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[Newsbits] 28.09.2023

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Noor 3

Iran has recently launched its Noor 3 satellite into orbit, marking another development in its space program. This military and imaging satellite follows the previous Noor 1 and Noor 2 satellites and carries significant geopolitical implications.

The Noor 3 Satellite

  • Type: Noor 3 is a military satellite with imaging capabilities.
  • Succession: It follows the previous Noor 1 and Noor 2 satellites, continuing Iran's efforts in space technology.
    • Noor 1: Launched in April 2020 but fell back to Earth in April 2022.
    • Noor 2: Launched in March 2022 and remains operational, potentially working in conjunction with Noor 3 when the latter comes online.

Significance

The launch of Noor 3 carries significant implications:

Escalating Tensions

  • The launch of military satellites by Iran raises tensions with Western nations, particularly due to concerns about the potential use of such technology in nuclear weapons development.

Western Concerns

  • Western nations, including the United States and its allies, have expressed deep concerns about Iran's satellite program. They worry that these satellites could be used for military purposes, including enhancing Iran's ballistic missile capabilities.

The Launch Mechanism

  • Noor 3 was launched into orbit using a three-stage Qasem rocket, showcasing Iran's ability to independently carry out satellite launches.

The Operators

  • Iran's Revolutionary Guards are responsible for operating the country's space program.
    • Military Infrastructure: The Revolutionary Guards maintain a parallel military infrastructure alongside Iran's regular armed forces.
    • Answer to Supreme Leader: This space program answers directly to Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran's Space Program

  • This is not Iran's first foray into space. The country successfully launched its first satellite in April 2020, demonstrating its growing space capabilities.

Orbital Details

  • Noor 3 is in orbit at an altitude of approximately 450 kilometers above Earth's surface, providing it with a vantage point for various imaging and surveillance tasks.

Hai Kun

Taiwan has achieved a significant milestone with the launch of its domestically made submarine at the Kaohsiung port. Named "Hai Kun," which literally translates to "Sea Kun," this submarine carries historical and strategic significance.

The "Hai Kun" Submarine

  • Name: The submarine is aptly named "Hai Kun," drawing its name from the Kun fish, a creature with legendary proportions found in Chinese literature.
  • Legendary Symbolism: The choice of naming it after the Kun fish carries symbolism and historical resonance, symbolizing its significance in the eyes of the Taiwanese.

Significance

The launch of the "Hai Kun" submarine is laden with multiple layers of significance:

Taiwan's First Domestically Made Submarine

  • The "Hai Kun" marks a groundbreaking achievement as Taiwan's first domestically constructed submarine. This accomplishment reflects Taiwan's growing self-reliance and capability in advanced military technologies.

A Major Breakthrough

  • The successful launch and eventual deployment of the "Hai Kun" will signify a major breakthrough for Taiwan, not only in shipbuilding but also in submarine design and manufacturing.
  • The seven-year endeavor represents a substantial investment of resources, expertise, and effort.

Response to Beijing's Threats

  • Taiwan's decision to build its submarines is a strategic response to the ongoing threats from Beijing. China has consistently opposed Taiwan's efforts to acquire submarines from foreign nations through both economic and diplomatic pressure.
  • The development of domestically produced submarines is seen as a way to bolster Taiwan's defense capabilities and reduce its dependence on external sources for military equipment.

The CSBC Corporation

  • The construction of the "Hai Kun" submarine was led by the CSBC Corporation, a Taiwanese shipbuilding company with a strong track record in maritime technology.

Timeline

  • Design and Construction: The journey from design to the successful launch spanned seven years, highlighting the complexities involved in creating a state-of-the-art submarine.
  • Future Plans: If tests and further development are successful, Taiwan plans to build another submarine. The deployment of both submarines is anticipated by 2027, signaling a significant enhancement of Taiwan's naval capabilities.

Terms associated with Green Revolution

The Green Revolution, led by agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan, marked a transformative period in India's agriculture and had a significant impact on global farming practices.

