Daily Prelims Notes 4 March 2023
- March 4, 2023
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
4 March 2023
Table Of Contents
- African dryland trees store less carbon than believed earlier
- Forest certification in India
- Frog endemic to the higher altitudes of Western Ghats ‘rediscovered’
- BIMSTEC region can provide green, affordable energy access to all
- Samarth Scheme
- India scores 74.4 in World Bank index on working women
- Satellite swarms are increasingly spoiling Hubble Telescope Images
- Supreme Court eases norm for selection of consumer court presidents, members
- Great Pyramid of Giza
- Qualified Stock Brokers
1. African dryland trees store less carbon than believed earlier
Context: Study by team including NASA scientists estimates carbon stocks of trees in semi-arid sub-Saharan Africa; calculates 840 million tonnes of carbon locked up.
More on the News:
- There are far more trees spread across semi-arid regions of Africa than previously thought, but the trees also store less carbon than some models have predicted. A new study has taken inventory of nearly 10 billion trees in semi-arid sub-Saharan Africa.
- The team gathered and analysed carbon data down to the individual tree level across the vast semi-arid regions of Africa or elsewhere something that had previously been done only on small, local scales
- The “carbon residence time,” as scientists call it, is very short for grasses and bushes, which grow seasonally, but much longer for trees that grow for years.
- Carbon is constantly cycling between the land, the atmosphere, the ocean, and back. Trees remove carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas from Earth’s atmosphere during photosynthesis and store it in their roots, trunks, branches, and leaves.
- For this reason, increasing tree cover is often suggested as a way to offset ever-increasing carbon emissions.
- International Crops Research Institute for The Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has published a modelling study that revealed how the right combination of fertiliser5, biochar, and irrigation could potentially increase soil carbon by as much as 300 per cent and help mitigate climate change.
Carbon residence time
- Carbon residence time, also known as carbon turnover time or carbon mean transit time, refers to the average length of time that a carbon atom spends in the atmosphere or another carbon pool before it is exchanged with another pool. In other words, it is the time it takes for carbon to move through the carbon cycle.
- Carbon residence time varies depending on the specific carbon pool being considered. For example, the carbon residence time of atmospheric carbon dioxide is relatively short, on the order of a few years, while the carbon residence time of carbon stored in deep ocean sediments can be thousands or even millions of years.
- Soil organic carbon (SOC) comes from plants, animals, microbes, leaves and wood, mostly found in the first metre or so.
- Soil organic carbon is a measureable component of soil organic matter. Organic matter makes up just 2–10% of most soil’s mass and has an important role in the physical, chemical and biological function of agricultural soils.
- It is critical for crop yield and climate adaptation or mitigation measures, which are heavily reduced by both intensive agriculture and indiscriminate use of chemicals leading to increased carbon emissions.
- Increasing SOC through various methods can improve soil health.
- It can contribute to agricultural yield, food security, and water quality, and also reduce the need for chemicals.
- It helps address carbon mitigationand also improves conditions of fresh water, biodiversity, land use and nitrogen use.
- Moreover, carbon sequestration in soils has the potential to offset GHG emissionsfrom fossil fuels by up to 15% annually.
- Utilising this option would thus offer breathing time before other technologies can help to transit to a zero-carbon lifestyle.
How is it achieved?
- There are many conditions and processes that determine changes to SOC content.
- These include temperature, rainfall, vegetation, soil management and land-use change.
- Thus, increasing Soil Organic Carbon involves adopting sustainable agricultural practices to keep these factors in balance.
- The approaches to increase SOC include:
- reducing soil erosion
- use of cover crops
- nutrient management
- applying manure and sludge
- water harvesting and conservation
- agroforestry practices, etc
- It is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide.
- It is one method of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere with the goal of reducing global climate change.
- Natural process: Carbon dioxide (CO2) is naturally captured from the atmosphere through biological, chemical, and physical processes. These changes can be accelerated through changes in land use and agricultural practices, such as converting crop land into land for non-crop fast growing plants.
- Artificial processes: Artificial processes have been devised to produce similar effects, including large-scale, artificial capture and sequestration of industrially produced CO2 using subsurface saline aquifers, reservoirs, ocean water, aging oil fields, or other carbon sinks, bio-energy with carbon capture and storage, biochar, enhanced weathering, direct air capture and water capture when combined with storage.
