Table of Contents
- How coastal species are living on plastic debris in the ocean
Facts for Prelims
- Mercy Petitions
- Dealing with extreme heat
- The petitions around same-sex marriage
How coastal species are living on plastic debris in the ocean
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is an area in the Pacific Ocean where plastic debris accumulates due to ocean currents, and is now inhabited by a new kind of community of organisms. Here’s what you need to know:
What is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?
- It is a collection of debris in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, located north of the equator in the Pacific Ocean.
- The patch is about 1.6 million square kilometers big and more than 50 years old.
- It contains an estimated 45,000-129,000 metric tonnes of plastic, predominantly in the form of microplastics.
- The numerical density of plastics in the patch is around 4 particles per cubic metre.
What did the new study find?
- Coastal life forms have colonized plastic items in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
- Researchers collected 105 pieces of plastic debris from the eastern part of the NPSG, “the most heavily plastic-polluted ocean gyre on the globe”.
- 98% of the debris items had invertebrate organisms, and 46 taxa were identified.
- Most of the taxa were of Northwest Pacific origin, including Japan.
Where were the organisms from?
- Nearly all taxa were of Northwest Pacific origin, including Japan.
- Most debris items (85.7%) did not have identifiable markings linked to origin, such as manufacture locations or company/brand names.
- Four items were from North America.
- The researchers found a strong positive correlation between reproduction and mobility.
What do the findings mean?
- The researchers have named the new kind of community “neopelagic community”.
- Coastal species have been found on human-made objects in the open ocean before, but the neopelagic community is different as it inhabits plastic items in the garbage patch and reproduces there.
- The findings are another example of the uniquely human influence on the planet.
- Plastic pollution is becoming one with nature in troubling new ways, such as chemically bonding with rocks and becoming a part of the sedimentary layers.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a concerning example of plastic pollution and its impact on the environment. The new study shows how this pollution is affecting not only the ocean but also the organisms that inhabit it. We must take urgent action to reduce our plastic use and clean up our planet.
The Supreme Court said that some prisoners who were sentenced to death were using long delays in deciding mercy petitions to avoid being executed. This goes against the purpose of having a death sentence.
About Mercy Petitions:
- Mercy petition is the last legal option a convict has after being sentenced by a court of law in India.
- It can be presented to the President under Article 72 of the Constitution of India or to the Governors of States under Article 161.
- The President can grant pardons, reprieves, respites, or commutations of punishment to people convicted of any offense, including the death sentence.
- The Articles have no time limit for mercy petitions and are not binding on the President or Governors.
- Under Article 72, the President can grant pardons, reprieves, respites, or commutations of punishment to people convicted of any offense by a Court Martial, offenses relating to the executive power of the Union, or a sentence of death.
- Under Article 161, Governors of States can grant pardons, reprieves, respites, or commutations of punishment to people convicted of offenses relating to the executive power of the State.
- There is no time limit given in these two Articles for Mercy Plea.
- These Articles have no binding effect on the President and the Governors of the states to accept all the Mercy Petitions.
Difference between pardoning powers of President and Governor:
- The President’s power to grant pardon extends to the cases where the sentence or punishment has been awarded by a Court Martial, but the Governor’s power prescribed doesn’t provide so.
- The President can grant pardon in all cases, including the death sentence, but the pardoning power of the Governor doesn’t extend to death sentence.
Process of making a mercy petition:
- There is no written procedure for dealing with mercy petitions, but in practice, the convict or a relative on their behalf may submit a written petition to the President.
- A convict under the sentence of death has seven days after being informed of the dismissal of their appeal by the Supreme Court to make the petition.
- The petition is forwarded to the Ministry of Home Affairs for comments and recommendations.
- The Home Ministry consults with the concerned State Government and recommends to the President or Governor for their decision.
- Both the executive heads are required to act on the advice of the appropriate government.
Dealing with extreme heat
Around 350 million Indians were exposed to strong heat stress in April and May 2022.Between 1990 and 2019, summer temperatures on average rose by 0.5-0.9°C across districts in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Rajasthan.
