News: NASA and US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists have reported that the annual ozone hole over the Antarctic has been found to be at its smallest since the 1980s
- Ozone layer, also called ozonosphere is a layer in the stratosphere lying between roughly 15 and 35 km above Earth’s surface, containing relatively high concentrations of ozone molecules (O3).
- By absorbing the harmful ultraviolet radiations from the sun, the ozone molecules protect earth from harmful UV rays which can cause skin cancer and other diseases and deformities, in plants and animals
- It is a region in the stratosphere, directly above Antarctica, where the concentration of ozone has been measured to become extremely low in certain months.
- During experiments in Antarctica in the early 1980s, scientists noticed that during September-November, the concentration of ozone fell considerably lower to what was recorded in the 1950s.
- Studies and satellite measurements confirmed the depletion, and by mid-1980s scientists held a class of industrial chemicals like chloroflurocarbons, or CFCs responsible for depletion of ozone.
- On September 16, 1987, the United Nations and 45 other countries had signed the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the Ozone layer.
- The purpose of the Montreal Protocol is to protect the Ozone layer by reducing the production of substances that are supposed to be responsible for Ozone layer depletion.
- The protocol was further strengthened with the ratification of the legally binding Kigali Agreement at the 28th Meeting of the Parties in 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda. It seeks to phase out the production of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that are potent greenhouse gases by the late 2040s.
News: The National Crime Records Bureau has released the Accidental Death and Suicide report for 2016
Suicides in India
- In 2016, a decline was observed in the all-India rate of suicide (per lakh of population) from 10.6 in 2015 to 10.3 in 2016.
- The suicide rate in cities in 2016 was 13.0 as compared to the all-India suicide rate of 10.3 (per lakh of population).
- Major causes of suicides were family problems (not related to marriage) (29.2%) and illness (17.1%), marriage related issues (5.3%) and drug-abuse and alcoholic addiction (4.0%).
- The number of farmer suicides in the country has plunged to 11,379 in 2016 from 12,360 in 2014 and 12,602 in 2015. This translates into 948 suicides every month, or 31 suicides every day in 2016
- Maharashtra witnessed a 20% dip from the previous year, however, it continued to be the top state with 2,550 of the 6,270 farmers’ suicides documented nationwide. Karnataka saw the second highest number of farmer suicides in 2016 at 2,079.
- While farmer suicides have dipped by about 21%, those by farm labourers have risen by 10%.
- A majority of the farmers who died by suicide in India were men while women accounted for only 8.6% of farmer suicides in the country.
Note: in 2016 edition, NCRB has not mentioned the reasons for the farmer suicides.
Accidental Deaths in India
- A total of 8,684 deaths in the country occurred due to causes attributable to forces of nature during the year 2016. 38.2% deaths due to ‘Lightning’, 15.4% deaths due to ‘Heat and Sun Stroke’ and 8.9 % deaths due to ‘flood’ were reported during the year 2016.
- A total of 4, 09,537 persons died in accidental deaths due to ‘other causes’ (not attributable to nature) during 2016.
- The major causes of accidental deaths were traffic accidents (43.4%), sudden deaths (10.2%), drowning (7.3%), poisoning (5.6%), falls (4.2%) and accidental fire (4.1%).
- The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) is an attached office of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
- The agency is responsible for collecting and analysing crime data as defined by the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Special and Local Laws (SLL).
News: New Zealand has passed a ‘zero carbon’ law
- The Zero Carbon law aims to tackle climate change by setting a net-zero target for almost all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
- The reduction target will have two separate plans. One for biogenic methane, or that which is produced by living organisms, and another for all other greenhouse gases.
- It also establishes an independent Climate Change Commission to advise the government on how to achieve its targets and to produce “carbon budgets” every five years informing how many emissions will be allowed in that period.
- Methane from animals will carry more lax requirements. However, it still aims to cut 10% of biological methane by 2030, and up to 47% by 2050.
- The law is a part of New Zealand’s efforts to meet its Paris climate accord commitments.
About Paris Climate Change Agreement
- The Paris Agreement was adopted at the UNFCC COP21 held in Paris in 2015. 195 UNFCCC members have signed the agreement, and 187 have become party to it
- Aim: It aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change and specifies long-term goals regarding global average temperatures, adaptation to climate change and finance flows
- Temperature: hold warming below 2°C above pre-industrial levels with effective efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C
- Adaptation: Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development
- Low Emission Finance flows: Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development
News: According to the researchers at the University of Iowa in the US, Voyager 2 has entered the interstellar medium (ISM). This has made Voyager 2 the second human-made object to journey out of the Sun’s influence. The first spacecraft to do so was Voyager 1 in 2012.
About Voyager 2: Voyager 2 was launched by NASA in 1977, to study the outer planets. Voyager 2 targeted Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
- Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to study all four of the solar system’s giant planets at close range.
