal warming, the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service said on Thursday.
- The data are the first of the New Year to confirm many projections that 2016 will exceed 2015 as the warmest since reliable records began in the 19th century, it said in a report.
- TheArctic was the region showing the sharpest rise in temperatures, while many other areas of the globe, including parts of Africa and Asia, also suffered unusual heat, it said.
- A few parts of South America andAntarctica were cooler than normal.
- Global surface temperatures in 2016 averaged 14.8 degrees Celsius (58.64°F), or 1.3C (2.3F) higher than estimated before the Industrial Revolution ushered in wide use of fossil fuels, the EU body said.
- In 2015, almost 200 nations agreed at a summit in Paris to limit global warming to “well below” 2C above pre-industrial times while pursuing efforts to hold the rise to 1.5C as part of a sweeping shift away from fossil fuels towards clean energy.
- Temperatures last year broke a 2015 record by almost 0.2C (0.36F), Copernicus said, boosted by a build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and by a natural El Nino weather event in the Pacific Ocean, which releases heat to the atmosphere.
- In February 2016 alone, temperatures were 1.5C above pre-industrial times, the study said. Rising heat is blamed for stoking wildfires, heat waves, droughts, floods and more powerful downpours that disrupt water and food supplies.
- The UN’sWorld Meteorological Organization (WMO), the main authority on global temperatures, compiles data mainly from two US and one British dataset that will be published in coming weeks. It also uses input from Copernicus.
2016 was warmest year on record: Study
- 2016 was the warmest year on record, with global average temperature 0.2 degrees celsius higher than 2015, the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) has confirmed.
- This is the first of a series of announcements by various climate agencies including NASA and the World Meteorological Organisationthat will come next week.
- What is alarming about the latest data is that it puts global warming at about 1.3 degrees C higher than the mid-18th century which is considered as the pre-industrial baseline.
- The Paris Accord of 2015 had agreed on holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2?°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5?°C above pre-industrial levels.
- The latest data shows that the planet is already at the brink of crossing the 1.5 degrees C red line.
- C3S also found that 2016 was the first year CO2 levels did not return below 400 ppm as summer turned to autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. In previous years, take-up of CO2 by vegetation during the summer growing season has typically seen September mark the lowest point for CO2 levels.
- Copernicus is the European Commission’s flagship earth observation programme that delivers freely accessible operational data and information services.
- Copernicus temperature data are based on millions of diverse daily measurements analysed by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) using methods developed for weather forecasting.
- Global warming increases the likelihood of extreme weather events such as heatwaves, droughts and floods. Future warming could cause billions of euro of damage each year and affect the availability of fresh water and crop yields in the most vulnerable countries.
- “We are already seeing around the globe the impacts of a changing climate.
- Land and sea temperatures are rising along with sea-levels, while the world’s sea-ice extent, glacier volume and snow cover are decreasing; rainfall patterns are changing and climate-related extremes such as heatwaves, floods and droughts are increasing in frequency and intensity for many regions.
- The future impact of climate change will depend on the effort we make now, in part achieved by better sharing of climate knowledge and information.
C3S-Copernicus Climate Change Service
- C3S found that global temperatures in February 2016 already touched the 1.5°C
- limit, though under the influence of a strong El Nino, an intermittent event involving a period of warming.
- Global temperatures still remained well above average in the second half of 2016, associated partly with exceptionally low sea-ice cover in both the Arctic and Antarctic.
- C3S found that most regions around the world experienced above-average temperatures during 2016.
- The largest differences in regional average temperatures were found in the Arctic but conditions were also extreme over southern Africa early in the year, over southern and south-eastern Asia prior to the summer monsoon, over the Middle East later in summer, and over parts of North America in summer and autumn.
- In addition to record temperatures, ECMWF’s Copernicus Services monitored other extremes occurring in 2016, including significant global wildfires and the growth of CO2 in the atmosphere.
- Destructive fires were observed around Fort McMurray, Canada in May and then extensive wildfires across Siberia, associated with the year’s high surface temperatures, during June and July.
Huge Antarctic ice block set to break off: Scientists:
- A massive ice block nearly 100 times the area of Manhattan is poised to break off Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf, scientists reported. The fragile West Antarctic ice sheet — where Larsen C is located — holds enough frozen water to raise global oceans by at least four metres (13 feet).
- Recent studies have suggested that climate change may already have condemned large chunks of it to disintegration, though whether on a time scale of centuries or millennia is not known.
- The breaking off, or calving, of ice shelves is a natural process, but global warming is thought to have accelerated the process.
- Warming ocean water erodes their underbelly, while rising air temperatures weaken them from above. The nearby Larsen A ice shelf collapsed in 1995, and Larsen B dramatically broke up seven years later.
- The ice block currently separating from Larsen C contains about 10 percent of its mass, and would be among the 10 largest break-offs ever recorded.
- If all the ice held back by Larsen C entered the sea, it would lift global oceans by about 10 centimetres (four inches).
- “We are convinced — although others are not — that the remaining ice shelf will be less stable than the present one,” Oceans in recent decades have absorbed much of the excess heat generated by climate change, which has lifted average global air temperatures by one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit).
