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Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | Jan 28,2021

PM addressed “Climate Adaptation Summit 2021”

What is the News?
The Prime Minister of India addressed the Climate Adaptation Summit 2021 virtually.

About Climate Adaptation Summit 2021

  • Climate Adaptation Summit 2021: The summit is being hosted online by the Netherlands Government.
  • Aim: CAS is aimed to accelerate, innovate and scale up global efforts in adapting to the effects of climate change. It will make the world as a climate-resilient world.
  • Summit will keep up the momentum of the global efforts towards climate change adaptation till UNFCCC’s COP26 in Glasgow in 2021.

Commitments made by India

During the summit, the Indian Prime Minister mentioned the following aims of India towards adaptation:-

  • To increase the renewable energy capacity to 450 gigawatts by 2030.
  • Promoting LED lights and saving 38 million tons of carbon-dioxide emissions annually.
  • To restore 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.
  • Providing clean cooking fuel to 80 million rural households.
  • Connecting 64 million households to a piped water supply.

 1000 Cities Act Now initiative

The Initiative has been launched at Climate Adaptation Summit 2021.

  • Aim: The initiative aims to at implementation of comprehensive climate resilience strategies and adaptation measures in 1,000 cities by 2030.
  • To achieve this, the program is promoting a comprehensive package of measures. It includes the implementation of nature-based solutions, urban water resilience solutions, and a transformative capacity building program.

Additional Facts:

  • Global Commission on Adaptation(GCA): It was launched in Hague in 2018 by the 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon. But it was established by the Prime Minister of the Netherlands and the leaders of 22 other convening countries
  • Mandate: To accelerate adaptation by elevating the political visibility of adaptation and focusing on concrete solutions.
  • The Commission’s mandate came to an end following its Year of Action in 2020 with its work showcased at the Climate Adaptation Summit,2021. The Global Center on Adaptation will be taking forward its work.

Source: PIB

Underwater Scientific study to determine the age of “Ram Setu”

What is the news?

Indian scientists will undertake an underwater scientific study. The study aims to determine the age of the chain of corals and sediments forming the Ram Setu.

Facts:

Ram Sethu is a 48-km long bridge-like structure between India and Sri Lanka. It is also known as Adam’s bridge. The Ramayana mentions the bridge but there is little scientific knowledge about its formation.

About the under-water study Project:

    • The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa will conduct the project.
    • Objective: The project will help determine the age of the Ramayana period. Apart from that the project also focuses on the process behind the formation of Ram Setu. Likewise, the project also reveals any pre-existing submerged habitations around Ram Setu.
    • Duration: It will be a three-year project
    • Technique: The age of the sediments will be determined primarily using Carbon dating techniques.
    • Vessel: NIO’s(National Institute of Oceanography) vessel Sindhu Sadhana will be deployed for the project. The vessel will collect core samples at greater depths and perform bathymetry studies

(Bathymetry is the study of the “beds” or “floors” of water bodies, including the ocean, rivers, streams, and lakes).

    • Planned tests: The study will conduct two planned tests namely:
      1. Side-scan SONAR: This test will provide bathymetry which is similar to studying the topography of a structure on land.  Soundwave signals will be sent to the structure for this test. The sound waves will provide an outline of the physical structure of the Ram Setu.
      2. Silo seismic survey: Mild earthquake-like tremor shocks will be sent at shallow depths closer to the Ram Setu structure. These shocks are the energized shockwaves capable of penetrating into the structure. The relevant instruments will capture the reflected or refracted signals. Based on the reflected signals one can get a clear image on subsurface structure.
    • Significance of the project: Most importantly, Scientists believes underwater exploration studies can have the possibility to trace numerous ship wreckages and remains from the past.

Click here to further read about Ram Sethu Project

Source: Indian Express

“BBV154” A Bharat Biotech’s Intranasal Vaccine vaccine

What is the news?
An expert body is looking into Bharat Biotech’s application for testing its  Covid-19 vaccine, BBV154. This is an Intranasal Vaccine.

What is Intranasal Vaccine?

  • Vaccines are administered as injectable shots into the muscles(intramuscular). Or the tissue just between the skin and the muscles(subcutaneous).
  • However, with intranasal vaccines, the solution is sprayed into the nostrils and inhaled instead of injecting it.

Benefits of Intranasal Vaccine:

  • The nasal route has excellent potential for vaccination due to the organized immune systems of the nasal mucosa.
    • It is non-invasive, Needle-free.
    • Ease of administration – does not require trained health care workers.
    • Elimination of needle-associated risks (injuries and infections).
    • High compliance (Ideally suits for children and adults).
    • Reduces the overall cost of a vaccination drive as for example BBV154 requires a single-dose regimen.

Potential Setbacks of Intranasal Vaccine:

  • Past attempts to develop intranasal vaccines, including for measles flu, have not been very successful.
  • These vaccines use live, weakened viruses, but have never cleared clinical trials.
  • Only a live attenuated influenza flu vaccine has been licensed through this route of delivery.

Source: Indian Express

“M-Sand Policy” a policy to promote manufactured sand

Why in News?
The Rajasthan government has brought a policy on manufactured sand (M-sand). It will provide an industry status to the units producing manufactured sand for construction work.

It will reduce the dependence on riverbed sand.

Facts:

What is Manufactured Sand(M-Sand)?

  • Manufactured sand (M-Sand) is a substitute of river sand for concrete construction. It is produced by crushed hard granite stone.
  • The crushed sand is of cubical shape with rounded edges, washed and graded to as a construction material. The size of manufactured sand (M-Sand) is less than 4.75mm.

Usage of Manufactured Sand

  • Due to the fast-growing construction industry, the demand for sand has increased tremendously causing deficiency of suitable river sand in most parts of the world.
  • Hence, to avoid the depletion of good quality river sand for the use of construction, the use of manufactured sand has been increased.

