Daily Current Affairs : 1st July 2023

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Dark patterns 
  2. Small Saving Schemes
  3. South China Sea
  5. India’s critical minerals
  6. Excessive groundwater extraction has shifted the Earth’s axis
  7. Facts for Prelims

1 . Dark Patterns

Context : Concerned over the increasing ‘dark patterns’ of misleading advertisements, creating false urgency, confirm-shaming, forced action, subscription traps and nagging on online platforms, the Union Consumer Affairs Ministry has decided to issue specific guidelines to control it.

About Dark Patterns

  • Dark patterns encompass a wide range of manipulative practices such as drip pricing, disguised advertising, bait and click, choice manipulation, false urgency and privacy concerns.
  • Dark patterns’ distort consumer autonomy using a design architecture that tricks or influences consumers to make choices not in their best interest


  • With growing penetration of Internet and rising smartphone usage in India, consumers are increasingly choosing e-commerce as the preferred mode of shopping. In such a scenario, it is essential that online platforms do not indulge in ‘unfair trade practices’ by incorporating ‘dark patterns’ which result in a harmful or undesirable outcome for the consumer

Some major types of Dark Patterns:

  • Urgency: This tactic creates a sense of urgency or scarcity to pressure consumers into making a purchase or taking an action.
  • Basket Sneaking: Websites or apps use dark patterns to add additional products or services to the shopping cart without user consent.
  • Confirm Shaming: It involves guilt as a way to make consumers adhere. It criticizes or attack consumers for not conforming to a particular belief or viewpoint.
  • Forced Action: This involves forcing consumers into taking an action they may not want to take, such as signing up for a service in order to access content.
  • Nagging: It refers to persistent, repetitive and annoyingly constant criticism, complaints, requests for action.
  • Subscription Traps: This tactic makes it easy for consumers to sign up for a service but difficult for them to cancel it, often by hiding the cancellation option or requiring multiple steps.
  • Interface Interference: This tactic involves making it difficult for consumers to take certain actions, such as canceling a subscription or deleting an account.
  • Bait and Switch: This involves advertising one product or service but delivering another, often of lower quality.
  • Hidden Costs: This tactic involves hiding additional costs from consumers until they are already committed to making a purchase.
  • Disguised Ads: Disguised ads are advertisements that are designed to look like other types of content, such as news articles or user-generated content.

2 . Small Savings Schemes

Context : The government on June 30 raised interest rates on select saving schemes by up to 0.3% for the July-September quarter in line with the high-interest rates in the banking system.

About Small Saving Scheme

  • Small Saving schemes have been always an important source of household savings in India.
  • Small savings instruments can be classified under three heads.
    • Postal deposits : Under Post Office Deposits we have the savings deposit, recurring deposit and time deposits with 1, 2, 3 and 5 year maturities and the monthly income account.
    • Savings certificates: Under Savings Certificates, we have the National Savings Certificate and the Kisan Vikas Patra.
    • Social security schemes : In the third head of social security schemes, there is Public Provident Fund, Sukanya Samriddhi Account and Senior Citizens Savings Scheme.

National Small Savings Fund

  • A National Small Savings Fund (NSSF) in the Public Account of India has been established in 1999. A new sub sector has been introduced called “National Small Savings Fund” in the list of Major and Minor Heads of Government Accounts.
  • All small savings collections are credited to this Fund. Similarly, all withdrawals under small savings schemes by the depositors are made out of the accumulations in this Fund.
  • The balance in the Fund is invested in Central and State Government Securities. The investment pattern is as per norms decided from time to time by the Government of India.
  • The Fund is administered by the Government of India, Ministry of Finance (Department of Economic Affairs) under National Small Savings Fund (Custody and Investment) Rules, 2001, framed by the President under Article 283(1) of the Constitution.
  • The objective of NSSF is to de-link small savings transactions from the Consolidated Fund of India and ensure their operation in a transparent and self-sustaining manner.
  • Since NSSF operates in the public account, its transactions do not impact the fiscal deficit of the Centre directly.
  • As an instrument in the public account, the balances under NSSF are direct liabilities and constitute a part of the outstanding liabilities of the Centre.
  • The NSSF flows affect the cash position of the Central Government.

3 . South China Sea Dispute

Context : As negotiations continue between China and the ASEAN bloc for a code of conduct in the South China Sea — which diplomatic sources described as a “complex exercise” involving 11 countries — India called for adherence to the 2016 arbitration decision in favour of the Philippines, which has been rejected by China.

About 2016 Ruling

  • On July 12, 2016, the arbitral tribunal adjudicating the Philippines’ case against China in the South China Sea ruled overwhelmingly in favor of the Philippines, determining that major elements of China’s claim—including its nine-dash line, recent land reclamation activities, and other activities in Philippine waters—were unlawful. Predictably, China reacted negatively to the ruling, maintaining it was “null and void.” China may take assertive and inflammatory steps to defend its position


  • China has been pushing its presence in the Exclusive Economic Zones of other countries while claimants are preoccupied tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting the United States to call on China to stop its “bullying behaviour”.
  • In April after Beijing unilaterally declared the creation of new administrative districts on islands in the troubled waterways to which Vietnam and the Philippines also have competing claims.
  • In early April, Vietnam’s one of the fishing boats was sunk by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel and China says that Vietnam’s claims in South China sea are illegal and “doomed to fail”.
  • Vietnam and the Philippines has now warned of growing insecurity in Southeast Asia.

