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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 10 May 2023


Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 10 May 2023


Contents

  1. Investigating dust’s impact on ocean ecosystems
  2. The UN Needs Structural Reform to Regain Relevance

Investigating Dust’s Impact On Ocean Ecosystems


Context

• The extent to which dust particles from land-based sources contribute to the maintenance of the world’s ocean ecosystems and the control of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels has been investigated in a recent study led by scientists at Oregon State University.

Relevance:

GS Paper-1: Important Geophysical Phenomena

Mains Question

Describe the scope and importance of dust’s contribution to the maintenance of the world’s ocean ecosystems and the control of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. (150 Words)


Understanding Atmospheric Dust’s Contribution to Healthy Ocean Ecosystems

  • It has been challenging to estimate the effects of soil dust particles that are carried by the wind and have an impact on Earth’s climate on ocean ecosystems.
  • Phytoplankton, however, depend on dust from land-based sources for vital nutrients, as researchers have long known.
  • In a recent study that was published in the journal Science, researchers calculated that dust deposition supported 4.5% of the annual carbon export production or sink on a global scale, with regional variations in this contribution ranging from 20% to 40%.
  • The scientists discovered that the phytoplankton’s reaction to dust deposition varied depending on where they were.
  • Phytoplankton growth and predation were more evenly matched at lower latitudes, so when dust increased growth, the new production was quickly consumed and passed up the food chain.
  • At higher latitudes, the erratic environmental conditions weakened the relationship between phytoplankton and their predators, leading to improved health and increased abundance in the phytoplankton populations.

Dust’s Role in the Carbon Cycle:

  • The biological pump is a mechanism by which the ocean contributes significantly to the carbon cycle.
  • As carbon dioxide from the atmosphere dissolves in surface waters, phytoplankton uses photosynthesis to transform the carbon into organic matter.
  • Some of this organic material sinks from the ocean’s surface to the depths, where it is trapped.

Important Findings of the Study:

  • The study advances our knowledge of the critical role dust plays in the biological pump of the ocean, which helps remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in the deep ocean.
  • The researchers discovered that, especially in some areas, dust deposition contributed significantly to the production of carbon export.
  • Scientists emphasised the biological pump’s significance as one of the most important mechanisms for regulating atmospheric carbon dioxide, which is a major driver of both global warming and climate change.
  • Policymakers can use the study’s findings to better understand how dust affects ocean ecosystems and to guide their decisions in order to safeguard and maintain these delicate systems.

Dust in the Atmosphere’s Effect on Ocean Ecosystems

  • The base of the marine food web is phytoplankton, which is dependent on dust from land-based sources for essential nutrients.
  • While the physical movement of nutrients from deep waters to the surface is the main source of essential nutrients for phytoplankton growth, atmospheric dust also plays a significant role.
  • The study demonstrates that atmospheric dust makes a significant contribution to the production of carbon export in the ocean.
  • The biological pump plays a crucial role in controlling atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and reducing the effects of global warming, so this is significant.
  • Up until now, research on how natural marine ecosystems react to atmospheric inputs has only focused on major occurrences like wildfires, volcanic eruptions, and severe dust storms.
  • The study’s conclusions offer insightful information about how dust particles affect ocean ecosystems, which can guide further investigation and conservation efforts.

Conclusion:

  • The research team is continuing this work while incorporating better modelling tools and getting ready for more sophisticated satellite data.
  • The analysis presented here shows quantifiable biological responses of the ocean to a wide dynamic range of atmospheric inputs.
  • This relationship between the atmosphere and oceans is expected to change as the planet continues to warm.
  • The study will encourage additional study in the area and aid in the formulation of better policies and informed decisions in this regard.

The UN Needs Structural Reform to Regain Relevance


Context

  • The United Nations (UN) is experiencing a crisis of relevance when it comes to resolving international conflicts and crises.
  • The UN’s current organisational and operational setup make it difficult for it to effectively address new challenges.
  • To reestablish the UN’s significance and effectiveness in world politics, structural reform is necessary.

Relevance:

GS Paper-3: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- theirstructure

Mains Question

Using contemporary conflicts like the one in Sudan as examples, talk about the UN’s importance in resolving international conflicts and crises. What elements affect the UN’s declining influence in global politics? Make suggestions for how to make the UN more effective. (250 Words).


The United Nation (UN)

  • The United Nations (UN) is an international organisation that was established on October 24, 1945, following the conclusion of World War II.It was established to take the place of the defunct League of Nations and to uphold world peace and security, encourage international cooperation, and address global issues on a global scale.
  • Membership: Nearly every recognised sovereign nation in the world is one of the UN’s 193 members. In the General Assembly, the UN’s main decision-making body, every member state has an equal voice.
  • Organisation: The UN is made up of a number of main bodies, such as the General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council, Secretariat, International Court of Justice, and specialised organisations like UNICEF, UNESCO, and WHO. The Security Council, which consists of ten rotating non-permanent members and five permanent members (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States), is primarily in charge of preserving world peace and security.
  • Goals and Principles: The UN’s main objectives include fostering social and economic development, advancing human rights, and combating global issues like poverty, disease, and climate change. Its core values include respect for human rights, sovereign equality among member states, peaceful dispute resolution, and non-interference in domestic affairs.

