What is a ‘smart city’ and how it will work

PM Modi had announced his vision to set up 100 smart cities across the country soon after his government was sworn into power mid 2014. Since then a race has been on among cities to land on the list that the ministry of urban development is compiling. The 100 smart cities mission intends to promote adoption of smart solutions for efficient use of available assets, resources and infrastructure.

Basically, a ‘smart city’ is a city equipped with basic infrastructure to give a decent quality of life, a clean and sustainable environment through application of some smart solutions.

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Via – Times of India

 

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All you want to know about Solar Impulse 2

solar impulse

Solar Impulse 2, world’s first solar-powered aircraft is on its journey around the world. It made stopovers at Ahmedabad and Varanasi in India on its way to Mynamar’s Mandalay. Solar Impulse  is the first attempt to fly a plane round the world using only solar power. It’s not a non-stop flight, the plane stops in different countries. Here is all the important information you would want to know about it.

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Via – The Times of India

The 9 limits of our planet … and how we’ve raced past 4 of them

Johan Rockström says humanity has already raced past four of the nine boundaries keeping our planet hospitable to modern life.

We’ve been lucky, we humans: For many millennia, we’ve been on a pretty stable — and resilient — planet. As our civilizations developed, we’ve transformed the landscape by cutting down forests and growing crops. We’ve created pollution, and driven plants and animals extinct. Yet our planet has kept spinning along, supporting us, more or less stable and in balance. Going forward, scientists have recently proposed, all we need to do is stay within some limits, nine upper boundaries for bad behaviour.

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Human-dominated epoch started in 1610

Scientists at University College London have concluded that humans have become a geological power and suggest that human actions have produced a new geological epoch. The human-dominated geological epoch known as the Anthropocene probably began around the year 1610, with an unusual drop in atmospheric carbon dioxide, scientists say. (Anthropocene is a proposed geologic chronological term for an epoch that begins when human activities have had a significant global impact on the Earth’s ecosystems.)

Previous epochs began and ended due to factors including meteorite strikes, sustained volcanic eruptions and the shifting of the continents.

Defining an epoch requires two main criteria to be met. Long-lasting changes to the Earth must be documented. Scientists must also pinpoint and date a global environmental change that has been captured in natural material, such as rocks, ancient ice or sediment from the ocean floor.

Such a marker – like the chemical signature left by the meteorite strike that wiped out the dinosaurs – is called a golden spike.

The study authors systematically compared the major environmental impacts of human activity over the past 50,000 years against these two formal requirements.

Just two dates met the criteria: 1610, when the collision of the New and Old Worlds a century earlier was first felt globally; and 1964, associated with the fallout from nuclear weapons tests. The researchers concluded that 1610 is the stronger candidate.

The scientists said the 1492 arrival of Europeans in the Americas, and subsequent global trade, moved species to new continents and oceans, resulting in a global re-ordering of life on Earth. They argued that the joining of the two hemispheres is an unambiguous event after which the impacts of human activity became global and set Earth on a new trajectory.

The first fossil pollen of maize, a Latin American species, appears in marine sediment in Europe in 1600, becoming common over subsequent centuries. This irreversible exchange of species satisfies the first criteria for dating an epoch – long-term changes to Earth.

The researchers found a golden spike that can be dated to the same time: a pronounced dip in atmospheric carbon dioxide centred on 1610 and captured in Antarctic ice-core records. The drop occurred as a direct result of the arrival of Europeans in the Americas. Colonisation of the New World led to the deaths of about 50 million indigenous people, most within a few decades of the 16th century due to smallpox.

The abrupt near-cessation of farming across the continent and the subsequent re-growth of Latin American forests and other vegetation removed enough carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to produce a drop in CO2.

Thus, the second requirement of a golden spike marker is met, researchers said.

Disasters cost India $10bn per year: UN report

A new United Nations global assessment report on disaster risk, released last week, says India’s average annual economic loss due to disasters is estimated to be $9.8 billion. This includes more than $7 billion loss on account of floods.

The global assessment report (GAR) 2015, produced by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), has urged countries, particularly in Asia, to treat this as a wake-up call and make adequate investment in disaster risk reduction (DRR) or it will hinder their development.

“The report is a wake-up call for countries to increase their commitment to invest in smart solutions to strengthen resilience to disasters,” head of UNISDR Margareta Wahlstrom said.

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Via – The Times of India

Solar-Powered Plane Takes Off in First Round-the-World Attempt

The first attempt to fly around the world in a plane using only solar power launched on 9 March in Abu Dhabi, in a landmark journey aimed at promoting green energy.

The Solar Impulse 2, piloted by Andre Borschberg of Switzerland, took off at 7:12 am, local time, from Al-Bateen airport and headed to Muscat, the capital of Oman.

The wingspan of the one-seater plane, known as the Si2, is slightly bigger than that of a jumbo jet, but its weight is around that of a family car. The plane is powered by more than 17,000 solar cells built into wings that, at 72 metres, are longer than a jumbo and approaching that of an Airbus A380 super-jumbo. The propellor craft has four 17.5 horsepower electric motors with rechargeable lithium batteries.

It will travel at 50-100 kilometers per hour, with the slower speeds at night to prevent the batteries from draining too quickly.

The Si2 is the successor to Solar Impulse, a smaller aircraft that notched up a 26-hour flight in 2010, proving its ability to store enough power in the batteries during the day to keep flying at night.

It will make 13 stops on an epic journey spread over five months, with a total flight time of around 25 days. Its progress can be monitored via live video streaming at www.solarimpulse.com.

Budget Impact – States’ burden to run 32 of 63 schemes shoots up

State governments will now have to bear either the entire or an increased financial burden to run half the schemes being rolled with the assistance of the Centre.

At least eight centrally sponsored schemes will henceforth not get any Union finances at all while 24 schemes will see significant cuts in central share with the states having to put in money.

The eight schemes which stand de-linked from central funding are — the National e-governance plan, Backward Region Grant Funds, scheme to modernise police, another to develop export infrastructure, the scheme for setting up 6,000 model schools, the National Mission on Food Processing, the Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Empowerment Scheme and lastly, the scheme on tourist infrastructure.

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Via – tribuneindia.com