MAINS DAILY QUESTIONS & MODEL ANSWERS
Q1. Ecosystems are impacted by climate change on a number of levels, including the populations that comprise them and the services they offer to individuals, communities, and economies. Analyze.
GS III – Environmental Conservation related issues
- Communities of living things, such as plants, animals, and microorganisms, that interact with the environment and one another are called ecosystems. One significant environmental factor affecting ecosystems is the climate. Ecosystems are impacted by climate change in a number of ways. Climate determines whether creatures flourish, how they develop, behave, and interact with the surrounding environment.
- Ecosystems are impacted by climate change on a number of levels, including the populations that comprise them and the services they offer to individuals, communities, and economies.
The following describes the main effects:
Species and Population Changes:
- Certain species will adjust to the changing climate by altering their physical attributes, behaviour, or physiological processes. Some people won’t be able to adjust. Therefore, certain populations may experience growth, decline, or extinction as a result of climate change. Consequently, a region’s overall biodiversity may be impacted by these changes.
- Range shifts: In reaction to shifting climatic conditions, both plants and animals may alter the geographic range they call home. For instance. Due to the warming ocean conditions, the major fish species are migrating off both Indian coasts.
- Timing Shifts in Natural Events and Cycles: A lot of plants and animals depend on environmental cues, such as temperature and water quality, to start specific phases of their life cycles. These cues may alter at varying speeds, or perhaps not at all, in response to climate change. Consequently, species that were mutually dependent during specific seasons of the year might no longer be in sync. For instance, while plankton is a vital source of food for juvenile fish, fish often respond to temperature changes more quickly than plankton does. This implies that when growing fish need the plankton the most, it could not be as readily available.
- Risks of extinction: One of the major stressors that can lead to the extinction of a species is climate change, along with pollution and habitat destruction. According to IPCC estimates, 20–30% of the plant and animal species that have been assessed in climate change studies thus far are in danger of going extinct.
Interactions within Ecosystems Changing:
- Disruptions to the food web: The effects of climate change can potentially impact food webs. For instance, the Arctic Ocean’s rising sea-ice melt and acidity are lowering krill numbers, endangering the lives of seals, whales, and penguins who rely on krill as their main food supply.
- Invasive species: In certain places, for instance, the spread of invasive species is being accelerated by climate change. The water hyacinth is a native of South America that is currently found in portions of all continents save Antarctica. As the climate warms, it is predicted that its distribution will expand.
Diminished or Alternate Ecosystem Services:
- Food Security: A few of the vital services that ecosystems offer to society are being impacted by climate change. Ecosystems, for instance, provide people an abundance of food. Drought and heat-related climate changes may have an impact on the quantity and quality of food available, as well as farmers’ capacity to produce specific crops.
- Carbon capture and storage: Ecosystem services like carbon capture and storage are equally susceptible to the effects of climate change. Ecosystems of forests are essential to the carbon cycle. However, an ecosystem’s capacity to deliver this crucial function may be limited by climate-related increases in wildfires, flooding, pests, and illnesses.
- Natural Buffers: In the face of catastrophic weather conditions like drought, flooding, and wildfires, ecosystems can act as natural buffers. Ecosystems may be less able to buffer the effects of extreme weather due to climate change and human manipulation, which could make them more vulnerable to harm.
The next step:
There are various approaches to reduce the effects of climate change on ecosystems, such as the following:
- Temperature increases can be stopped before they surpass the crucial 2° threshold by taking consistent, long-term action to accomplish the carbon reduction targets set forth in the Paris Agreement.
- Their efficacy can be further increased by reforesting and restoring ecosystems in ways that support biodiversity and include species resistant to climate change.
- Participate in citizen science initiatives to deliver precise, current climate change information.
- Notifying the appropriate authorities about invasive species can assist them in controlling animals and plants that pose a threat to native populations.