M.S. Swaminathan

  • Agricultural Scientist: Dr. M.S. Swaminathan was a renowned agricultural scientist and a pivotal figure in the Green Revolution in India.
  • Father of the Green Revolution in India: Dr. Swaminathan is often referred to as the "Father of the Green Revolution" in India.
  • Passing Away: Sadly, Dr. Swaminathan recently passed away, leaving behind a profound legacy in agriculture.

Harvest Index

  • Quantifies Crop Yield vs. Biomass: The harvest index is a metric that quantifies the ratio of crop yield (typically grains) to the total biomass produced by a plant.
  • Ratio of Grain to Shoot Dry Matter: It represents the proportion of energy directed towards seed production compared to other plant structures.
  • Measure of Reproductive Efficiency: A high harvest index indicates greater reproductive efficiency in a crop, with more energy directed towards producing seeds.
  • Determined by: The harvest index is influenced by various factors, including crop genotypes, environmental conditions, and crop management practices.

IR8

  • High Yielding Variety (HYV) Crop: IR8 is a high-yielding variety of rice that was developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
  • Productivity: It significantly increased rice productivity, yielding seven tonnes per hectare compared to traditional rice varieties, which produced only two tonnes per hectare.
  • Miracle Rice: IR8, often referred to as "miracle rice," was introduced in the Philippines. It was developed by crossing two strains: Peta, a tall high-yielding strain from Indonesia, and Dee-Geo-woo-gen, a sturdy dwarf variety from China.
  • Other HYVs in India: The Green Revolution in India also witnessed the introduction of high-yielding varieties like Kalyan Sona and Sonalika for wheat production. These varieties exhibited good chapati-making quality, amber grains, and high yield potential. Additionally, Mexican dwarf wheat varieties were initially rejected in India due to their red color.

Yield Gap

  • Difference Between: The yield gap represents the disparity between the potential yield of a crop under ideal conditions and the actual realized yield obtained by farmers.
  • Green Revolution Focus: During the Green Revolution, a primary goal was to narrow the yield gap by increasing agricultural productivity through the adoption of high-yielding varieties (HYVs). This approach aimed to address the looming threat of famine.

Cytogenetics

  • Study of Chromosomes and Hereditary Traits: Cytogenetics is the scientific field that focuses on the study of chromosomes and hereditary traits in organisms.
  • Applications: In agriculture, cytogenetics plays a crucial role in identifying desirable traits in crops, such as resistance to diseases, drought resistance, and pest resistance.

Hexaploid Wheat

  • Scientific Name: Hexaploid wheat is scientifically known as Triticum aestivum.
  • Chromosome Sets: This variety of wheat contains six sets of chromosomes, making it hexaploid in nature.
  • Widely Cultivated Cereal: Hexaploid wheat, often referred to as bread wheat, is one of the most widely cultivated cereal crops globally.
  • Dr. Swaminathan's Research: Dr. Swaminathan conducted significant research in the field of cytogenetics, particularly focusing on hexaploid wheat.

Carbon Fixation

  • Process: Carbon fixation is the process by which crops capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and convert it into organic compounds, primarily through photosynthesis.
  • C3 and C4 Classes: Different types of plants use different carbon fixation pathways, such as C3 (Calvin cycle) and C4 (Hatch and Slack pathway). C4 plants, including certain crops, are known for their more efficient carbon fixation process.
  • Research on C4 Rice: Research on developing C4 rice plants, which utilize a more efficient carbon fixation pathway, began at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) under the leadership of Dr. Swaminathan during his tenure as Director General.

International Cooperation Narrative Change

  • 2021 Report: The 2021 report emphasized an unprecedented level of international cooperation in addressing global agricultural challenges. It did not specifically outline the financial barriers faced by developing countries.
  • 2023 Report: The 2023 report shifted its emphasis to highlight the high cost of capital in emerging markets and developing economies, resulting in disproportionate investments in advanced economies and China.

