CAO Daily Editorial analysis for UPSC IAS 29-November, 2017

Current Affairs Only Daily Editorial Analysis for Competitive Exams


29 November, 2017

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Hunting for solutions {Environment} {Ecology}

(The Hindu)


Context

Local African voices need to be heard in the debate on trophy hunting

In news

According to a new study, hunting the most impressive animals weakens a species’ ability to survive in the face of environmental changes

What is trophy hunting?Image result for trophy hunting

Trophy hunting is the shooting of carefully selected animals – frequently big game such as rhinos, elephants, lions, pumas and bears – under official government licence, for pleasure. The trophy is the animal (or its head, skin or any other body part) that the hunter keeps as a souvenir. It is a booming industry and is legal, albeit with restrictions on the species that can be hunted, where and when the hunting can take place, and the weapons that can be used.

Killing method

  • Trophy hunting relies heavily on the most unfair, cruel methods including baiting, hounding, trapping, and captive hunts. These methods violate the tradition of fair-chase hunting and give human hunters, who already have the edge over their quarry, additional advantages to increase the hunters’ changes of collecting their trophies.
  • Baiting involves intensive feeding of wild animals to make them easy targets for trophy hunters waiting in a nearby blind. Bait is often placed by professional guides so they can assure their paying customers a guaranteed kill.
  • Hounding involves hunters and guides using packs of radio-collared hounds to pursue targeted trophy animals until the exhausted, frightened animals seek refuge in a tree, where they are shot, or turn to fight the hounds. Hounding results in injuries or death to both targeted trophy animals (particularly to bear cubs, cougar kittens and yearling wolf pups) and dogs and leaves vulnerable orphan young.
  • Trapping involves setting traps or snares that hold trophy animals until shot. Targeted trophy animals as well as family pets and other nontarget animals languish in these devices for hours and even days, sometimes suffering broken limbs or other painful injuries, dehydration, starvation and exposure until they are killed.

How can it be good?

  • While there are many examples of it being bad – the steepest declines in lion populations occur in countries with the highest hunting intensity, for instance – one apparently good example is quoted time and again.
  •  It is claimed that trophy hunting has played a role in the recovery of the southern white rhino population in South Africa.
  • The argument goes that by allowing private landowners to conduct limited trophy hunting they have been given an incentive to keep and protect rhinos (albeit in large fenced enclosures). There is also an argument that trophy hunting revenues help conservation by filtering back into desperately poor communities.

Is it really legal to kill endangered species?

It can be. Some countries do allow a small number of endangered species to be killed in the wild by sports hunters and, with approval from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), it is still possible to take the trophies home.

Impact on conservation

Given these data, it would seem that much of the opposition to trophy hunting derives from an animal rights perspective rather than an objective evaluation of conservation impact.

Hunting is carried out in about 1.4 million sq km in Africa, more than 22% of area covered by national parks in Africa. To increase the scope of ecotourism (the most frequently proposed revenue generation alternative) to this level seems unviable given that many of these landscapes are not conducive to tourism.

CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species)

It is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

Widespread information nowadays about the endangered status of many prominent species, such as the tiger and elephants, might make the need for such a convention seem obvious. But at the time when the ideas for CITES were first formed, in the 1960s, international discussion of the regulation of wildlife trade for conservation purposes was something relatively new.


Rethink school education {Education Policy}

(The Hindu)


Context

The shift to private education is not good. Government schools ought to be the drivers of change

In news

While India highlights its ever-improving literacy levels, educationally it is a terrible under-performer, too embarrassed to participate in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment tests covering reading and computational skills for 15-year-olds. 

Highlights

Successive studies have repeatedly established that a majority of those in each class in India have educational attainments much lower than the one they are in.

We have around a million primary schools and only half that number at the upper primary level. The number of secondary schools is less than 150,000 for a country of 1.3 billion, and even this comes down to just 100,000 at the higher secondary level.

Issue

The inexorable shift to private school education along with the Right to Education Act represents a failure of the public-school system.

 It is government schools that should be the drivers of change by becoming the first, not the last, choice of parents to send their children to.

Solution

Public-school system must be swiftly and radically revamped, while our teacher training institutions, of which the District Institutes of Education and Training constitute an important part, speedily re-jigged to turn out world-class teachers, of the kind that will encourage children to stay on in, not drop out of, school.

If only India had begun revamping school education at the start of economic liberalisation, it would by now have had the world’s largest pool of well-educated and highly trained workers.


Cities at Crossroads: Perils of plastics waste {Environment}

(Indian Express)


 Context

A sustainable way forward is to minimise consumption of single use plastic items, create awareness about the use of appropriate grade of plastic, and emphasise the importance of recycling and reuse.

PlasticImage result for plastic effect

  • Plastic is a synthetic polymer, deriving its name from the Greek word plastikos, which means “fit for moulding”.
  • It was invented in 1869 by John W. Hyatt, responding to a New York firm’s offer of $10,000 for anyone who could provide a substitute for ivory.
  • The subsequent 150 years have seen chemical companies develop many new polymers and many different types and grades of plastic.

Issue

  • This inexpensive, light, and versatile product enters our everyday lives in numerous forms ranging from bread wrapping, magazine and invitation covers, and packages of many ordinary consumption items at one end and also as part of television sets, refrigerators, cars and aircraft at the other.
  •  The problem is that plastic does not decay. It sticks around in the environment as deadweight.
  • Recycling of plastic is, therefore, extremely important, and waste management systems and product design explicitly need to facilitate plastic recycling.

Worldwide, only 14 per cent of plastic is collected for recycling, while the rest stays in the environment causing pollution both on land and in the ocean.

How plastics affect the environment

Environmentally, plastic is a growing disaster. Most plastics are made from petroleum or natural gas, non-renewable resources extracted and processed using energy-intensive techniques that destroy fragile ecosystems.

The manufacture of plastic, as well as its destruction by incineration, pollutes air, land and water and exposes workers to toxic chemicals, including carcinogens.

Plastic packaging – especially the ubiquitous plastic bag – is a significant source of landfill waste and is regularly eaten by numerous marine and land animals, to fatal consequences.

Synthetic plastic does not biodegrade. It just sits and accumulates in landfills or pollutes the environment. Plastics have become a municipal waste nightmare, prompting local governments all over the world to implement plastic bag, and increasingly polystyrene (styrofoam), bans.

Health Problems

  • In terms of health risks, the evidence is growing that chemicals leached from plastics used in cooking and food/drink storage are harmful to human health. Some of the most disturbing of these are hormone-mimicking, endocrine disruptors, such as bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates.
  • The plastic polycarbonate – used for water bottles and various other items requiring a hard, clear plastic – is composed primarily of BPA.
  •  Peer-reviewed scientific studies have linked BPA to health problems that include chromosomal and reproductive system abnormalities, impaired brain and neurological functions, cancer, cardiovascular system damage, adult-onset diabetes, early puberty, obesity and resistance to chemotherapy. Exposure to BPA at a young age can cause genetic damage, and BPA has been linked to recurrent miscarriage in women.
  • The health risks of plastic are significantly amplified in children, whose immune and organ systems are developing and are more vulnerable.  The evidence of health risks from certain plastics is increasingly appearing in established, peer-reviewed scientific journals.

 

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