- Assisting animals in adjusting to changing climates and planning ways to deal with extreme weather occurrences like heat waves, floods, and droughts are examples of sensible conservation approaches.
- Use conservation tools to provide basic biodiversity risk screening, such as the Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool and the IUCN Red List. This will help corporations and governments lessen their impact on species and biodiversity.
- Use management strategies that strengthen ecosystems’ resilience to climate change and increase their overall health. For instance, grow native plants and practise water conservation. Water can be conserved in arid areas by planting native or drought-resistant plants.
- Ecosystems are undergoing numerous alterations as a result of the aggravating effects of climate change. Reducing the effects of climate change on ecosystems can be achieved by implementing effective mitigation strategies and by understanding its causes and implications.
Q2. In an effort to bring on rain in the midst of pollution, the Delhi government recently announced “cloud seeding.” Describe how cloud seeding works. Also discuss the uses and difficulties of cloud seeding as well.
GS III – Government Policies and Interventions
Method of Cloud Seeding:
- The procedure begins with the identification of acceptable clouds utilising aeroplanes or generators based on the ground through meteorological data. Seeding agents are then released into the selected clouds. More rainfall results from the seeding particles’ assistance in the creation of larger water droplets.
- In order to start cloud seeding, “seed” (solid carbon dioxide or salts like potassium, sodium, or silver iodide) is injected into the clouds. In order to offer more nuclei around which more cloud droplets can form, these salts are disseminated.
Techniques for seeding clouds:
- Hygroscopic cloud seeding: This technique uses explosions or flares to scatter salts into the lowest layers of clouds. After the distribution, the salts enlarge. Table salt is typically used in this technique. Research from nations like South Africa and Mexico has shown that hygroscopic cloud seeding works.
- Static cloud seeding: In 2010, infrared light was aimed towards Berlin’s atmosphere by University of Geneva researchers. The results of the experiment demonstrated that infrared can assist atmospheric sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide in forming seeds-like particles that result in rainfall.
- Using salts: Known as the most popular approach, substances like dry ice, potassium iodide, and silver iodide are distributed using dispersion devices on the ground or via an aircraft.
Cloud seeding applications:
- Agriculture: It contributes to precipitation, which can alleviate drought conditions in affected areas. For instance, the Karnataka government introduced “Project Varshadhari” in 2017, which involved spraying chemicals from an aircraft to create rainfall.
- Power generation: Over the past 40 years, Tasmania, Australia, has demonstrated that the cloud seeding technique increases hydroelectricity production.
- Control of water pollution: Cloud seeding is a technique that can reduce the effect of treated wastewater discharges from industry while preserving minimal river flows.
- The US initiated “Project Sky Water” in 1962 with the goals of reducing fog, suppressing hail, and altering cyclones.
- Combat air pollution: Toxic air pollutants can be reduced by using the cloud seeding technique, which creates rain.
Difficulties in cloud seeding:
- Side effects: Plants, animals, humans, and even the ecosystem may be harmed by the chemicals employed in cloud seeding.
- Unusual weather patterns: This could result in modifications to climate patterns. For example, areas that normally get rain could encounter dry spells because of man-made chemical additions to the atmosphere intended to encourage precipitation.
- High cost: Cloud seeding entails the expensive and logistically complex process of distributing chemicals into the sky using aeroplanes or flare shots.
- Pollution: When cloud seeding begins, salt, dry ice, or silver iodide are among the seeding ingredients that fall as rain. It is thought to be poisonous residual silver that has been found close to cloud-seeding operations.
- Several nations, including Mexico, the US, China, Indonesia, and Malaysia, have utilised cloud seeding to create rain, enhance air quality, and irrigate crops during dry spells. Cloud seeding has only been attempted to address drought-like circumstances in India thus far; it has not been used to reduce pollution. Only when the local atmosphere’s moisture content satisfies the necessary requirements and the weather circumstances are favourable can cloud seeding be carried out to achieve the desired outcomes