Relevance of the UN in Resolving International Conflicts and Crises

  • Multilateral framework: To resolve conflicts and crises on a global scale, the UN offers member states a forum for diplomatic dialogue, negotiation, and cooperation.
  • Resolving conflicts: The UN is essential in mediating and facilitating peace processes, bringing disputing parties to the negotiating table, and promoting peaceful resolutions. For instance, the UN has contributed to efforts in Sudan to end the Darfur conflict and stabilise the area.
  • Humanitarian aid: In areas affected by armed conflict, the UN organises and distributes humanitarian aid, giving those in need essential support. It sets up peacekeeping operations to safeguard civilians and aid in post-conflict recovery.

The Decreasing Role of UN

  • The UN used to be a major player in international diplomacy, but it has since devolved into a pointless non-playing character (NPC).
  • The UN Security Council has lost its effectiveness as the main forum for international decision-making.
  • Major powers’ disregard for UN opinion, as seen in Russia’s annexation of Crimea, is indicative of the organization’s diminished importance.

The proliferation of regional and bilateral initiatives:

  • In recent years, regional organisations and bilateral agreements have become more prominent in resolving conflicts and crises, frequently doing so without the involvement of the UN.
    • The importance of the UN in efforts to resolve conflicts may be weakened by these alternative frameworks.
  • Security Council impasse: The permanent members of the UN Security Council’s veto power can make it more difficult for the body to resolve disputes.
    • Political differences and disagreements among these strong countries frequently lead to inaction or watered-down resolutions.
  • Limited capacity for enforcement: The UN frequently faces challenges in carrying out its resolutions and mandates.
    • The effectiveness of the organisation may be harmed in conflicts where the consent of all parties is not obtained or where strong actors oppose UN interventions.
  • Changing Dynamics of Global Conflicts: o After foreign nationals are evacuated, global conflicts like the civil war in Sudan frequently lose international attention.
    • As seen in Syria, Myanmar, and Yemen, atrocities go unpunished until they get out of hand.
    • Certain nations and non-state actors who participate in the conflict economy frequently benefit from conflicts.
    • Conflicts between major powers are prioritised according to their immediate repercussions, leaving minor conflicts unattended.

Measures to Increase the UN’s Effectiveness:

  • Reforming the Security Council: o The Security Council needs to be reformed to make it more inclusive, representative, and reflective of the current geopolitical realities around the world.
  • In order to improve decision-making agility, this might entail increasing the permanent membership or decreasing the veto power.
  • Strengthening peacekeeping capacities: The UN should make investments to improve the skills, equipment, and resources available to its peacekeeping forces.
    • Doing so would make it possible for them to effectively safeguard civilians, uphold orders, and keep the peace in conflict-affected areas.
  • Involving regional organisations: The UN ought to actively cooperate and co-ordinate with regional organisations in efforts to resolve disputes.
    • The UN can increase its effectiveness and push for more inclusive solutions by making use of the skills and knowledge of regional actors.
  • Strengthening mediation and preventive diplomacy: The UN should prioritise and amplify these efforts in order to resolve conflicts before they worsen.
    • To do this, early engagement, fostering trust between parties, and encouraging dialogue are necessary in order to stop conflicts from starting or intensifying.
  • Securing sustainable and predictable funding: The UN needs reliable funding in order to effectively carry out its humanitarian and peacekeeping missions.
    • To ensure the sustainability of the UN, member states should honour their financial commitments and look into creative funding options.

What is the Situation Now with the Change?

  • The UN system has started making internal changes as a result of realising its waning relevance.
  • A plan for change has been put forth by the High-Level Advisory Board on Multilateralism of the Secretary-General.
  • The initiatives that have been proposed address gender equity, nuclear risk reduction, arms control, and conflict prevention.
  • Important worries about the change:
    • Despite well-intentioned proposals, changing the UN’s political structure is necessary to stop it from becoming increasingly irrelevant.
    • The current system reflects the Industrial Age’s power dynamics, which are no longer compatible with the Information Age.
    • The UN’s authority, responsibility, and accountability are incompatible, which hinders effectiveness.
    • UN diplomats have come to the conclusion that the Security Council’s reform, a key component of restructuring, is unlikely to happen.
    • Even when their survival is at stake, large organisations frequently choose more bureaucracy and complexity over bold changes.

The G20: Investing in Alternative Platforms

  • India should make investments in developing substitute global governance platforms in light of the UN’s shortcomings.
  • India’s engagement with the G20, which was established following the financial crisis of 2008, is a viable option.
  • In order to promote a new global high table, India should continue to participate and exert influence within the G20.

Way Forward:

  • The UN’s dysfunctional political structure may be impeding the effectiveness of specialised agencies like Unicef and UNHCR, which perform important work under difficult conditions.
  • The UN Secretary-General and advisors should examine restructuring proposals that are in line with the realities of the modern world.
  • Exploring the possibility of spinning off or attaching UN components to more effective international bodies could enhance their impact.

Conclusion

The future of the UN is still in doubt because it is unlikely that world leaders will give it a clear mandate for reform.Conflicts like the one in Sudan will continue unchecked without significant changes until major powers find stability in other ways.Tragically, it is unlikely that the UN’s stakeholders will support the necessary reforms, which calls for alternative forms of global governance.


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