- It is expected that maximum temperature will rise by 2-3.5°C in 100 districts and by 1.5-2°C in around 455 districts between 2021 and 2050.
- Winter temperatures will also rise between 1°C and 1.5°C in around 485 districts.
- Due to climate change, we are likely to see April-May temperatures reaching record highs every three years.
Weather variability and consequences
- Our cities suffer from the urban heat island effect, with temperatures 4-12°C higher than rural areas.
- Weather variability has consequences, especially for agriculture, and has destroyed the majority of the cumin crop in Rajasthan.
- Heat exposure leads to a loss of 162 hours per year for laborers doing heavy work, impacting labor productivity.
- About 50% of India’s workforce is estimated to be exposed to heat during their working hours, including marginal farmers, construction laborers, street vendors, and gig economy workers.
Mitigating the problem
- Greening could help mitigate part of the problem, with a push to increase the density and area of urban forests, expanding wetlands, and restoring dead ponds/lakes.
- The urban heat island effect can be reduced by using permeable materials in construction, enhancing natural landscapes, and using cleaner cooking fuels to reduce indoor air pollution.
- Chandigarh’s urban design is a good example of climate-responsive architecture, incorporating green belts, natural greenery, and tree plantations.
- Other measures such as embracing public transportation, reducing personal vehicle usage, and reducing landfill size can also help.
- Detailed policies and guidelines on weather variability and urban heat management at various levels can help to mitigate the problem.
Impact on Agriculture and labor productivity
- Rising temperatures and weather variability have a significant impact on agriculture and crop production.
- Heat exposure has a direct impact on labor productivity, leading to losses for laborers doing heavy work.
- It is important to improve our forecasting ability, including the potential impact of heat on food production, storage, and sale.
Early action and structural infrastructure measures
- Policymakers must take mitigatory action early, especially with the potential for an El Niño-influenced monsoon that could impact marginal farmers and urban migrants.
- Structural infrastructure measures can help Indians adapt to these conditions.
The petitions around same-sex marriage
Indian Supreme Court will hear a series of petitions regarding the legal recognition of same-sex marriage. Different organizations and individuals are involved in this case, and they have presented various arguments. Here is a summary of their arguments:
- The non-recognition of same-sex marriage amounts to discrimination and is against the dignity and self-fulfillment of LGBTQIA+ couples.
- LGBTQ+ citizens form 7 to 8% of the population in India, and the legal protection available in about 15 legislations are not available to LGBTQIA+ citizens.
- Same-sex couples would make equally good parents as heterosexual parents.
Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR):
- Same-sex couples would make equally good parents as heterosexual parents.
- By denying legal status to homosexual marriages, the state is denying the legal security of dual parenthood and guardianship to the child.
- More than 50 countries allow same-sex couples to legally adopt children.
- A 2020 study by the American Sociological Review shows that academic results of children raised by same-sex parents from birth outperformed children with heterosexual parents.
The Stand of the Government:
- The idea of same-sex marriage is merely an “urban elitist view.”
- Same-sex marriage is a threat to the “holy union” of marriage between a biological man and woman in India.
- It is the Parliament, and not the courts, that has to decide on same-sex marriages.
State of Madhya Pradesh:
- Legal recognition of same-sex marriage would “seriously affect” the interests of the residents of Madhya Pradesh.
National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR):
- Same-sex marriage would violate the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act.
- The emotional problems suffered by children of same-sex couples were twice more than of children living with heterogenous parents.
- A “proper legislative system needs to be adopted regarding same-sex couples.”
Religious bodies and NGOs:
- Same-sex marriage would have a “pernicious effect” on Indian culture and society.
- The concept of same-sex marriages is “catastrophic.”
- Marriage between opposite sexes is the “basic feature” of marriage.
- The prohibition of homosexuality has been categorical from the dawn of Islam.
- Persons raised by same-sex couples are much more likely to suffer from depression, low academic achievement, unemployment, and are more likely to smoke marijuana.
- Indian society requires more time to be sensitised to accept same-sex unions and understand their impact on society.
- Same-sex marriage is “totally unnatural.”
- Laws regarding marriage must not be changed to accommodate the LGBTQ+ community.