Q. Consider the following statements:

  1. Asiatic lion is naturally found in India only.
  2. Double-humped camel is naturally found in India only.
  3. One-horned rhinoceros is naturally found in India only.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: (a) 1 only

  • Asiatic lions are slightly smaller than African lions.
    • At present Asiatic lions are naturally found in India only in Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • The greater one-horned rhino is not naturally only found in India but also found in southern Nepal, in riverine (floodplain) grasslands and adjacent woodland.
  • The double-hump camel is not naturally found in India and is a native of Gobi desert and is also found in the cold-desert areas across Mongolia, India (Ladakh), China, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and parts of Afghanistan

Q. In the context of which of the following do some scientists suggest the use of cirrus cloud thinning technique and the injection of sulphate aerosol into stratosphere?

(a) Creating the artificial rains in some regions

(b) Reducing the frequency and intensity of tropical cyclones

(c) Reducing the adverse effects of solar wind on the Earth

(d) Reducing the global warming

Answer: (d) Reducing the global warming

  • Cirrus clouds, which are at a height of 10 km above the Earth’s surface.
  • Cirrus clouds also trap the heat, thinning them could cool down the Earth system. 
  • Thinning of cirrus clouds could be achieved by injecting ice nuclei (such as dust) into regions where cirrus clouds form, making the ice crystals bigger and reducing the cirrus optical depth.
  • Thinning of the clouds could allow more heat to escape into space, thereby cooling the planet.
  • The stratospheric aerosol injection could limit rising temperatures that are causing climate change.

Q. In the context of which one of the following arc the terms ‘pyrolysis and plasma gasification’ mentioned?

(a) Extraction of rare earth elements

(b) Natural gas extraction technologies

(c) Hydrogen fuel-based automobiles

(d) Waste-to-energy technologies

Answer: (d) Waste-to-energy technologies

  • Pyrolysis is a process of chemically decomposing organic materials at elevated temperatures in the absence of oxygen.
    • The process typically occurs at temperatures above 430 °C and under pressure.
    • It is commonly used to convert organic materials into a solid residue containing ash and carbon, small quantities of liquid and gases.
  • Plasma gasification is an extreme thermal process using plasma which converts organic matter into a syngas (synthesis gas) which is primarily made up of hydrogen and carbon monoxide.
    • It is used in commercial use as a waste-to-energy system that converts municipal solid waste, tires, hazardous waste, and sewage sludge into synthesis gas (syngas) containing hydrogen and carbon monoxide that can be used to generate power.

Q.Which of the following are in Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve?

(a) Neyyar, Peppara and Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuaries; and Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve

(b) Mudumalai, Sathyamangalam and Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuaries; and Silent Valley National Park

(c) Kaundinya, Gundla Brahmeswaram and Papikonda Wildlife Sanctuaries; and Mukurthi National Park

(d) Kawal and Sri Venkateswara Wildlife Sanctuaries; and Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve

Answer: (a) Neyyar, Peppara and Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuaries; and Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve

  • Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve is a unique genetic reservoir of cultivated plants.
  • It is located in the Western Ghats in the southern India.
  • Three wildlife sanctuariesShendurney, Peppara and Neyyar, are located in the site, as well as the Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger reserve
  • It hosts one of the most diverse ecosystems in peninsular India and constitutes an important biogeographical ‘hot spot’ within the Western Ghats.

Q. Consider the following statements:

  1. Some species of turtles are herbivores.
  2. Some species of fish are herbivores.
  3. Some species of marine mammals are herbivores.
  4. Some species of snakes viviparous.

Which of the statements given above arc correct?

