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Stay informed with relevant current affairs from trusted sources like The Hindu, Indian Express, PIB, and more. Our daily news analysis includes Prelims Facts and Important Editorials presented in a concise and bulletised format. Get free daily updates up to 4 P.M. (except Sundays). Don’t miss the Daily Revision Quiz to reinforce your knowledge. Good luck!
Here are the topics covered for 1st December 2023:
GS-3: Marine Life and Ocean Warming, Dollarisation, Casgevy Therapy , Plant-to-Plant Warning Signals
Fact for Prelims: Global Energy Monitor (GEM), Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)
Marine Life and Ocean Warming
- A recent study in the journal \’Trends in Ecology and Evolution\’ emphasizes the impact of climate change on oceans, leading to the warming of ocean temperatures.
- This warming results in a phenomenon known as tropicalisation, affecting marine biodiversity and ecosystems.
About Ocean Warming:
- Ocean warming is caused by the absorption of excess heat from greenhouse gas emissions, mainly carbon dioxide. This warming has various impacts on marine life, including coral bleaching, sea level rise, and disruptions to marine food webs.
Impact of Ocean Warming:
- Climate change causes tropical species to expand their range, while temperate species retract.
- It Alters ocean ecosystems, and biodiversity, and potentially impacts the global economy.
Species Dispersal due to Climate Change:
- Changes in ocean currents facilitate the movement of species, affecting their feeding and social behaviours.
Evolution of New Traits:
- Changes in species interactions can lead to the evolution of new traits or behaviours.
Ocean Warming Causes:
- Greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels and deforestation.
- Carbon dioxide absorption by oceans.
- Changes in solar radiation.
Impact on Biodiversity:
- Ocean warming contributes to coral bleaching, sea level rise, disruption of marine food webs, and ocean acidification.
- The global shift in marine species due to climate-induced tropicalisation, as seen in the Mediterranean, highlights the urgency of climate mitigation.
- Ocean warming poses threats to biodiversity, coastal communities, and economies. Urgent global efforts are crucial to preserve ocean health and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
- Argentina, facing severe inflation and economic challenges, contemplates dollarisation as a potential remedy. The recently elected President aims to replace the Argentine Peso with the United States Dollar (USD).
- Dollarisation is the adoption of the United States Dollar as the primary currency in a country, either replacing or supplementing the local currency, a move that can stabilize inflation, enhance trade opportunities, and encourage long-term planning.
Challenges and Benefits of Dollarisation:
- Potential to curb hyperinflation by introducing a stable currency.
- Builds confidence in the economy, fostering investment and consumer spending.
Enhanced Trade Opportunities:
- Incentivizes export-oriented strategies.
- Stable currency attracts foreign investors, promoting foreign trade.
- A stable dollar value facilitates better long-term economic planning.
- Businesses can make accurate forecasts without being hindered by domestic currency volatility.
Reduced Speculative Risks:
- Mitigates risks associated with fluctuating exchange rates.
- Attracts foreign investors, promoting capital inflow and economic growth.
- Forces reliance on fiscal policies for economic stability.
- Encourages prudent fiscal management, curbing government overspending.
- Limits a country\’s ability to manage monetary policy independently.
- Loss of control over money supply and interest rates.
Economic Shock Vulnerability:
- Fixed currency makes economies vulnerable to external shocks.
- Lack of flexibility in adjusting exchange rates.
Limited Export Competitiveness:
- Loss of control over the exchange rate restricts the use of devaluation for export competitiveness.
Inability to Address Internal Imbalances:
- May not address internal structural issues within the economy.
- Dependency on a foreign currency might overshadow the need for internal reforms.
- De-dollarisation refers to reducing reliance on the US dollar in a country\’s financial system or economy.
- Governments pursue this for reasons like mitigating the impact of US monetary policy, asserting economic sovereignty, or seeking independence in global finance.
Strategies for De-dollarisation:
- Includes diversifying currency reserves, promoting alternative currencies in trade agreements, establishing currency swap agreements, and encouraging the use of regional currencies in financial transactions.
- Dollarisation, when coupled with effective domestic policies, can lead to economic success.
- However, its success depends on nuanced policy execution, balancing stability with the need for independent economic strategies.
- De-dollarisation strategies offer countries more control and independence in global finance.
Casgevy Therapy for Sickle Cell Disease
- The UK Drug Regulator\’s recent approval of the gene therapy, Casgevy, stands as a groundbreaking achievement in the treatment of sickle cell disease and thalassaemia.
- This therapy, utilizing CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology, represents a historic milestone, being the world\’s first licensed therapy of its kind and earning its innovators the prestigious Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2020.
About Casgevy Therapy:
- Casgevy employs CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing to address genetic errors related to haemoglobin, a critical protein responsible for oxygen transport in red blood cells.
- The therapy involves the precise editing of the patient\’s blood stem cells, focusing on the BCL11A gene.
- This gene plays a pivotal role in the transition from fetal to adult haemoglobin. By enhancing the production of fetal haemoglobin, which lacks the abnormalities associated with adult haemoglobin, Casgevy alleviates symptoms linked to sickle cell disease and thalassaemia.
- The treatment involves a single procedure wherein blood stem cells are extracted, edited over approximately six months, and then reintroduced into the patient through apheresis—a medical procedure involving the removal and return of specific blood components.
Sickle Cell Disease (SCD):
- A genetic blood disorder results in an abnormality in haemoglobin, causing red blood cells to adopt a sickle or crescent shape.
