Categories
Mains Marathon

Answered: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – March 3



1.Why would monoculture lead to soil erosion? Cite one reason. (GS 1)

मोनोकल्चर क्यों साइल एरोसिओं कराती है? एक कारण का हवाला दीजिए।

Background:

  • Monoculture is the agricultural practice of producing or growing a single crop, plant, or livestock species, variety, or breed in a field or farming system at a time.
  • Monoculture is widely used in both industrial farming and organic farming and has allowed increased efficiency in planting and harvest

Monoculture leads to soil erosion because of the following reasons:-

  • Monoculture leads to exhaustion of certain minerals from the soil making it infertile, bare and leading to soil erosion.Ground cover crops are eliminated, meaning there is no natural protection for the soil from erosion by wind and rain.
    • Nitrogen is a key nutrient in crop growth.
    • Plants, like soy, are able to “fix” nitrogen from the air back into the soil, where a crop like corn cannot.
    • If no rotation is done between nitrogen fixing plants and non-nitrogen fixing plants, the soil will be depleted of this vital nutrient.
  • Monoculture leads to loosening of soil particles thereby encouraging soil erosion.
  • Plants do not provide leaf litter mulch to replenish the topsoil, which would be eroded anyway.In some countries this means that forests are then cleared to provide new agricultural land, starting the damaging cycle all over again.
  • Herbicides and pesticides are often used on top of the fertilizers in monoculture farming. Many weeds have become resistant to these herbicides after years of application, creating “superweeds” which lead to the use of more and more lethal herbicides leading to soil erosion.
  • Soil that is nutrient deficient can be dry and susceptible to erosion. In turn, runoff pollution is very prevalent in waterways near monoculture fields

 

Way forward:

 

  • By putting permaculture practices in place, the world can combat the harmful effects modern monoculture agriculture has on the planet.Monoculture problems can be avoided altogether if organic farming methods are employed.
  • Mixed cropping,using leguminous crops help retain nutrients in the soil and with government proactive initiative like the soil health card scheme the disastrous consequences of monoculture can further be avoided .

Some facts:

  • In fact, the Earth’s soil is depleting at more than 13 percent the rate at which it can be replaced.
  • Approximately 75 percent of the world’s crop varieties have been lost over the last 100 years as the result. This time frame corresponds roughly to the beginning of monoculture farming, which is dated back to 1901.

2.What do you understand by population explosion? What are the dangerous results of population explosion? (GS 1)

आप जनसंख्या विस्फोट से क्या समझते हैं? जनसंख्या विस्फोट के खतरनाक परिणाम क्या हैं?

Population explosion:-

  • Population explosionrefers to the sudden and rapid rise in the size of human population
  • It is an unchecked growth of human population caused as a result of:
    • increased birth rate
    • decreased infant mortality rate and
    • improved life expectancy.
  • It is more prominent in under-developed and developing countries than in developed countries.
  • In the context of India, it refers to the rapid increase in population in post-Independent era.

 

Dangerous results of population explosion:

1.Economic:

  • Affects the rate of capital formation:
    • In under developed countries, rapid growth of population diminishes the availability of capital per head which reduces the productivity of its labour force.
  • Higher Rate of Population requires more Investment:
    • In economically backward countries, investment requirements are beyond its investing capacity.
    • A rapidly growing population increases the requirements of demographic investment which at the same time reduces the capacity of the people to save.
  • Unemployment:
    • A fast growth in population means a large number of persons coming to the labour market for whom it may not be possible to provide employment.

2.Social:

  • Food Problem:
    • Increased population means more mouths to feed which, in turn, creates pressure upon available stock of food. This is the reason, the under-developed countries with rapid growing population are generally faced with a problem of food shortage.
    • This leads to undernourishment of the people which lowers their productivity.
    • Deficiency of food compels to import food grains which places as unnecessarily strain on their foreign exchange resources.
  • Poverty:
    • Rapid growth of population is largely responsible for the perpetuation of vicious circle of poverty in underdeveloped countries.
  • Declines Social Infrastructure:
    • A welfare state line India is pledged to meet social needs of the people adequately and for this, the government has to spend a lot on providing basic facilities like education, housing and medical aid.
    • But rapid increase in population make burden all the more heavy.
  • Poor health:
    • If people do not get adequate food and nutrition, then they may suffer from poor health

3.Environmental:

  • Adverse Effect on Environment:
    • Rapid population growth leads to the environmental change. It leads to the cutting of forests for cultivation leading to several environmental change with polluted air, water, noise and population in big cities and towns.