(a) 1 and 3 only
(b) 2, 3 and 4 only
(c) 2 and 4 only
(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

Answer: (d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

  • Green sea turtleseat seagrasses and algae, though juveniles snack on crabs, sponges, and jellyfish.
    • In the wild, they can live up to 80 years and grow up to five feet long.
    • Once mature, it is the only sea turtle that is strictly herbivorous.
    • The jaw structure of many species indicates their diet.
  • Herbivorous fishes are fishes that eat plant material.
    • Surgeonfish and Parrotfish are algae eaters.
    • They obtain the algae by ripping small chunks of coral from a reef.
    • Many other herbivores thrive among the fish population.
    • Other herbivores include the Japanese angelfish, yellow bloth-rabbit fish, and tilapia.
  • Marine herbivores are found within four groups of species in the animal kingdom — invertebrates, fish, reptiles and mammals — and include zooplankton, mollusks, the green sea turtle, the marine iguana and some fish species.
    • Manatees and dugongs are the only herbivores among marine mammals. Their diet consists of water grasses, weeds, and algae. 
  • Snakes are reptiles, and most species of snakes will follow the general rules of reptilian reproduction — the mother will lay a clutch of eggs that will hatch into baby snakes.
    • Such snakes are referred to as oviparous.
    • A few exceptional species of snakes diverge from this general rule. They are referred to as viviparous, and they give birth to live young.
    • Both oviparous and viviparous snakes have uteri, or wombs; however, only viviparous snakes form placental attachments between their uteri and the developing fetuses.
    • Boa constrictors and green anacondas are two examples of viviparous snakes, meaning they give birth to live young with no eggs involved at any stage of development. 

Q. Consider the following pairs

Wildlife —- Naturally found in

  1. Blue-finned Mahseer – Cauvery River
  2. Irrawaddy Dolphin – Chambal River
  3. Rusty-spotted Cat – Eastern Ghats

Which of the pairs given correctly matched?

(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: (c) 1 and 3 only

  • In the river Cauvery, the Mahseer community comprises a “blue-finned” and an “orange-finned, hump-backed” fish.
    • While it is not yet known whether these are distinct species or 2 different phenotypes, evidence suggests that the hump-backed phenotype is endemic to the river, whereas the blue-finned phenotype was introduced in the 1980s.
  • Irrawaddy Dolphin is a critically endangered species.
    • They are found in coastal areas in South and Southeast Asia, and in three rivers: the Ayeyarwady (Myanmar), the Mahakam (Indonesian Borneo) and Mekong.
    • In India, it is found in Lake Chilika and not the Chambal river.
  • Rusty Spotted Cat is one of the world’s smallest feline.
    • In India, it was long thought to be confined to the south, but records have established that it is found over much of the country.
    • It was observed in eastern Gujarat’s Gir National Park, in Maharashtra’s Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve and along India’s Eastern Ghats.
    • This cat is nocturnal by nature.
    • This little carnivore survives on insects, birds and rodents.
    • Its survival is being threatened due to the loss of its habitat.

Q. Why is there a great concern about the ‘microbeads’ that are released into environment?

(a) They are considered harmful to marine ecosystems.

(b) They are considered to cause skin cancer in children.

(c) They are small enough to be absorbed by crop plants in irrigated fields.

(d) They are often found to be used as food adulterants.

Answer: (a) They are considered harmful to marine ecosystems.

  • Microbeads are manufactured solid plastic particles of less than one millimeter in their largest dimension.
  • They are most frequently made of polyethylene but can be of other petrochemical plastics such as polypropylene and polystyrene.
  • They are used in exfoliating personal care products, toothpastes and in biomedical and health-science research.
  • Microbeads can cause plastic particle water pollution and pose an environmental hazard for aquatic animals in freshwater and ocean water.
  • In the US, the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 phases out microbeads in rinse off cosmetics by July 2017. The Netherlands was the first country to ban cosmetic microbeads in 2014.
  • Microbeads are washed down the drain, can pass unfiltered through the sewage treatment plants and make their way into rivers and canals, resulting in plastic particle water pollution.
  • A variety of wildlife, from small fish, amphibians and turtles to birds and larger mammals, mistake microbeads for their food source.
  • This ingestion of plastics introduces the potential for toxicity not only to these animals but to other species higher in the food chain.
  • Greenpeace refers to it as a “toxic time bomb”. Once in the marine environment microplastics can both release and absorb toxins, which can then move throughout the foodchain.