- Complications: Severe pain, infections, anaemia, strokes.
- Prevalence in India: Estimated 30,000-40,000 children born with SCD annually.
Types of SCD:
- HbSS (Sickle Cell Anemia): Both parents contribute abnormal haemoglobin \”S.\”
- HbSC: Combination of \”S\” from one parent and \”C\” from the other.
- HbS Beta Thalassemia: Combination of \”S\” and beta thalassemia genes.
- Similar to SCD, it causes severe anaemia due to low haemoglobin levels, requiring lifelong blood transfusions and chelation therapy.
- Symptoms: Fatigue, paleness, shortness of breath, delayed growth, facial bone deformities (severe cases).
- The approval of Casgevy opens new horizons for the treatment of genetic blood disorders, instilling hope for individuals affected by sickle cell disease and thalassaemia.
- The integration of CRISPR-Cas9 technology exemplifies the potential of innovative approaches in addressing complex medical conditions.
- The success of this therapy signifies continuous advancements in biotechnology, promising improved outcomes and an enhanced quality of life for those grappling with these challenging health conditions.
Plant-to-Plant Warning Signals
- Scientists have recently uncovered significant insights into how plants detect and respond to warning signals from neighbouring plants.
- This discovery holds promise for utilizing plant communication to enhance agricultural pest control, presenting an eco-friendly alternative to traditional pesticide use.
About Plant Communication:
- Plants, contrary to passive entities, actively communicate and coordinate responses to various threats. They can intercept damage happening to nearby plants and initiate defence mechanisms to make themselves less appealing or indigestible to potential insect attackers.
- Green Leaf Volatiles (GLVs): Plants communicate by releasing airborne chemicals known as Green Leaf Volatiles (GLVs). While humans perceive the scent of GLVs as the pleasant smell of fresh-cut grass, neighbouring plants interpret it as a warning signal indicating potential danger.
- Calcium Mediation: Calcium, a common mediator of chemical and electrical signals in biology, plays a crucial role. When insects damage plant leaves, calcium ions flood the cells, prompting the release of GLVs and initiating a defence response.
Experiment with Mutant Mustard Plant:
- Scientists conducted experiments with a mutant mustard plant to assess its response to GLVs. When exposed to air containing GLVs, the plant exhibited a glowing response under the microscope, signifying its ability to sense volatile components released by damaged plants.
Utilizing Plant Communication for Sustainable Agriculture:
- Reduced Chemical Usage: Leveraging natural plant defence mechanisms can decrease reliance on chemical interventions, leading to reduced pesticide applications, minimized environmental pollution, and healthier ecosystems.
- Enhanced Crop Resilience: Encouraging communication between plants through practices like companion planting or intercropping can bolster crop resilience against various stressors, contributing to overall crop health.
- Genetic Engineering: Genetic modification guided by an understanding of plant communication mechanisms can enhance natural defence mechanisms in crops. This may lead to the development of pest-resistant and disease-resistant crops, potentially reducing the need for external interventions.
- The revelation of plant-to-plant warning signals opens avenues for sustainable agriculture, emphasizing reduced chemical usage, enhanced crop resilience, and the potential for genetic engineering to develop robust crops.
- This breakthrough underscores the importance of exploring natural processes to address agricultural challenges, promoting eco-friendly practices for the benefit of both farmers and the environment.
Fact for Prelims:
Global Energy Monitor (GEM)
- Global Energy Monitor (GEM) is a proactive entity dedicated to supporting the global clean energy movement. With a focus on fostering awareness and understanding of the evolving international energy landscape, GEM develops and disseminates crucial information. This includes the creation of databases, reports, and interactive tools aimed at providing a comprehensive and open guide to the world\’s energy system.
- GEM\’s mission revolves around enhancing understanding and awareness of global energy dynamics. By studying and analyzing the evolving energy scenario, GEM aims to contribute valuable insights and data to the broader discourse on clean energy.
- GEM\’s impact extends to collaborations with esteemed organizations, including the International Energy Agency, the United Nations Environment Programme, the World Bank, and the Bloomberg Global Coal Countdown.
Global Coal Plant Tracker
- One of GEM\’s notable initiatives is the Global Coal Plant Tracker, an online database meticulously identifying and mapping every known coal-fired generating unit. This includes details on every new unit proposed since 2010, with a capacity of 30 megawatts and larger. Developed by GEM, the tracker utilizes footnoted wiki pages to comprehensively document each coal plant. The database undergoes biannual updates, typically around January and July, ensuring the latest and most accurate information is available.
- GEM serves as a vital resource for institutions, policymakers, and researchers, providing reliable and up-to-date information to navigate the complexities of the global energy landscape.
Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)
- The Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) serves as an independent verification printer machine, seamlessly integrated with electronic voting machines (EVMs).
- Its primary purpose is to empower voters by providing a means to confirm that their vote has been accurately registered for the chosen candidate.
- When a voter presses a button on the EVM, the VVPAT produces a printed paper slip. This slip contains essential information such as the poll symbol and the candidate\’s name, enabling the voter to visually verify their chosen preference.
- To ensure transparency, the printed ballot slip remains visible to the voter within a glass case on the VVPAT for a duration of seven seconds.
- Following this period, the ballot slip is automatically cut and securely deposited into a designated drop box within the VVPAT machine. Additionally, a confirming beep is heard, signalling the completion of the verification process.
- VVPAT machines are restricted to polling officers, maintaining the integrity of the verification system during the voting process.