4.Geographical:

  • Besides all this, the increasing population growth leads to the migration of large number to urban areas with industrialization.
  • Over-population: 
    • Population explosion may lead to overpopulation, i.e., a condition where population surges to a level that the earth cannot accommodate comfortably.

 

The advantages of adopting various birth control methods should be properly explained to common people.The problem of population explosion can be solved only by creating awareness and educating the people to control birthrates. Even though the fertility ratehave shown a decline in India with proper family planning methods and awareness thismenace can be effectively handled.

3.Can hydrogen become a major source of energy? Give reasons to support your answer. Also, list out the advantages of hydrogen as a fuel. (GS 1)

क्या हाइड्रोजन ऊर्जा का प्रमुख स्रोत बन सकता है? अपने जवाब का समर्थन करने का कारण दीजिए। इसके अलावा, एक ईंधन के रूप में हाइड्रोजन के लाभ बताएं।

Yes, Hydrogen can become a major source of energy:

  • Hydrogen can be made safely from renewable energy sources and is virtually non-polluting. It will also be used as a fuel for ‘zero-emissions’ vehicles, to heat homes and offices, to produce electricity, and to fuel aircraft.
  • Hydrogen has great potential as a way to reduce reliance on imported energy sources such as oil.
  • Though often mistaken for an energy source, hydrogen is actually an artificial fuel like gasoline that can be used to transport and store energy.
  • Supporters of hydrogen technology say it is actually a safer fuel because it’s lighter than air, which means that if it does leak out, it naturally rises up and blows away on the wind rather than pooling under a vehicle and potentially setting it on fire.
  • The Clean Energy Fund aims to finance clean energy research in India and the Green Climate Fund at international level is also targeting hydrogen as potent fuel source.

 

However there are some genuine constraints for hydrogen to become a major energy source.They are:

  • Since there is very little free hydrogen gas, hydrogen is in practice only an energy carrier, like electricity, not an energy resource.
  • Hydrogen gas must be produced, and that production always requires more energy than can be retrieved from the gas as a fuel later on.
  • Because pure hydrogen does not occur naturally on Earth in large quantities, it takes a substantial amount of energy in its industrial production.
  • The cost of production of unit of hydrogen fuel by steam reformation or electrolysis was approximately 3 to 6 times more expensive than the production of an equivalent unit of fuel from natural gas
  • Hydrogen is also not as easy to pour into a tank as gasoline.
    • It can be pumped and contained as a pressurized gas, the way we handle propane or other flammable gasses. But hydrogen needs specialized tanks, and to date there is little by way of a distribution system for it.
  • Because hydrogen is odorless and burns with a clear flame, leaks can be difficult to detect, although the gas is so light and disperses so quickly that the chance of an open explosion is considered minimal.

 

  • Once made, hydrogen is tricky to handle and distribute. Thereis still a public fear of hydrogen because of the notorious Hindenburgdisaster.

 

  • Making a clean fuel (hydrogen) from a fossil fuel (natural gas) will not solve greenhouse gas problems.Even making hydrogen by electrolysis can be environmentally iffy.

 

  • The problems of using hydrogen fuel in cars arise from the fact that hydrogen is difficult to store in either a high pressure tank or a cryogenic tank

 

  • Lot of work still needs to be done in improving the efficiency of electrolysers, which split water into hydrogen and oxygen, as well as reducing the cost of them through mass production.

 

Advantages of Hydrogen as a fuel:-

  • Hydrogen is considered as a high efficiency, low polluting fuel that can be used for transportation, heating, and power generation in places where it is difficult to use electricity.
  • In some instances, it is cheaper to ship hydrogen by pipeline than sending electricity over long distances by wire.
  • Mainly used as a fuel in the NASA space program. Liquid hydrogen is used to propel space shuttle and other rockets, while hydrogen fuel cells power the electrical systems of the shuttle. The hydrogen fuel cell is also used to produce pure water for the shuttle crew.
  • Hydrogen is one of the keys to a new energy economy that relies on solar and wind power rather than fossil fuels.

Despite the challenges, hydrogen, batteries and other alternative energy technologies all put the world on the pathway to a low carbon future, and all need greater investment. Private and public investment in hydrogen technology should be increased substantially.With inspiration from Iceland and US India can venture into using hydrogen as a fuel as well in the future.


.

Print Friendly