- Voyager 2 discovered a 14th moon at Jupiter.
- Voyager 2 was the first human-made object to fly past Uranus.
- At Uranus, Voyager 2 discovered 10 new moons and two new rings.
- Voyager 2 was the first human-made object to fly by Neptune.
- At Neptune, Voyager 2 discovered five moons, four rings, and a “Great Dark Spot.- a huge spinning storm in the southern atmosphere of Neptune which was about the size of the entire Earth.
Interstellar medium (ISM):
- It is the matter and radiation that exists in the space between the star systems in a galaxy. This matter includes gas in ionic, atomic, and molecular form, as well as dust and cosmic rays.
News: Ministry of Steel has issued the Steel Scrap Recycling Policy.
Steel Scrap Recycling Policy
- To promote circular economy in the steel sector.
- To promote a formal and scientific collection, dismantling and processing activities for end of life products that are sources of recyclable (ferrous, non- ferrous and other non-metallic) scraps.
- Processing and recycling of products in an organized, safe and environment friendly manner.
- To evolve a responsive ecosystem by involving all stakeholders.
- To produce high quality ferrous scrap for quality steel production thus minimizing the dependency on imports.
- To decongest the Indian cities from End of Life Vehicles (ELVs) and reuse of ferrous scrap
- To create a mechanism for treating waste streams and residues produced from dismantling and shredding facilities in compliance to Hazardous & Other Wastes (Management & Trans boundary Movement) Rules, 2016
- To promote 6Rs principles of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recover, Redesign and Remanufacture
- A hub and the spoke model has been promulgated to structure the informal ELV recycling sector and generate scrap:
- An Inter-Ministerial Coordination Committee has been set up for policy changes required for creating an organized steel scrapping eco system and to monitor the operationalization and enforcement of relevant laws and regulations in this regard.
National Steel Policy 2017
Vision: To create a self-sufficient steel industry that is technologically advanced, globally competitive and promotes inclusive growth
Objectives: The National Steel Policy aims at achieving the following objectives –
- Build a globally competitive industry with a crude steel capacity of 300 MT by
- Increase per Capita Steel Consumption to 160 Kgs by 2030-31
- To domestically meet entire demand of high grade automotive steel, electrical
- steel, special steels and alloys for strategic applications by 2030-31
- Increase domestic availability of washed coking coal so as to reduce import
- dependence on coking coal to 50% by 2030-31
- To be net exporter of steel by 2025-26
- Encourage industry to be a world leader on energy and raw material efficient steel production by 2030-31, in a safe and sustainable manner
- Develop and implement quality standards for domestic steel products
News: Sample Registration System (SRS) 2015-2017 bulletin for MMR has been released.
Maternal Mortality Ratio
- Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) in India has seen a decline from 130 per 1 lakh live births in 2014-2016 to 122 per 1 lakh live births in 2015-2017. It is a decline of 8 points (6.2%).
- Assam records the highest MMR at 229 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, followed by Uttar Pradesh (216), Madhya Pradesh (188), Rajasthan (186), Odisha (168), Bihar (165) and Chhattisgarh (141).
- Kerala has the lowest MMR, at 42. It is followed by Maharashtra (55), Tamil Nadu (63), Andhra Pradesh (74), Jharkhand (76) and Telangana (76).
- Karnataka has shown the highest percentage decline in MMR.
Maternal Mortality Rate:
- Uttar Pradesh has highest maternal mortality rate at 20.1, followed by Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Assam.
- Kerala has the lowest maternal mortality rate, at 1.9, followed by Maharashtra at 3.3.
- Maternal Mortality: It refers to the number of maternal deaths which occur due to pregnancy or as a result of a complication of the same.
- Maternal Mortality Ratio: It is the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. It is a measure of the risk of death once a woman has become pregnant.
- Maternal Mortality Rate: It is defined as the number of maternal deaths (direct and indirect) in a given period per 100,000 women of reproductive age during the same time period
- SDG-Maternal Mortality Target: United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 3.1) calls to reduce MMR to less than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030.
- National Health Policy 2017 Target: MMR of 100/lakh Live Births by 2020.
Surakshit Matritva Aashwasan (SUMAN) initiative for Zero Preventable Maternal and Newborn Deaths:
- The scheme aims to provide dignified and quality health care at no cost to every woman and newborn visiting a public health facility in order to bring down maternal and infant mortality rates in the country,
- Under the scheme, pregnant women, mothers up to 6 months after delivery and all sick newborns will be able to avail free healthcare benefits such as four antenatal check-ups and six home-based newborn care visits.
- The scheme will enable zero expense access to the identification and management of complications during and after the pregnancy.
- The government will also provide free transport from home to health institutions.
- The pregnant women will also have a zero expense delivery and C-section facility in case of complications at public health facilities.