- Biosequestration: It is the capture and storage of the atmospheric greenhouse gas carbon dioxide by continual or enhanced biological processes. This form of carbon sequestration occurs through increased rates of photosynthesis via land-use practices such as reforestation and sustainable forest management.
2. Forest certification in India
Context: The certification industry offers a multi-layer audit system that seeks to authenticate the origin, legality, and sustainability of forest-based products.
More on the News:
- Large-scale destruction of forests has always been a concern for the environment, but with climate change, deforestation has become a critically sensitive issue globally in recent years.
- Forests absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide that is emitted in various economic activities, keeping a check on global warming. At the Glasgow climate meeting in 2021, more than 100 countries took a pledge to stop, and start reversing, deforestation by 2030.
- Europe and the United States have passed laws that regulate the entry and sale of forest-based products in their markets to present an environment-friendly image.
- This is where the certification industry comes in offering a multi-layer audit system that seeks to authenticate the origin, legality, and sustainability of forest-based products such as timber, furniture, handicraft, paper and pulp, rubber, and many more.
- Stopping deforestation does not mean forests cannot be harvested in a sustainable manner for the products. In fact, periodic harvesting of trees is necessary and healthy for forests. Trees have a life span, beyond which they die and decay.
- Also, after a certain age, the capacity of trees to absorb carbon dioxide gets saturated. Younger and fresher trees are more efficient at capturing carbon dioxide. The problem arises only when trees are felled indiscriminately, and the cutting of forests outpaces their natural regeneration.
Forest Certification Standards
- Two major international standards for sustainable management of forests and forest-based products.
- One has been developed by Forest Stewardship Council, or FSC
- Other by Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certifications, or PEFC.
- Organisations like FSC or PEFC are only the developers and owners of standards. They are not involved in the evaluation and auditing of the processes being followed by the forest managers or manufacturers or traders of forest-based products. That is the job of certification bodies authorised by FSC or PEFC.
- The certification bodies often subcontract their work to smaller organisations.
- PEFC does not insist on the use of its own standards. Instead, like its name suggests, it endorses the ‘national’ standards of any country if they are aligned with its own.
- Two main types of certification are on offer: forest management (FM) and Chain of Custody (CoC).
- CoC certification is meant to guarantee the traceability of a forest product like timber throughout the supply chain from origin to market.
- These standards have been developed by the New Delhi-based nonprofit Network for Certification and Conservation of Forests (NCCF).
- Based on the recommendations of an expert committee in 2005, the Environment Ministry had asked relevant institutions like the Bhopal-based Indian Institute of Forest Management to draw up national forest standards. Considerable work was done, and a draft Cabinet note seeking the government’s approval for setting up such standards was drawn up. However, the effort did not come to fruition.
- When the NCCF came into being in 2015, offering PEFC certification in India, the Environment Ministry nominated an officer on the governing board, lending it official legitimacy. But the nomination was later withdrawn. Last year, the Ministry associated itself with FSC, by launching its new India standards.
3. Frog endemic to the higher altitudes of Western Ghats ‘rediscovered’
Section: Species in news
Context: After 89 years, frog endemic to the higher altitudes of Western Ghats ‘rediscovered’
More on the News:
- The Jerdon’s narrow-mouthed frog (Uperodon montanus) could once be spotted leaping over slippery pebbles or peeping from behind rocks in the shallows of streams in the upper reaches of the Western Ghats.
- But since it was last studied in 1934 by a British scientist, the species faded into oblivion, rarely spotted by residents and researchers or wrongly identified as other ambhibians that look similar.
- This changed last year when a group of zoologists photographed 40 tadpoles of the species in the biodiverse Western Ghats, in the same stages of development they were last identified 89 years ago, according to a new report published.
Jerdon’s narrow-mouthed frog
- The frogs have a longish snout, which gives it its name, and shiny brown skin with darker brown, red and golden spots on the back and head. They are found in rock pools or tree holes filled with rainwater.
- This frog is considered a montane species and is restricted to higher altitude ranges of 800-1,700 metres.
- This species is found in Moist deciduous forest, Semi-evergreen forest and Evergreen forest. Rain-water filled tree holes are the favoured microhabitat of these frogs.
- It is classified as ‘Near Threatened’ in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.
- Its tadpoles are free-swimming and exotrophic, which means they feed on other species.
Endemic species are plant and animal species that are found in a particular geographical region and nowhere else in the world.