COP 28

  • 28th Conference of Parties (COP 28): COP 28 refers to the 28th meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It is scheduled to take place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
  • Global Stocktake Report: Discussions at COP 28 will include a review of the Global Stocktake Report, influenced by findings from the 2023 IEA report. This report indicates that progress toward achieving the 1.5°C target is off track and raises concerns about climate-related developments, including the approval of the Rosebank oilfield development in the UK.

Significance

  • Time Crucial: Given the upcoming COP 28 and the pressing need to address climate change and food security, the terms and concepts associated with the Green Revolution continue to be of utmost importance in the global agricultural landscape.

Update to Net Zero Roadmap

The release of the update to the "Net Zero Roadmap: A Global Pathway to Keep the 1.5°C Goal in Reach" report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in 2023 has brought important insights and changes to the ongoing efforts to combat climate change. This update emphasizes the critical need for sustainable practices, renewable energy sources, and global cooperation to achieve net-zero emissions and restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Sustainable Marine Fuels

One of the key highlights of the update is the emphasis on sustainable marine fuels, specifically renewables like ammonia and methanol. These fuels are deemed suitable for newer ships equipped with dual-fuel engines. To be considered sustainable, these fuels must achieve zero or near-zero carbon dioxide equivalent emissions on a life-cycle 'well-to-wake' basis, taking into account production, delivery, use, and emissions associated with land use changes. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) plays a crucial role in regulating these fuels, with the need for supplementation by regional, national, and local regulations.

Global Carbon Emissions Statistics

The update presents statistics on global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2022, indicating a 1% increase from the pre-pandemic level, reaching 37 billion tonnes. Factors contributing to this increase include post-pandemic economic recovery, energy insecurity driven by geopolitical tensions, and increased investment in new fossil fuel projects. The report predicts that global carbon emissions will peak in this decade, with a focus on restricting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Specifics of the 2023 IEA Report

  • Renewable Energy Capacity: The report envisions tripling renewable energy capacity to 11,000 gigawatts by 2030, supported by G7 and G20 countries, the Petersberg Climate Dialogue 2023, and the European Union.
  • Oil Demand: The update forecasts a drop in oil demand to 77 million barrels per day (mb/d) by 2030 and 24 mb/d by 2050, with a peak in demand expected by 2030.
  • Methane Emissions: There is a call for a 75% reduction in methane emissions by 2030, primarily in oil and natural gas operations, requiring an investment of $75 billion, equivalent to 2% of net income in 2022.
  • Clean Energy Investment: Significant investments in emerging markets and developing economies are anticipated, reaching $4.5 trillion by the early 2030s and $4.7 trillion by 2050, compared to $1.6 trillion in 2022.
  • Concessional Funding: The report suggests providing $80-100 billion in concessional funding annually by the early 2030s, with a focus on Africa (45%), India, and Latin America (15% each).
  • Nationally Determined Contributions: The update calls for more ambitious nationally determined contributions (NDCs) in alignment with the Paris Agreement, including the adoption of absolute reduction targets by high-income, higher-emitting countries.
  • Electricity Infrastructure: The report recommends the expansion of transmission and distribution grids, with the goal of adding two million kilometers each year until 2030.
  • Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage (CCUS): The role of CCUS is revised due to limited progress, emphasizing its importance in reducing emissions from heavy industries.

Change in International Cooperation Narrative

The update highlights a shift in the narrative regarding international cooperation. While the 2021 report emphasized an unprecedented level of cooperation, the 2023 report underscores the high cost of capital in emerging markets and developing economies, which leads to disproportionate investments in advanced economies and China.

COP 28

The report's significance is underscored by the upcoming 28th Conference of Parties (COP 28) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. During this event, discussions will revolve around the Global Stocktake Report, which has been influenced by the findings of the 2023 IEA report. The Global Stocktake Report indicates that progress toward achieving the 1.5°C target is off track, raising concerns.

Review of Maritime Transport 2023

The "Review of Maritime Transport 2023" is the latest flagship report released by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), marking its annual tradition that began in 1968. This comprehensive report delves into the structural and cyclical changes impacting seaborne trade, ports, and shipping, while also providing crucial statistics about maritime trade and transport.