Q. Recently, there was a growing awareness in our country about the importance of Himalayan nettle (Girardinia diversifolia) because it is found to be a sustainable source of

(a) anti-malarial drug

(b) biodiesel

(c) pulp for paper industry

(d) textile fibre

Answer: (d) textile fibre

  • Girardinia diversifolia (Himalayan nettle), a fibre-yielding plant, has become an important livelihood option for people living in the remote mountainous villages of the Hindu Kush Himalaya.
  • There is a community in Khar, a hamlet in Darchula district in western Nepal, which produces fabrics from Himalayan nettle.
  • The fabric and the things made from it are sold in local as well as national and international markets as high-end products.
  • There are various uses of Girardinia diversifolia (Himalayan nettle). They are as follows:
    • It is largely used in traditional medicine for the treatment of several diseases such as gastric disorders, chest pain, rheumatism, tuberculosis, headache, joint aches, diabetes, asthma, gastritis, headache, joint pain, tuberculosis, gonorrhea and delivery problems.
    • Other traditional uses are related to the treatment of bone fracture, internal injury and blood purification.
    • It is also famous for the uses of the bast fiber of its bark, for making varieties of clothing, ropes, mats, sacks and other domestic implements. In this context, it is one of the most important non-timber forest products used for income generation among rural communities in the Himalaya region of Nepal for their livelihood.
    •  Young leaves and inflorescences are cooked as a green vegetable. Roasted seeds are consumed as pickle.
  • At the 5th International Herbal Trade Fair held in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, nettle products from Khar caught the attention of some of the state’s highest dignitaries as well as locals and tourists.
  • Locals were mesmerised by the idea of producing valuable fabric with something that grows abundantly in local surroundings.
  • They were keen on learning about nettle processing and applying the same technique to yield fabric from the Himalayan nettle, locally pronounced as “bicchoo ghas” in their area.
Himalayan nettle
Himalayan nettle

Q. Which of the following statements are correct about the deposits of ‘methane hydrate’?

  1. Global warming might trigger the release of methane gas from these deposits.
  2. Large deposits of ‘methane hydrate’ are found in Arctic Tundra and under the seafloor.
  3. Methane in atmosphere oxidizes to carbon dioxide after a decade or two.

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: (d) 1, 2 and 3

  • Large but poorly known amounts of methane are trapped in the sediments beneath the sea floor frozen into a form of water ice is called methane hydrate.
  • Methane hydrate is an “ice” that only occurs naturally in subsurface deposits where temperature and pressure conditions are favourable for its formation.
  • Four earth environments have the temperature and pressure conditions suitable for the formation and stability of methane hydrate. These are:
    1. sediment and sedimentary rock units below Arctic permafrost;
    2. sedimentary deposits along continental margins;
    3. deep-water sediments of inland lakes and seas; and,
    4. under Antarctic ice.
  • At low temperatures the methane hydrates on the sea floor are stable, but if the water and the sea floor become warmer, then the hydrates can break down. The microorganisms present there then oxidises the resulting methane gas to form the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2).
  • Thus, owing to melting of iceglobal warming might trigger the release of methane gas from these deposits hence having a significant impact in climate change.
  • Methane is relatively short-lived in the atmosphere; a molecule of methane is oxidized to water and carbon dioxide within a decade or so, mainly by reaction with another trace gases.
  • Thus, there is concerted effort to reduce methane emissions in order to reduce the greenhouse effect. 

Q. Consider the following:

  1. Carbon monoxide
  2. Methane
  3. Ozone
  4. Sulphur dioxide

Which of the above are released into atmosphere due to the burning of Crop/Biomass residue?