- The world’s nations have undertaken in the Paris Agreement, inked in the French capital in December 2015, to cap global warming at “well under” two degrees Celsius (3.5 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial era levels.
About: Larsen C:
- The Larsen Ice Shelfis a long, fringing ice shelf in the northwest part of the Weddell Sea, extending along the east coast of the Antarctic Peninsula from Cape Longing to the area just southward of Hearst Island.
- It is named for Captain Carl Anton Larsen, the master of the Norwegian whaling vessel Jason, who sailed along the ice front as far as 68°10′ South during December 1893.
- In finer detail, the Larsen Ice Shelf is a series of shelves that occupy (or occupied) distinct embayments along the coast.
- From north to south, the segments are called Larsen A (the smallest), Larsen B, and Larsen C (the largest) by researchers who work in the area.
Further south, Larsen D and the much smaller Larsen E, F and G are also named.
Sea-surface temps during last interglacial period like modern temps
Sea-surface temperatures during the last interglaciation period were like those of today, a new study reports. The trend is worrisome, as sea levels during the last interglacial period were between six and nine meters above their present height.
- Interglaciation is the term used by geologists to refer to the alternating periods of warming and cooling in the earth’s past.
- The cooler times are called the “glacial period” during which ice shelves from the Arctic slowly creep southward and spread across the earth.
- Times when the earth is covered in these large ice sheets are known as glacial periods (or ice ages).
- When the ice sheets are not spread, it is called an interglacial period.
- The most recent glacial period occurred between about 120,000 and 11,500 years ago.
Since then, the earth has been in an interglacial period called the Holocene.
Shailesh Nayak Committee on the Coastal Regulation Zone
- The Report of the Committee to Review the Issues relating to the Coastal Regulation Zone, 2011 was submitted to the government.
- Shailesh Nayak Committee has recently relaxed norms under coastal regulation zones.
- It has proposed for allowing housing infrastructure and slum redevelopment activities, tourism, ports and harbor and fisheries-related activities in coastal regulation zone.
- On development and construction, the report recommends that all activities except those requiring environmental clearances should fall under the ambit of the state and local planning bodies instead of being regulated by central policy.
- The areas affected by this amendment would be coastal towns, rural areas and waters up to 12 nautical miles from the coast.
- For rural areas with a population density of over 2,161 persons/sq km, the committee has recommended that the “no-development buffer zone” be limited to 50m from the High Tide Line (HTL).
- For other areas, the buffer has been recommended at 200m from the HTL.
- This HTL, though has not been determined for the country’s coastline yet and is currently being put together by the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management.
- The report has also called for allowing reclamation of lands for specific infrastructure such as ports, bridges and fisheries-related structures for the “larger public interest”.
- The recommendations make a case for allowing temporary tourist facilities in no-development zones in coastal areas as well as permanent structures on the landward sides of national/state highways when these pass through these zones.
- Further, especially considering the plea from the government of Maharashtra, the panel has suggested that urban planning rules prepared by local authorities be prioritised for slum development and rehabilitation instead of the 2011 regulations which were deemed restrictive by states.
- States would also be able to decide the Floor Area Ratio for construction activity in coastal areas if the recommendations are implemented.
The committee has suggested that the central government’s role in coastal areas be limited to environmental clearances and regulating environmentally-sensitive areas.
Primates facing extinction crisis: Study
A new international study warns that about 60 per cent of more than 500 primate species are threatened with extinction. It also claimed that three out of four primate species have shrinking populations. The study was recently published in the journal Science Advances.
Key highlights of the study
- The decline in the population of the primate species has been blamed on human activities including hunting, mining and oil drilling.
- Logging and wood harvesting, ranching and farming have also contributed in destroying the habitat in Africa, Asia and South America.
- Globally, agriculture is the principal threat to the primates. However, secondary threats vary by region. For instance, livestock farming and ranching negatively affect 59 per cent of primate species in the Neotropics.
- On the other hand, long-term deforestation has resulted in the destruction of 58 per cent of subtropical and 46 per cent of tropical forests forcing primates to live in isolated forest patches. This, in turn, has led to population restructuring, loss of genetic diversity and decreasing numbers.
- The study claims that much of the problems faced by primates are recent. For instance, the Grauer’s gorilla dropped from a population of about 17000 in 1995 to just about 3800 now, mostly from bushmeat hunting and mineral mining.
- There are only around 14000 Sumatran orangutans left in the world.
- Population of the Hainan gibbon in China has dropped to just 25 individuals. 22 out of the 26 primate species in China are endangered.
- The study also reports that climate change may compel individuals to move out of protected areas, making them more vulnerable to hunting and other anthropogenic impacts.
- The report also stated that about 94 per cent of the lemur species in the world are endangered, especially in Madagascar.
- A primate is a mammal of the order Primates. In taxonomy, primates include two distinct lineages, strepsirrhines and haplorhines.
- Primates arose from ancestors that lived in the trees of tropical forests; many primate characteristics represent adaptations to life in this challenging three-dimensional environment. Most primate species remain at least partly arboreal.
