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11th January Current Affairs

What is Recession?

In News:

According to the World Bank’s annual report, the global economy will come “dangerously close” to a recession this year, owing to poorer growth in all of the world’s top economies – the United States, Europe, and China.

Warning signs:

The WB has reduced its forecast for global growth this year by nearly half, to 1.7%, from 3% previously.

If that projection is correct, it will be the third-weakest yearly expansion in three decades, trailing only the massive recessions caused by the 2008 global financial crisis and the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.

The impact of a global downturn:

It would fall particularly hard on poorer countries in such areas as Saharan Africa, which is home to 60% of the world’s poor.

Weakness in growth and business investment will exacerbate the already terrible reversals in education, health, poverty, and infrastructure, as well as the rising demands of climate change.

What is a cold wave?

In News:

Delhi and other parts of northwest India have been currently reeling under a cold wave spell.

Background: In Delhi (the Safdarjung weather station), the lowest minimum temperature recorded this month was 1.9 degrees Celsius on January 8.

What is a cold wave?

In the plains, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) marks a cold wave in terms of minimum temperatures –

When the minimum temperature is 4 degrees or less or

When the minimum temperature is less than 10 degrees and 4.5 to 6.4 degrees below the normal.

Reasons for the temperature drop in north and north-west India:

Large-scale fog cover, preventing sunlight from reaching the surface and affecting the radiation balance.

Light winds and high moisture near the land surface have been contributing to the fog.

Foggy or cloudy nights are usually associated with warmer nights, but if the fog remains for two or three days, cooling begins even at night.

While westerly and north-westerly winds of around 5 to 10 kmph in the afternoon have also been contributing to the dip in temperature.

Absence of western disturbances over the region. Western disturbances are storms from the Mediterranean region, which are associated with a change in wind direction, bringing easterly winds to northwest India.

Very Short-Range Air Defence System or VSHORAD

In News:

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) accorded Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) to procure the Very Short-Range Air Defence System or VSHORAD (Infrared Homing) missile system, designed and developed by the DRDO.

Background:

The development comes amid the ongoing military standoff with China at the LAC in eastern Ladakh.

India has been in talks with Russia since 2018 to procure the Igla-S air defence missiles at a cost of $1.5 billion under the VSHORAD programme in a bid to replace the Russian Igla-M systems which have been in use with the Army.

However, there has been little progress on that front with the government pitching for Atma Nirbharta (self-dependence) in defence.

What is the missile system? Meant to kill low altitude aerial threats at short ranges, VSHORADS is a man portable Air Defence System (MANPAD) designed and developed indigenously by DRDO in a way to ensure easy portability.

How will it help India?

Being man portable and lightweight, it can be deployed in the mountains close to the LAC at a short notice.

Others like the Akash Short Range Surface to Air Missile System are heavier with a theatre air defence umbrella of up to 25 km.

Ozone hole is filling up

(GS-III: Environment and Conservation)

In News:

The ozone hole, previously thought to be the most serious threat to planetary life, is now predicted to be completely healed by 2066.

This is stated in an UN-backed scientific team report titled ‘Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion 2022’.

Key highlights of the report:

The ozone layer is predicted to return to 1980 levels over Antarctica by 2066, 2045 for the Arctic, and 2040 for the remainder of the planet.

The ozone hole has been steadily improving since 2000, thanks to the Montreal Protocol’s (1987) effective implementation.

The Montreal Protocol mandates countries to phase out production of all main ozone depleting substances (ODSs).

The Kigali Amendment (2016) to the Montreal Protocol aims to phase down 80-90% of the hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) currently in use by 2050.

HFCs have replaced chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in industrial use and the amendment seeks to prevent additional 0.3 to 0.5 degree Celsius of global warming by the end of the century.

HFCs do not cause much ozone layer damage, which is why they were not originally prohibited, but they are extremely powerful greenhouse gases (GHGs).

Nearly 99% of the Montreal Protocol-banned substances have now been phased out of usage, resulting in a slow but steady rebuilding of the ozone layer.

The eradication of ODSs has a significant climate change co-benefit because these compounds are also potent GHGs, expected to prevent 0.5 to 1 degree Celsius of warming by 2050.

Is it possible to use the success of repairing the ozone hole to slow the rate of global warming?

The success of the Montreal Protocol in closing the ozone hole is widely mentioned as a model for climate action.

However, the parallels between the eradication of ODSs and the reduction of GHGs are limited because the usage of ODSs (though widespread) was limited to a few specific industries and their replacements were readily available.

The case of fossil fuels is very different:

CO2 emissions are directly related to energy production and it is produced by almost every economic activity.

Even so-called renewable energies, such as solar and wind, have significant carbon footprints due to the use of fossil fuels in their manufacturing, transportation, and operation.

Methane emissions, the other primary GHG, are primarily caused by agricultural operations and livestock.

Conclusion:

The influence of reducing GHG emissions is not restricted to a few economic sectors, but affects the entire economy, as well as human lifestyles, habits, and behaviours.

Without a question, dealing with climate change is a considerably more challenging and complex problem than dealing with ozone depletion.