The planet heats up

This piece originally appeared on Livemint.com

 

Even as the US elected Donald Trump, who had questioned climate change in the past, 2016 missed out on the distinction of being the hottest on record since 1880. It could well have been, but the temperatures cooled down in September and October, which one of the media outlets that supported Trump mistook as evidence against global warming. The reason was a retreating El Niño, an abnormal weather pattern caused by warm waters of the western Pacific Ocean flowing eastwards.

As it stands, the world is getting warmer (chart 1). While the temperature rise in 2015 and 2016 is due to El Niño, it’s not the only reason (chart 2). One of the immediate effects is the speed at which glaciers are receding (chart 3). In July, 90 million cubic yards of glacier collapsed in the Aru range in Tibet, resulting in one of the largest avalanches.

Meanwhile, a new study, published recently in Nature Geoscience, confirmed more strongly than before the link between climate change and glacial melting. In 2017, we will do well to keep track of those glaciers, and what Trump does with the Paris climate pact aimed at mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.

 

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News in Numbers: October 6: Higher education…

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73

What is it? The number of countries that have ratified the Paris climate deal.

Why is it important? This would bring the climate deal into force in thirty days as the twin criteria of at least 55 countries accounting for 55% of global emissions are met. The 73 nations account for 57% of world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Tell me more: Under the plan, countries have submitted voluntary plans to cut down on emissions and they can’t opt out of the deal for next four years. So, if Donald Trump gets elected as the next US president, the world’s second largest emitter, can’t annul the deal in his tenure.

15 million

What is it? The number of teachers required in South Asia by 2030 to meet the Sustainable Development Goal target of inclusive and equitable quality education for all, according to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Why is it important? Nearly three-fourths of the requirement is at the secondary level. Two major drivers for demand would be to keep students in the school for a longer period of time, and also to reduce student-teacher ratio to a manageable level. In South Asia, only 65% of the students are enrolled in secondary education, with student-teacher ratio of 29:1 as compared to global average of 18:1.

Tell me more: India classifies students in the age group of 11-17 years as secondary education and enrolment ratio is only 69% in this segment.

Rs 5,083 crore

What is it? The amount paid by Intas Pharmaceuticals to buy generics business of Actavis in UK and Ireland.

Why is it important? The all-cash deal is the largest outbound merger and acquisition transaction in the pharma space in 2016. The deal value represents2.4 times the turnover of Actavis’ generics business in UK and Ireland, and will increase Intas topline by a fourth.

Tell me more: Teva Pharmaceutical, an Israeli generic drug maker, acquired Allergan’s generic business for $ 40.5 billion in 2015. This deal made Teva the largest generic drugmaker in the world. Since then, Teva has been selling assets to comply with competition laws.

17.5 million

What is it? The number of applications filed under India’s Right to Information Act in the last decade. This amounts to an average of 4,800 applicants each day, according to a study by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.

Why is it important? It shows the need for government to identify commonly asked questions and make available those information in a proactive manner.

Tell me more: 27% of queries were received by the centre. Maharashtra and Karnataka received most information request applications among the states.

48

What is it? The number of communication transponders carried by Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) latest satellite, GSAT-18. The satellite was successfully launched by Ariane-5, an European launch vehicle.

Why is it important? This launch will increase India’s transponder capacity by 17%, and will help meet the growing demand for satellite television channels in India. As per ISRO estimate, 96 transponders are leased on foreign satellites by domestic broadcasters.

Tell me more: With the successful launch of the tenth flight of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, which had indigenous cryogenic engine, ISRO is aiming to launch communication satellites like GSAT-18 from India. GSAT-18 is 3,400 kgs.

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