4. BIMSTEC region can provide green, affordable energy access to all
Subject: International Relations
Context: India hosted the first meeting of Governing Board of BIMSTEC Energy Centre in Bengaluru February 27, 2023.
More on the News:
- Access to energy has increased in most BIMSTEC countries except Myanmar, the overall generation mix is dominated by fossil fuel in major economies of BIMSTEC.
- There is a need to decarbonise the power sector, thereby greening the energy access in the BIMSTEC region and fostering green access in the countries where energy access is still low and access is fossil dominant.
- Increasing and deepening the cross-border power trade in the region would help improve energy access, greening the energy access and addressing energy security concerns in the region.
- BIMSTEC countries go a long way in terms of energy cooperation bilaterally in the electricity sector.
- There is a need to democratise dialogue on regional energy cooperation to build and maintain political trust and consensus by engaging in continuous dialogue on regional electricity integration and market development across all levels of stakeholders.
- The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional multilateral organization.
- BIMSTEC Secretariat was opened in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
- Its members lie in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal constituting a contiguous regional unity.
- Out of the 7 members: Five are from South Asia – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal,and Sri Lanka. Two are from Southeast Asia – Myanmar, Thailand.
- It mainly aims to create an enabling environment for rapid economic development; accelerate social progress; and promote collaboration on matters of common interest in the region.
Origin of BIMSTEC
- This sub-regional organization came into being in 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration.
- Initially, it was formed with four Member States with the acronym ‘BIST-EC’ (Bangladesh, India, Sri-Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation).
- It became renamed ‘BIMST-EC’ in 1997, following the inclusion of Myanmar.
- With the admission of Nepal and Bhutan in 2004, the name of the grouping was changed to ‘Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation’ (BIMSTEC).
Subject : Schemes
- The Ministry of Textiles has called for applications for implementing partners for its Samarth scheme, which will be on till the end of March 2024.
- The ministry has opened a window for the implementing partners – industries and industrial associations – to register before March 14, 2023.
About Samarth Scheme
- Samarth (Scheme for Capacity Building in Textile Sector) is a flagship skill development scheme approved in continuation to the Integrated Skill Development Scheme for 12th Five Year Plan (FYP), Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs.
- The office of the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts) is implementing the SAMARTH to provide skill training to handicraft artisans under the component ‘Skill Development in Handicrafts Sector’ of National Handicrafts Development Programme (NHDP).
- The scheme covers the entire textile value chain except for spinning and weaving.
- To provide demand-driven, placement-oriented skilling programmes to incentivize the efforts of the industry in creating jobs in the organized textile and related sectors to promote skilling and skill up-gradation in the traditional sectors through respective sectoral divisions/organizations of the Ministry of Textile.
- To provide livelihood to all sections of the society across the country.
6. India scores 74.4 in World Bank index on working women
Subject : International Relations
Section : International reports
- Recently, the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law Report 2023 has been released, which covers 190 countries.
- Significantly the UAE scored 82.5 out of 100 possible points across 35 sub indicators divided into eight major areas of the report: Mobility, Workplace, Pay, Marriage, Parenthood, Entrepreneurship, Assets, and Pension.
- India scored 74.4 out of possible 100, higher than the 63.7 average for the South Asian region, though lower than Nepal which had the region’s highest score of 80.6.
- In 2022, the global average score on the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law was 77.1 and this year it is 77 per cent.
World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law Report 2023
- World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law 2023 assesses 190 countries’ laws and regulations in eight areas related to women’s economic participation—mobility, workplace, pay, marriage, parenthood, entrepreneurship, assets, and pensions.
- World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law 2023 is the ninth in a series of annual studies measuring the laws and regulations that affect women’s economic opportunity in 190 economies.
- It identifies barriers to women’s economic participation and encourages reform of discriminatory laws.
- The data—which are current through Oct 1, 2022—offer objective and measurable benchmarks for global progress toward legal gender equality.
- Today, just 14 countries—all high-income economies—have laws that give women the same rights as men.
Other World Bank Reports
- Commodity Markets Outlook
- Doing Business
- Global Economic Prospects
- Global Financial Development Report
- International Debt Statistics
- Policy Research Reports (PRRs)
- Poverty and Shared Prosperity
- World Development Indicators
- World Development Reports
7. Satellite swarms are increasingly spoiling Hubble Telescope Images
Subject: Science and technology
Section: Space Technology
- Research published this week in Nature Astronomy suggests, showing that the Hubble Space Telescope is being impacted by these burgeoning satellite swarms.
