Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 14 January 2023

Tropical forests can emit carbon

GS Paper - 3 (Environment)

A new study has found that tropical forests, which have been logged (cut down) or degraded, remain a source of carbon emission for at least a decade. The findings are contrary to a previous assumption – that recovering tropical forests absorb more carbon than they emit into the atmosphere because they witness rapid re-growth of trees.

More about the study

  1. The study compared data collected from both intact and logged forests and concluded that the latter release a substantial amount of carbon from its damaged soil and decaying deadwood.
  2. Researchers Maria B. Mills (University of Leicester), Terhi Riutta (University of Oxford), Yadvinder Malhi, (University of Oxford) and others from the UK, Malaysia, Peru and Australia authored the latest study, ‘Tropical forests post-logging are a persistent net carbon source to the atmosphere’, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
  3. Our data directly contradict the default assumption that recovering logged and degraded tropical forests are net carbon sinks, implying the amount of carbon being sequestered across the world’s tropical forests may be considerably lower than currently estimated,” the researchers wrote in the paper.

What is carbon sequestration?

  1. Carbon sequestration is a crucial part of the global carbon cycle, as it is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide.
  2. One of the ways this happens is when forests and other land vegetation absorb carbon dioxide during photosynthesis.
  3. According to a 2014 NASA-led study, tropical forests remove up to 30 per cent of human carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere and make for an important carbon sink — an area which absorbs more carbon than releases it. Therefore, they have a significant role in keeping global temperatures low.

What makes this study’s findings different?

  1. Many of the previous studies on recovering tropical forests estimated the amount of carbon being absorbed by them by only focusing on the regrowing of the trees.
  2. This means they are only measuring the sink function of the forest. If you imagine your bank account – it would be like only looking at your incomings, not your outgoings.
  3. Their study was conducted in the forests of Malaysian Borneo, which is a hotspot of deforestation and forest degradation.
  4. The region has a vast expanse of logged forests as well as old-growth protected forests, providing “a great logging gradient to study.”
  5. To estimate the carbon of the area, the researchers used a handheld infrared gas analyser monitor to test patches of ground and pieces of deadwood. They also set up a 52 metres-high tower, which measured the ‘flux’ of carbon into and out of the forest.

 

Chandra observatory dig out black holes

GS Paper - 3 (Space Technology)

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has helped discover hundreds of black holes previously buried, which will help astronomers get a more accurate census of black holes in the universe. By combining data from the Chandra Source Catalog -- a public repository including hundreds of thousands of X-ray sources detected by the observatory over its first 15 years -- and optical data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), a team of astronomers was able to identify hundreds of black holes that had previously been hidden.

What

  1. They are in galaxies not previously identified to contain quasars, extremely bright objects with rapidly growing supermassive black holes.
  2. Astronomers have already identified huge numbers of black holes, but many remain elusive.
  3. Our research has uncovered a missing population and helped us understand how they are behaving.
  4. The black holes in the new study are the supermassive variety that contain millions or even billions of times the mass of the Sun.
  5. For about 40 years scientists have known about galaxies that look normal in optical light but shine brightly in X-rays.
  6. They refer to these objects as "X-ray bright optically normal galaxies" or "XBONGs".
  7. With Chandra's help, the researchers identified 817 XBONG candidates, more than 10 times the number known before Chandra was in operation.

Chandra Source Catalog

  1. The Chandra Source Catalog is growing treasures that will help astronomers make discoveries for years to come.
  2. The team concluded that about half the XBONG candidates involve X-ray sources that are buried under thick gas because relatively small amounts of low- energy X-rays were detected.
  3. These black holes range in distances between 550 million and 7.8 billion light-years from Earth.

 

SC on hate speeches, free and balanced press

GS Paper -2 (Judiciary)

The Supreme Court observed that hate speeches are a "complete menace", and ruled the lack of regulatory control on TV news content, and it wants "free and balanced press in India".

More about the news

  1. The top court said nowadays everything is driven by TRP (television rating point) and channels are competing with each other and creating a division in society.
  2. It wondered, if a TV news anchor, became a part of the problem of propagating hate speech, be taken off air.
  3. It said unlike for print media, there is no Press Council of India for news channels, and observed about having free speech, but at what cost".
  4. It expressed concern over the media trial, the bench pointed to the recent incident of a man allegedly urinating on an Air India flight, saying he was called names. Media people should understand he is still under trial and he should not be denigrated.

Apex Court on TV channels:

  1. It said TV channels are competing with each other as news coverage is TRP-driven. "They sensationalise everything and create divisions in society because of the visual element.
  2. He said many times during live debates the anchors became part of the problem as they either mute the voice of the person sitting in a panel or don't allow them to present a counter view.
  3. It said if TV channels are found to be violating the programme code by indulging in propagation of hate speech, action can be taken against their management.
  4. The bench said media people must learn that they are occupying positions of great strength and they have an impact on society. They cannot be part of the problem and speak their mind whichever way they want.

Court direction to centre:

  1. It said that freedom of speech and expression is a very important and delicate thing and the government has to take some action without actually interfering with it.
  2. Additional Solicitor General said the Centre is aware of the problem and is contemplating bringing amendments in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to deal with the problem of hate speeches.
  3. The bench told him the government has to act against broadcasts that impact the nation and affect fraternity and harmony carefully within the domain of law with some out of the box solutions.
  4. It warned any delay on the part of the administration in taking action on this "very serious issue" will invite the court's contempt.

 

Voice of Global South Summit

GS Paper -2 (Schemes and Policy making)

PM while addressing the Voice of Global South Summit called for a globalisation “that does not create climate crisis or debt crisis” for the developing nations. India appreciates principle of globalisation. However, developing countries desire globalisation that doesn’t lead to unequal distribution of vaccines or over-concentrated global supply chains.

More about the news

  1. India wants globalisation that brings prosperity and well-being to humanity as a whole; in short we want human-centric globalisation.
  2. While pointing out that, the last three years have been difficult for the developing nations, the challenges of the COVID pandemic, rising prices of fuel, fertiliser and food grains and increasing geo-political tensions have impacted our development efforts.
  3. PM announced at the summit that India will be setting up this institution that will undertake research on development solutions or best practices of any of our countries which can be scaled and implemented in other members of the global south.

Global South Science and Technology initiative:

  1. It will help to share our expertise with other developing nations.

Aarogya Mitra Project:

  1. Under this project, India will provide essential medical supplies to any developing country affected by natural disasters or humanitarian crises.

Global South scholarships:

  1. It will help students from developing countries to pursue higher education in the country.

Proposal for Global South Young Diplomats Forum:

  1. It will help to connect youthful officers to our Foreign Ministries for synergising the group’s diplomatic voice.

Flashback:

  1. The Global Southis a term often used to identify regions within Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. It is one of a family of terms, including "Third World" and "Periphery” that denote regions outside Europe and North America.
  2. The term as used by governmental and developmental organizations was first introduced as a more open and value-free alternative to "Third World”, and similarly potentially "valuing" terms likedeveloping countries.
  3. Countries of the Global South have been described as newly industrialized or in the process of industrializing, and are frequently current or former subjects of colonialism. Most, though not all, of these countries are low-income and often politically or culturally marginalized on one side of the divide.

 

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