(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2, 3 and 4 only
(c) 1 and 4 only
(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

Answer: (d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

  • Biomass is organic material that comes from plants and animals, and it is a renewable source of energy.
  • Agricultural crop/ biomass residue burning contribute towards the emission of greenhouse gases, air pollutants, particulates matter and smoke thereby posing threat to human health.
  • Burning crop residues are cheap and easiest method to dispose the leftover crop residues after harvesting, for land clearing and pest control.
  • Biomass contains stored energy from the Sun. Plants absorb the Sun’s energy in a process called photosynthesis. When biomass is burned, the chemical energy in biomass is released as heat.
  • Crop residue and biomass burning (forest fires) is considered as a major source of Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Methane (CH4), volatile organic compounds (VOC), and Nitrogen Oxides (NOX).
  • Burning of rice crop residue releases Suspended Particulate Matter, SO2, NO2 and O3 in the atmosphere.

Q. In India, the use of carbofuran, methyl parathion, phorate and triazophos is viewed with apprehension. These chemicals are used as

(a) pesticides in agriculture

(b) preservatives in processed foods

(c) fruit-ripening agents

(d) moisturising agents in cosmetics

Answer: (a) pesticides in agriculture

  • Recently, in May 2019 in order to promote organic farming in the state of Kerala, the state Agriculture Department had ordered a ban on the use of various toxic pesticides used in agriculture. 
  • During this period the Kerala Agriculture University was asked to provide alternatives to the banned pesticides, which include carbofuran, phorate, methyl parathion, monocrotophos, methyl demethon, prophenophos and triazophos.
  • The Kerala Agriculture University suggested less hazardous pesticides, like acephate, carbaryl, dimethoate and flubendiamide.

Q. Consider the following statements:

  1. Under Ramsar Convention, it is mandatory on the part of the Government of India to protect and conserve all the wetlands in the territory of India.
  2. The Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010 were framed by the Government of India based on the recommendations of Ramsar Convention.
  3. The Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010 also encompass the drainage area or catchment regions of the wetlands as determined by the authority.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: (c) 3 only

  • Ramsar Convention was signed in 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar and is one of the oldest inter-governmental accord for preserving the ecological character of wetlands.
  • Article 4 of the Ramsar Convention states that “Each Contracting Party shall promote the conservation of wetlands and waterfowl by establishing nature reserves on wetlands, whether they are included in the List or not, and provide adequately for their wandering.” It is not mandatory on the part of the Government of India to protect and conserve all the wetlands in the territory of India.
  • Wetlands refer to the transitional areas between the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
  • The Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010 was notified by the Ministry of Environment and Forest to ensure better conservation and management and to prevent degradation of existing wetlands in India. However, it was not framed on the basis of recommendation of Ramsar Covention.
  • Its objectives were wetland conservation, wetland protection, and wetland management to ensure that no further degradation of wetlands takes place in India.
  • As per Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010, a “wetland” means an area or of marsh, fen, peatland or water; natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water, the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres and includes all inland waters such as lakes, reservoir, tanks, backwaters, lagoon, creeks, estuaries and manmade wetland and the zone of direct influence on wetlands that is to say the drainage area or catchment region of the wetlands as determined by the authority.

Q. Consider the following statements:

  1. Agricultural soils release nitrogen oxides into environment.
  2. Cattle release ammonia into environment.
  3. Poultry industry releases reactive nitrogen compounds environment.

Which of the statements given above is/arc correct?

(a) 1 and 3 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 2 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: (d) 1, 2 and 3

  • Nitrogen particles make up the largest fraction of PM 2.5, the class of pollutants closely linked to cardiovascular and respiratory illness, says the first-ever quantitative assessment of nitrogen pollution (Indian Nitrogen Assessment) in India.
  • Besides, the Indian Nitrogen Assessment has also released other data regarding nitrogen. They are as follows:
  • Agricultural soils contributed to over 70% of N2O emissions from India in 2010, followed by waste water (12%) and residential and commercial activities (6%).
  • Cattle account for 80% of the ammonia production, though their annual growth rate is 1%, due to a stable population.
  • The poultry industry, on the other hand, with an annual growth rate of 6%, recorded an excretion of reactive nitrogen compounds of 0.415 tonnes in 2016.