- The steadily growing satellite population has been posing challenges for ground-based astronomy, but new research reveals that space-based telescopes like Hubble are also suffering.
- Constellations such as Starlink and OneWeb greatly exacerbate the issue, producing annoying streaks in astronomical imagery.
About the study
- For the study, the researchers looked at more than 100,000 individual Hubble images contributed by over 10,000 citizen scientists working on the Hubble Asteroid Hunter project.
- A deep learning algorithm was trained to spot images marred by satellite streaks and ignore similar trail-like features caused by natural phenomena, such as asteroids, gravitational lensing, and cosmic rays.
- It is found that 7% of Hubble images taken from 2009 to 2020 were tarnished by satellite streaks. By 2021, this number had risen to 5.9%.
- There were 1,562 Starlink and 320 OneWeb satellites in orbit at the time, “increasing the population of satellites close to the orbit” of Hubble.
- Data for this analysis stopped in 2021, but it’s now two years later, and with so many more satellites currently working in orbit, the problem is undoubtedly much worse.
- Astronomers are also asking satellite operators to do their part, such as making their satellites less reflective.
- In response to such requests, SpaceX has been experimenting with some mitigation techniques for Starlink, such as using dark paint to absorb sunlight.
- Unfortunately, this particular “mitigation was less effective than desired,” according to SpaceX.
- Other approaches, namely a visor to block reflective sunlight and orientation adjustments to minimize surface area, have proven to be “highly effective,” the company claims.
- SpaceX is also experimenting with “dielectric mirror film,” which directs light away from Earth.
Hubble vs Webb Telescope
- Hubble is currently operating some 336 miles (540 kilometers) above the surface, which is roughly 6 miles (10 km) lower than some of the highest Starlink satellites.
- A solution might be to significantly raise Hubble’s orbit, which has shrunk dramatically over the decades. NASA and SpaceX are currently hatching a plan to determine if such a thing is possible.
- As an aside, the recently deployed Webb Space Telescope is immune to satellite streaks, as it’s working 932,000 miles (1.5 million km) away in the second Lagrange point.
- The Hubble Space Telescope is known for recording awe-inspiring images of the cosmos.
- The Hubble Space Telescope was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990 and remains in operation.
- The Hubble telescope is named after astronomer Edwin Hubble and is one of NASA’s Great Observatories, along with the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (1991–2000), the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the Spitzer Space Telescope (2003–2020).
- Hubble and its four main instruments observe in the ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.
- Hubble’s orbit outside the distortion of atmosphere of Earth allows it to capture extremely high-resolution images with substantially lower background light than ground-based telescopes.
- It has recorded some of the most detailed visible light images, allowing a deep view into space.
- Many Hubble observations have led to breakthroughs in astrophysics, such as determining the rate of expansion of the universe.
Contributions of Hubble Telescope
- Helped pin down the age for the universe now known to be 13.8 billion years, roughly three times the age of Earth.
- Discovered two moons of Pluto, Nix and Hydra.
- Helped determine the rate at which the universe is expanding.
- Discovered that nearly every major galaxy is anchored by a black hole at the centre.
- Created a 3-D map of dark matter.
8. Supreme Court eases norm for selection of consumer court presidents, members
Subject : Polity
- The Supreme Court on March 3rd reduced the mandatory professional experience from 20 to 10 years to preside over consumer courts.
- The Supreme Court said lawyers and professionals with a Bachelor’s degree who has 10 years of experience in consumer affairs, law, public affairs, administration, economics, commerce, industry, finance, management, engineering, technology, public health or medicine will be eligible for appointment as President and member of the state consumer commission and district forums.
- It used its extraordinary powers under Article 142 to reduce the experience criteria to attract younger talent to preside over consumer courts.
- It also introduced written exams and viva voce to check the candidates’ performance.
- Consumer commissions have the power of civil courts in many aspects.
- The Union government has proposed several amendments to the Consumer Protection (Qualification for appointment, method of recruitment, procedure of appointment, term of office, resignation and removal of President and Members of State Commission and District Commission) Rules, 2020.
- The Supreme Court’s recent judgement would fill the vacuum until the amendments were made in the 2020 Rules.