Key Highlights

Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG)

  • GHG emissions in 2023 are a staggering 20% higher than they were a decade ago, indicating a concerning trend in the shipping industry.

Contribution of Shipping Industry

  • The shipping industry plays a pivotal role, contributing to over 80% of the world's trade volume.
  • It is also responsible for nearly 3% of global GHG emissions, highlighting its environmental impact.

COVID-19 Impact

  • In 2022, the global maritime shipping industry experienced a 0.4% drop in shipping volumes, mainly due to supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Projections

  • The report forecasts a 2.4% growth in the maritime shipping industry for the year 2023.
  • Despite the setback in 2022, containerized trade is expected to grow by 1.2% in 2023, with further growth projected at 3% between 2024 and 2028.
  • Oil and gas trade saw robust growth in 2022, driven by geopolitical events, leading to a revival in tanker freight rates.

Commercial Ships

  • As of January 2023, the average age of commercial ships is 22.2 years, with over half of the fleet being more than 15 years old.
  • UNCTAD expresses concerns about the increasing average age of the fleet and the challenges associated with transitioning to alternative fuels.

Transition to Alternative Fuels

  • The adoption of alternative fuels remains in its infancy, with only 1.2% of the global fleet using them. The majority (98.8%) still relies on conventional fuels such as heavy fuel oil, light fuel oil, and diesel/gas oil.
  • Notably, liquefied natural gas (LNG) is the primary alternative fuel, with lesser use of battery/hybrid, liquified petroleum gas (LPG), and methanol.
  • Progress is evident, with 21% of vessels on order designed for alternative fuels. Among these, LNG comprises 52.1%, battery/hybrid 39.9%, LPG 5.5%, methanol 3.4%, and hydrogen 0.3%.
  • Nearly 6% of the active fleet is already operating primarily on LNG.
  • Challenges lie ahead, as LNG is still considered a fossil fuel with issues like methane slip and well-to-tank emissions, and batteries are better suited for shorter distances.

International Maritime Organization (IMO) Initiatives

GHG Emission Target

  • The IMO has set a bold target of achieving net-zero GHG emissions from international shipping by 2050.

Uptake of Alternative Fuels

  • The 2023 IMO GHG Strategy aims for at least 5% uptake of alternative zero and near-zero GHG fuels by 2030, with an aspirational goal of reaching 10% of energy used by international shipping.

Regulatory Changes

  • Existing carbon intensity regulations for ships are under revision, with a deadline of January 1, 2026. These regulations include the Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) and the Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII), which assess operational carbon intensity based on fuel usage.
  • New regulations, known as "mid-term measures," are under development. These include the Greenhouse Gas Fuel Standard (GFS) and economic elements like carbon levies, feebate systems, or cap-and-trade. The aim is to finalize these regulations by 2025 and enforce them by 2027.

Decarbonization Challenges and Costs

  • Achieving full decarbonization could require annual investments ranging from $8 billion to $28 billion by 2050.
  • The infrastructure needed for 100% carbon-neutral fuels may demand annual investments between $28 billion to $90 billion.
  • It's important to note that full decarbonization might double yearly fuel costs, emphasizing the need for a just transition.

Economic Incentives

  • UNCTAD advocates for economic incentives, such as levies or contributions, to promote the competitiveness of alternative fuels and bridge the cost gap with conventional heavy fuels.
  • These incentives can also facilitate investments in ports, especially in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs), focusing on climate change adaptation, trade and transport reforms, and digital connectivity.

Sustainable Fuels

  • Renewable ammonia and methanol are identified as more suitable for newer ships equipped with dual-fuel engines.
  • For these fuels to be truly sustainable, they must achieve zero or near-zero carbon dioxide equivalent emissions on a life-cycle 'well-to-wake' basis, considering the full production, delivery, and usage process, as well as any associated land use changes.
  • International regulations at the IMO need to be complemented by regional, national, and local regulations to ensure the sustainability of these fuels.

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