Benefits of M-Sand:

  • It is easily available and has less transportation cost.
  • It does not contain organic and soluble compounds that affect the setting time and properties of cement, thus the required strength of concrete can be maintained.
  • M-Sand does not have the presence of impurities such as clay, dust and silt coatings which help in producing better quality concrete.
  • Furthermore, it can be dust-free and the sizes of m-sand can be controlled easily so that it meets the required grading for the given construction.
  • It eliminates the environmental impact that occurred due to the lifting of natural sand from the river bed.

Source: The Hindu

Nilgiri Elephant Corridor and Biosphere Reserve

What is the News?
The Supreme Court has appointed a new member to Technical Committee on Nilgiri Elephant Corridor.

The Supreme court last year constituted a committee to hear complaints by landowners against the action taken by the Nilgris Collector. The Nilgiris collector’s action includes the sealing of landowners’ buildings in the Nilgiris Elephant Corridor.

Facts:

Nilgiris Elephant Corridor:

  • Elephant corridors allow elephants to continue their nomadic mode of survival. Despite the shrinking forest cover, the corridors facilitate the traveling of elephants between distinct forest habitats.
  • Nilgiris elephant corridor is situated in the ecologically fragile Sigur plateau. The plateau connects the Western and the Eastern Ghats. Apart from that, the plateau also sustains elephant populations and their genetic diversity.
  • It has the Nilgiri Hills on its southwestern side and the Moyar River Valley on its north-eastern side. The elephants cross the plateau in search of food and water.

Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve:

  • The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is the largest protected forest area in India. The Biosphere Reserve spread across three states. Namely, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala.
  • The Nilgiri Sub-Cluster is a part of the Western Ghats which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2012.
  • The reserve includes the Aralam, Mudumalai, Mukurthi, Nagarhole, Bandipur, and Silent Valley national parks. Similarly, the reserve also includes the Wayanad, Karimpuzha, and Sathyamangalam wildlife sanctuaries.
  • It has the largest population of two endangered species, the lion-tailed macaque and Nilgiri tahr. The reserve hosts more than 400 tigers. Most importantly, the reserve is having more tigers than any other place on earth.
  • About 80% of flowering plants reported from the Western Ghats occur in Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.

Source: The Hindu

Akash NG (New Generation) Missile

What is the News?
Defence Research and Development Organisation(DRDO) has conducted the successful maiden launch of Akash-NG (New Generation) Missile. It was launched from Integrated Test Range off the coast of Odisha.

About Akash missile

  • Akash-NG Missile: It is a new generation Surface-to-Air Missile meant for use by the Indian Air Force.
  • Purpose: It will be used to intercept high-maneuvering low radar cross-section aerial threats.
  • Features: It is an advanced variant of Akash missile. It comes with an Active Electronically Scanned Array(AESA) multi-function radar that features all three functions – search, track and fire control in one platform.
  • Range: The earlier variant has a maximum range of 30 km while Akash-NG can strike targets up to 70 km.

Source: The Hindu

Anthropocene era

What is Anthropocene?

  • The word Anthropocene is derived from the Greek words. Anthropo in greek means “man” and cene in Greek means “new”.
  • Anthropocene is an unofficial unit of geologic time. It describes the most recent period in Earth’s history. In other words, the time when the human activity started to have a significant impact on the planet’s climate and ecosystems.
  •  These impacts include changes to biophysical environments and ecosystems, biodiversity and natural resources. Apart from that it also includes global warming, environmental degradation (such as ocean acidification), mass extinction and biodiversity loss, ecological crisis, and ecological collapse.
  • All these changes were being created by the human at a dangerous pace due to industrialization, introducing invasive species (agriculture, livestock, etc) for economic benefits, Overconsumption, overpopulation, etc.
  • In 2010, biologist Eugene Stormer and chemist Paul Crutzen coined the term ‘Anthropocene’. Later the word gained immense popularity.
  • In 2016, the Anthropocene Working Group agreed that the Anthropocene is different from the Holocene. The working group also mentions the year 1950 as the year when Great Acceleration took off (a dramatic increase in a human activity affecting the planet)

What is Holocene?

  • Earth’s history is divided into a hierarchical series of smaller periods of time. This is called as Geological Time Scale(GTS).
  • These smaller divisions, in descending length of time, are called eons, eras, periods, epochs, and ages.
  • The International Union of Geological Sciences(IUGS) is an international organization that names and defines epochs.
  • The current epoch is called the Holocene officially by IUGS. According to IUGS, the Holocene began 11,700 years ago, after the last major ice age.

Has the Anthropocene era been officially adopted?

  • Scientists still debate whether the Anthropocene is different from the Holocene.
  • Most importantly, the IUGS has not formally adopted the term Anthropocene.

Source: Indian Express 

“Covaxin” is effective against U.K. virus variant

What is the News?
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology(NIV) study found Covaxin effective against the new UK variant of Covid-19.

About the Study:

  • The study has found that Covaxin has a good neutralization capacity against the U.K variant of the COVID-19 virus. This capacity was the same against the strain used for making the vaccine.

How were the neutralization studies carried out?

  • Under this study, the virus isolated from people is grown in the lab using cell lines. When viruses successfully grow in them, the pathogenic effects of the viruses are observed in the cells.
  • The sera (the protein-rich liquid separated from blood after it is clotted) taken from vaccinated people are then added to the cell line culture system and its ability to prevent the virus from causing pathogenic effects is observed.
  • In this case, the sera taken from vaccinated people were able to neutralize the virus and hence prevent pathogenic effects being produced in the cell lines containing the virus.

Further Reading on Vaccines

Source: The Hindu

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