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1.Impact of climate change on aviation sector (Down to Earth)

2.New factor deepens mystery behind children’s deaths (Down to Earth) 

 

2.Impact of climate change on aviation sector (Down to Earth) 

Synoptic line: It throws light on the repercussions of climate change over aviation sector (GS paper III)

Overview

  • Hot weather has forced dozens of commercial flights to be cancelled at airports in this summer.  This flight-disrupting heat is can be a potential warning sign.

Climate change to be a culprit

  • Climate change is projected to have far-reaching repercussions – including sea level rise inundating cities and shifting weather patterns causing long-term declines in agricultural yields. And there is evidence that it is beginning to affect the take off performance of commercial aircraft, with potential effects on airline costs.
  • National and global transportation systems and the economic activity they support have been optimized for the climate in which it all developed: Machines are designed to operate in common temperature ranges, logistical plans depend on historical weather patterns and coastal land development is based on known flood zones.
  • In the aviation sector, airports and aircraft are designed for the weather conditions experienced historically. Because the climate is changing, even fundamental infrastructure elements like airports and key economic sectors like air transportation may need to be redesigned and reengineered.
  • The effects on aviation may be widespread. Many airports are built near sea level, putting them at risk of more frequent flooding as oceans rise. The frequency and intensity of air turbulence may increase in some regions due to strengthening high-altitude winds. Stronger winds would force airlines and pilots to modify flight lengths and routings, potentially increasing fuel consumption.

How rising temperatures impact

  • High air temperatures affect the physics of how aircraft fly, meaning aircraft takeoff performance can be impaired on hot days. The amount of lift that an airplane wing generates is affected by the density of the air. Air density in turn depends mostly on air temperature and elevation; higher temperatures and higher elevations both reduce density.
  • The lower the air density, the faster an airplane must travel to produce enough lift to take off. It takes more runway to reach a higher speed, and depending on how long the airport’s runway is, some airplanes might risk running out of room before reaching sufficient speed. When this occurs, the only immediate option is to reduce the aircraft’s weight to lower its required takeoff speed by removing passengers, luggage and cargo. This is referred to as a weight restriction.
  • Global temperatures have been steadily rising for decades, and they will almost certainly continue to do so. In some regions, there is evidence that the hottest temperatures may increase at a faster rate than the average, further stacking the deck in favor of extreme heat. These hotter temperatures will reduce air density and make it much more likely weight restrictions are needed for flights taking off during the hottest parts of the day.

Economic impacts

  • On most affected flights, the amount of cargo, passengers and fuel that must be removed to allow for takeoff will usually be small – between 0.5 percent and 4 percent of the total load. That means fewer paying customers on airplanes, and less cargo on board. When those restrictions add up across the global air transport system, the costs can be significant.
  • Carrying just a fraction of a percent fewer passengers or less cargo can add up to millions of dollars in lost revenue for an airline over years of operation. That makes even small weight restrictions a concern in such a highly competitive and optimized industry. These limits could disproportionately affect long-haul flights, which require large fuel loads and often take off near their maximum weights.
  • There are ways that airlines could mitigate increasing weight restrictions. The most feasible is to reschedule some flights to cooler hours of the day – although with air traffic increasing and many airports already operating near capacity, this could prove difficult.

Way ahead

  • Many sectors of the economy, including the aviation industry, have yet to seriously consider the effects of climate change. The sooner, the better: Both airport construction and aircraft design take decades, and have lasting effects. Today’s newest planes may well be flying in 40 or 50 years, and their replacements are being designed now.
  • The earlier climate impacts are understood and appreciated, the more effective and less costly adaptations can be. Those adaptations may even include innovative ways to dramatically reduce climate-altering emissions across the aviation sector, which would help reduce the problem while also responding to it.

Question– Examine the economic and ecological implications of the climate change. How it will impact the nascent aviation Industry in India?

2.New factor deepens mystery behind children’s deaths (Down to Earth) 

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of Gorakhpur tragedy and Scrub typhus can considered as a possible cause.(GS paper III)

Overview

  • The recent incidents of Gorakhpur has led the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issue a notice to the Uttar Pradesh government over the deaths of dozens of children and others at the, With the fresh spurt in fatalities, the death toll shot up to 104 in the past week.
  • However the reason behind death has been uncertain, the peak in deaths was linked to the non-availability of oxygen at hospital. But children continue to die even now just as they were before oxygen shortage.
  • Japanese encephalitis was also consider as the possible cause, but the recent reports suggest that Scrub typhus can considered as a possible cause behind the mass children’s death. However, some experts are not fully convinced that this is the only reason.

Scrub typhus

  • Scrub typhus, a disease cause by Orientia tsutsugamushi, a rickettsial group of bacteria which is introduced in humans from the bites of the infected larvae of a certain kind of mite. People can get the infection by walking barefoot or sitting on the grass. The disease starts with a fever, along with a headache or muscle aches, and thus, it is mistaken for dengue, malaria or typhoid.
  • Gorakhpur is notorious for the brain fever epidemic that kills children every year. Those who survive develop physical and mental disabilities. Also several other districts in Uttar Pradesh, including Gorakhpur, have been witnessing brain fever for over 30 years. In 2005, more than 1,000 children succumbed to the disease.
  • According to the reports, since the late 70s when brain fever started stalking Gorakhpur, it was thought that the Japanese encephalitis virus caused the brain inflammation outbreak. But it failed to control brain fever. After that, enterovirus was blamed for the deaths.
  • Confusion can occur while diagnosing whether brain fever has been caused by the Japanese encephalitis virus or enterovirus, as initial symptoms of both are similar high fever, vomiting, unconsciousness and seizure. Now, all brain fevers have been classified under the Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES). But now scrub typhus has emerged as the possible culprit.
  • It is a re-emerging disease. Earlier, community sampling showed around 5 per cent prevalence of past infection, but now the prevalence is as high as 30 per cent. This re-emergence is visible in the rest of South East Asia too. The estimated burden of the disease in this region is around 1 million cases every year.

Encephalitis can be scrub typhus

  • Scrub typhus is present everywhere in the country and it is quite likely that it is present there too. Recent investigations have shown that around 24 per cent of patients from Gorakhpur tested positive for scrub typhus. Studies done by the National Institute of Virology earlier suggested that around 15-20 per cent of the cases in Gorakhpur are due to Japanese encephalitis.
  • Also there was a huge vaccination campaign against Japanese encephalitis and the proportion due to this disease seems to have gone down. The disease has also been linked to the presence of an enterovirus which spreads through water. It seems to be a mixture of illnesses. However, the major cause of the outbreak still remains elusive.
  • The disease caused significant morbidity and mortality during world war times and Indo-Pak conflicts. Subsequently, it became a rarity and for a long time, it remained off the radar. In the olden days patients with fever would be prescribed common antibiotics like tetracycline and chloramphenicol, which treats scrub typhus.
  • But now, the commonly used antibiotics, such as cephalosporins, are ineffective against scrub typhus. Furthermore, clearing of forests, vegetation, increasing rodent population, which is the alternate host for the pathogen, as well as climate change, could be additional factors contributing to the re-emergence.

Way ahead

  • Though awareness about the disease is more than before sothat it can be diagnosed early and treated appropriately, but we still have a long way to go.
  • The government should not ignore science and make actual efforts to identify the cause behind the deaths. It can no longer ignore it, as the lives of children depend upon urgent government action.

Question– Recent hospital tragedies in Gorakhpur indicates a larger crisis unfolding. Discuss.