- Most primates live in tropical or subtropical regions of the Americas, Africa and Asia. They range in size from Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur, which weighs only 30 g (1 oz), to the eastern gorilla, weighing over 200 kg (440 lb); that is, without taking into account the weight of particular human individuals, reaching up to 635 kg.
- Primates are characterized by large brains relative to other mammals, as well as an increased reliance onstereoscopic vision at the expense of smell, the dominant sensory system in most mammals. These features are more developed in monkeys and apes and noticeably less so in lorises and lemurs.
- The earliest known true primates, represented by the genus Teilhardina, date to 55.8 million years old. An early close primate relative known from abundant remains is the Late Paleocene Plesiadapis, c. 55–58 million years old.
The order Primates was traditionally divided into two main groupings: prosimians and anthropoids (simians). Prosimians have characteristics more like those of the earliest primates, and include the lemurs of Madagascar, lorisoids, and tarsiers. Simians include monkeys, apes and hominins.
- The National Green Tribunal imposed an interim nationwide ban on use of glass-coated ‘manja’ for flying kites as the sharp string poses a danger to humans, animals and birds.
- A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Swatanter Kumar passed the order after noting that ‘manja’, string coated with glass and metal powderand used for flying kites, poses a threat to the environment.
- The green panel said that the ban order would apply on nylon, Chinese and cotton manja coated with glass.
- It directed Manja Association of India to submit report to Central Pollution Control Board on harmful effects of kite strings.
- November 2015 order of the Allahabad High Court banned the use of Chinese manja in entire Uttar Pradesh.
- Also ‘manja’ posed a huge threat when it came into contact with live overhead electric wires, leading to grid failure.
- Due to ‘manja’ being coated with glass, metals and other sharp material, these strings act as good conductors of electricity, increasing the probability of detached manja strings stuck in power lines, electrocuting kite flyers and passers-by coming into contact with these strings.
PETA also said that minor children were engaged by the cottage industry for the manufacture of ‘manja’ which caused respiratory problems as they inhaled harmful substances which were extremely detrimental to their health.
- Scientists of the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) have found a new species of Zingiber (commonly referred as Ginger) from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- The species Zingiber pseudosquarrosum, new to science, belonging to genus Zingiber.
- It was already used by the local Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups ( PVTGs) of the Andamans for its medicinal values.
- The fresh extract [juice] of fleshy tuberous roots is used to treat abdominal pain and anti-helminthic troubles by Nicobarese and certain other tribal communities.
- This pseudo stem of the new species is predominantly red in colour.
- Flowers have a vermilion tinge and dehisced fruit [fully mature fruits] are lotus shaped.
- Inflorescence buds are urceolate in shape.
- The species has got tuberous root.
- The morphological features of this species makes it distinct from other species belonging to the genus Zingiber.
- Like other species of Gingers, this new species is edible and can be propagated vegetatively from the rhizome.
The planted rhizomes were successfully vegetatively propagated at the BSI garden at Port Blair after transplantation.
Montane laughing thrushes are endemic to the Western Ghats
- Montane laughing thrushes are endemic to the Western Ghats.
- BirdLife International, an organisation which assesses the conservation status of birds globally, has split the group of montane laughingthrushes and recognised them as two new species.
- As a result, Kerala now has four mountain laughing thrushes in place of two.
- The newly accepted species are Banasura laughing thrush (Trochalopteron jerdoni), which has a very restricted distribution in Wayanad district and Travancore laughing thrush (Trochalopteron merdionale) found in Thiruvananthapuram district.
- The conservation status of the Banasura species was assessed as endangered.
- The Travancore variety was considered vulnerable, considering the risk both the species were facing.
- The two original species of the family were Nilgiri laughing thrush and Palani laughing thrush.
- The Nilgiri species, assessed as an endangered one, is found in Silent Valley National Park and Siruvani hills of Kerala.
- The near-threatened Palani laughing thrush is found mainly in Munnar hills and the mountains of Periyar Tiger Reserve apart from Grass Hills and Palani hills in Tamil Nadu.
- Laughing thrushes are found only in the peaks of Western Ghats, popularly known as sky islands.
- These mountain peaks are separated from the others so well that the birds from one Sky Island find difficult to move to the next sky island.
- This has resulted in the creation of four closely related species, each of them occupying a series of mountain tops across the entire range of southern Western Ghats.
About Bird Life International:
- Bird Life International(formerly the International Council for Bird Preservation) is a global partnership of conservation organisations that strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources.
- It is the world’s largest partnership of conservation organisations, with over 120 partner organisations.
Bird Life International is the official Red List authority for birds, for the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Striped Hyenas bred at Visakhapatnam Zoo:
- Indira Gandhi Zoological Park in Visakhapatnam is the third zoo in the country to have successfully recorded captive
breeding of hyenas.
- The striped hyena is a species of hyena native to North and East Africa, the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Indian
- It is listed by the IUCN as near-threatened.
- Though primarily a scavenger, large specimens have been known to kill their own prey and striped hyenas is the smallest
of the true hyenas.
The striped hyena is a monogamous animal i.e the state of having only one mate at any one time and it is nocturnal i.e emerges only in darkness.