- For notes on consumer protection act, 2019, refer – https://optimizeias.com/consumer-protection-act/#:~:text=The%20newly%20enacted%20Consumer%20Protection,and%20misleading%20ads%20by%20firms.
Article 142 of the Constitution:
- Article 142 provides a unique power to the Supreme Court, to do complete justice between the parties, where at times law or statute may not provide a remedy.
- In those situations, the Court can extend itself to put a quietus to a dispute in a manner that would fit the facts of the case.
Subject : History
Section: World History
- At the main entrance of the 4,500-year-old Great Pyramid of Giza, researchers have discovered a secret passageway.
- According to BBC news, the initial finding was made by the ScanPyramids project in 2016 using a non-invasive method called cosmic-ray muon radiography.
- Since then, researchers have used a variety of techniques to conduct a focused analysis of the discovered structure.
The Great Pyramid
- The Great Pyramid of Giza is the largest Egyptian pyramid and the tomb of Khufu, who is widely regarded as the greatest emperor of ancient Egypt.
- Construction was started in 2550 BC, during the reign of Khufu, often considered the greatest pharaoh of Egypt’s old kingdom.
- The pyramid is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one to remain largely intact.
- According to National Geographic, the pyramid was constructed out of 2.5 million stone pieces that each weighed between 2.5 and 15 tonnes.
Cosmic-Ray Muon Radiography (CMR)
- CMR is a technique used to study the density and composition of materials hidden within large and dense objects, such as geological formations, archaeological sites, and industrial facilities.
- The technique involves using muons, a type of cosmic-ray particle, to generate images of the interior of such objects.
- Muon particles are created when cosmic rays, mostly protons and atomic nuclei, collide with atoms in the Earth’s upper atmosphere.
- These muons travel through the atmosphere and penetrate deep into the ground, passing through objects along their path.
- Muons are highly penetrating particles that can penetrate several meters of rock or other materials, making them ideal for imaging the internal structure of objects.
- Working principle
- The principle behind CMR is to measure the flux of muons passing through an object and compare it to the expected flux based on the object’s geometry and composition.
- Differences in the measured and expected flux indicate variations in the object’s density or composition, which can be used to create an image of the object’s internal structure.
Subject : Economy
Section: Capital market
- National Stock Exchange (NSE) Friday issued a list of 15 designated Qualified Stock Brokers (QSBs), including Zerodha Broking, 5paisa Capital, HDFC Securities, ICICI Securities, Anand Rathi Share and Stock Brokers, Angel One, IIFL Securities, Kotak Securities, and Motilal Oswal Financial Services.
- This list was announced following a February 2023 direction by the capital markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi).
Qualified Stock Brokers
- In order to further strengthen the compliance and monitoring requirements relating to stock brokers and to ensure efficient functioning of securities market, SEBI, vide Gazette Notification dated January 17, 2023, amended the SEBI (Stock Broker) Regulations, 1992 for designating certain stock brokers as QSB.
- QSBs as entities who, because of their size and scale of operations, can likely impact investors and the securities market, as well as governance and service standards. These stock brokers cater to the needs of a large number of investors.
- The stock market activity is concentrated to these Qualified stock brokers.
- The failure of such stock brokers has the potential to cause disruption in the services they provide to large numbers of investors, causing widespread impact in the securities market.
How are Qualified Stock Brokers designated?
- A stock broker will be designated as QSB on the basis of four parameters — number of active clients, total available assets of clients, trading volumes and end-of-day margin obligations.
- All stock brokers with a total score greater than or equal to five on these four parameters are identified as QSBs.
- The capital markets regulator said it may include more stock brokers in its list of designated QSBs by considering additional parameters such as compliance, grievance redressal scores and proprietary trading volumes.
- The scores are to be calculated on an annual basis (financial year) and the revised list of QSBs will be released jointly by stock exchanges, in consultation with Sebi.
Additional Requirements for QSB
- A stock broker designated as a QSB is required to meet enhanced obligations and discharge responsibilities to ensure appropriate governance structure, appropriate risk management policy and processes, scalable infrastructure and appropriate technical capacity, framework for orderly winding down, robust cyber security framework, and investor services including online complaint redressal mechanism.
- The risk management framework of QSBs should have measures for carrying out surveillance of client behaviour through analysing the pattern of trading done by them and detection of any unusual activity.
- QSBs will have to red flag any unusual client behaviour to stock exchanges and take necessary measures to prevent fraudulent activity in the market.