Q. What is common to the places known as Aliyar, Isapur and Kangsabati?

(a) Recently discovered uranium deposits

(b) Tropical rain forests

(c) Underground cave systems

(d) Water reservoirs

Answer: (d) Water reservoirs

  • Aliyar, Isapur and Kangsabati are the names which have water reservoir common to them.
  • The Aliyar reservoir is a reservoir located in Aliyar village near Pollachi town in Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu. The dam is located in the Anaimalai Hills of the Western Ghats.
  • The Isapur Dam is an earth-fill dam on the Penganga river in the Hingoli district of Maharashtra.
  • The Kangsabati Reservoir Project was started in 1956 as part of the Indian Second Five-year Plan to provide water in the districts of Midnapur, Bankura, and Hooghly. It involves irrigation of land using water from the Kangsabati River, as well as the Shilabati and the Bhoirobbanki rivers

Q. In the context of proposals to the use of hydrogen-enriched CNG (H-CNG) as fuel for buses in public transport, consider the following statements:

  1. The main advantage of the use of HCNG is the elimination of carbon monoxide emissions
  2. H-CNG as fuel reduces carbon dioxide and hydrocarbon emissions
  3. Hydrogen up to one-fifth by volume can be blended with CNG as fuel for buses
  4. H-CNG makes the fuel less expensive than CNG

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 4 only

(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

Answer: (b) 2 and 3 only

  • CNG is compressed natural gas. With natural gas mainly composed of methane, CNG emits less air pollutants (carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter) than petrol or diesel.
  • H-CNG is a blend of hydrogen and CNG, the ideal hydrogen concentration being 18%.
  • Compared to conventional CNG, use of H-CNG can reduce emission of carbon monoxide up to 70%, besides enabling up to 5% savings in fuel, tests by the Automotive Research Association of India and Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) have found.
  • H-CNG which may be used as a fuel of Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) is considered a cleaner source of fuel, more powerful and offers more mileage then even CNG.
  • The Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority (EPCA) recently recommended to the Supreme Court that Delhi’s buses switch to H-CNG within the next two or three years.
  • The Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas had also issued a draft notification, following a NITI Aayog proposal, for H-CNG as an automotive fuel.
  • However, it’s an inexpensive switch as in its report to the Supreme Court, the EPCA has estimated that to fuel Delhi’s 5,500 buses, about 400 tonnes H-CNG would be needed per day. Setting up four fuel-dispensing facilities would cost Rs 330 crore, which can be funded from the Environment Compensation Charge (ECC) fund made up of cess on commercial vehicles entering Delhi, it said. For consumers who pay Rs 42 per kg for CNG, the cost of H-CNG would not be more than Rs 43 per kg.
  • H-CNG has not yet gained worldwide currency. Trials have been held in countries such as the US, Canada, Brazil and South Korea.

Q. Which one of the following National Parks lies completely in the temperate alpine zone?

(a) Manas National Park

(b) Namdapha National Park

(c) Neora Valley National Park

(d) Valley of Flowers National Park

Answer: (d) Valley of Flowers National Park

  • Alpine Forests are at an altitude ranging between 2,500 to 3,500 metres.
  • The temperate zone mainly lies between the tropics and the Polar Regions.
  • Temperate zone is characterized by broadleaf and coniferous forests.
  • The temperate zone has forests of oaks, maples, rhododendrons, and birch.
  • Manas National Park – 
    • It is situated on the bank of the river Manas.
    • It is located in Assam and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
    • It is situated at an altitude of about 61 – 110 metres above mean sea level.
  • Valley of Flowers National Park – 
    • It is situated at an altitude of about 3352 to 3658 meters above sea level and so lies completely in the temperate alpine zone.
    • It is located in the state of Uttarakhand.
  • Neora Valley National Park – 
    • It is located in the state of West Bengal.
    • Its altitude varies from 183 – 3,200 metres.
  • Namdapha National Park – 
    • It has an altitudinal variation of 200m to 4,500m.
    • It is located in the state of Arunachal Pradesh.