ASEAN’s role in South China Sea dispute

  • One of the fundamental principles of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been to resolve disputes by peaceful means and to reach agreement by a consensus.
  • But on the issue of the South China Sea, ASEAN has been unable to formulate a consensus policy. This can partly be due to the fact that not all 10 ASEAN members are claimants to the South China Sea.
  • Members of ASEAN have overlapping claims among themselves.
  • Bilateral relations between China and some smaller ASEAN members, such as Laos and Cambodia, is also a factor.

About South China Sea

  • South China Sea is an arm of the western Pacific Ocean in Southeast Asia, south of China, east and south of Vietnam, west of the Philippines and north of the island of Borneo. Bounded by the east coast of the Malay Peninsula and the southern part of the Gulf of Thailand. 
  • Bordering states & territories : the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan), the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam.
  • The South China Sea is used by major international shipping lanes, it is the second most used sea lane in the world, due to the underdeveloped transport infrastructure of the area, the lack of modern roads and railways, the region depends heavily on ship transport.
  • The shipping lanes in the South China Sea connect East Asia with India, Western Asia, Europe, and Africa via the Taiwan and Luzon Straits in north east and the Sunda and Lombok Straits in south and the Strait of Malacca in south west.
  • It contains numerous shoals, reefs, atolls and islands. The Paracel Islands, the Spratly Islands and the Scarborough Shoal are the most important.

About the dispute

  • Dispute is over the territory and sovereignty over ocean areas, and the Paracels and the Spratlys – two island chains claimed in whole or in part by a number of countries.
  • Alongside the fully fledged islands, there are dozens of rocky outcrops, atolls, sandbanks and reefs, such as the Scarborough Shoal.

Spratlys Island dispute

  • There has been an ongoing territorial dispute between China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia concerning the ownership of the Spratly Islands archipelago and nearby geographical features like corals reefs, cays etc.
  • Since 1968, these nations have engaged in varying kinds of military occupation of the islands and the surrounding waters, with the exception of Brunei, that has contained its objections to the use of its maritime waters for commercial fishing.

Parcel Islands Dispute

  • The Paracel Islands dispute is slightly more complex. This archipelago is a collection of 130 islands and coral reefs and is located in the South China Sea, almost equidistant from China and Vietnam.
  • Beijing says that references to the Paracel Islands as a part of China sovereign territory can be found in 14th century writings from the Song Dynasty. Vietnam on the other hand, says that historical texts from at least the 15th century show that the islands were a part of its territory.
  • By 1954, tensions had dramatically increased between China and Vietnam over the archipelago. In January 1974, China and Vietnam fought over their territorial disputes after which China took over control of the islands. In retaliation, in 1982, Vietnam said it had extended its administrative powers over these islands. In 1999, Taiwan jumped into the fray laying its claim over the entire archipelago.
  • Since 2012, China, Taiwan and Vietnam have attempted to reinforce their claims on the territory by engaging in construction of government administrative buildings, tourism, land reclamation initiatives and by establishing and expanding military presence on the archipelago.

Scarborough Shoal

  • Scarborough Shoal is a rock in the South China Sea, approximately 120 nautical miles west of the Philippine island of Luzon. There are no structures built on Scarborough Shoal, but the feature is effectively controlled by China, which has maintained a constant coast guard presence at the feature since 2012.
  • It is a disputed territory claimed by the Republic of the Philippines through the 1734 Velarde map, while the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan) claim it through the internationally invalidated nine-dash line.

Nine Dash Line

  • It appeared on a Chinese map as an 11-dash line in 1947 as the then Republic of China’s navy took control of some islands in the South China Sea that had been ­occupied by Japan during the second world war. After the People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949 and Kuomintang forces fled to Taiwan, the communist government declared itself the sole ­legitimate representative of China and inherited all the nation’s maritime claims in the region. But two “dashes” were removed in the early 1950s to bypass the Gulf of Tonkin as a gesture to communist comrades in North Vietnam.
  • Line serves as the basis of China’s claim to “historical rights” in the region, as neither Beijing nor Taipei ever held effective control over the entire region encompassing more than 2 million sq km.
  • Just like LAC even Nine dash lines are also a vaguely located demarcation line 
  • In 2016 an arbitral tribunal constituted under Annex VII to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea ruled that China has no legal basis to claim “historic rights” within its nine-dash line in a case brought by the Philippines. The tribunal judged that there was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the waters or resources within the nine-dash line. The ruling was rejected by both the PRC and ROC governments.

US Stance

  • The US regards the South China Sea as international waters, and wants it to be “free” for navigation under the UN maritime law.

Importance of South china Sea

  • South China Sea is a prominent shipping passage with $5.3 trillion worth of trade cruising through its waters every year. That’s nearly one-third of all global maritime trade.
  • South China sea is rich in marine life, contributing to 10 percent of the world’s fish trade.
  • Oil and natural gas : The US Energy Information Agency estimates there are some 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves under the sea, exceeding what some of the world’s biggest energy exporters have.

Reasons for India’s interest in South China Sea

  • The SCS is located in a region of great strategic interest for India. Geographically, it connects the Indian Ocean and the East China Sea via the Malacca Straits, which is one of the busiest sea lanes in the world. Up to 97 percent of India’s total international trade volume is sea-borne, half of which, passes through the straits.
  • Energy is another component of India’s interest in the SCS. India will likely need to secure new energy sources as domestic demand rises
  • With half of its maritime trade passing through the Malacca Straits, any instability in the SCS would adversely affect the shipping lanes and have a knock-on effect on India’s economy. Similarly, should a potentially hostile power come to control this region, it could threaten India’s access to this vital waterway. 
  • India has been expanding its influence in the area through Look East Policy (LEP). 

4 . United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 

About United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 

  • Establishment: The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was adopted in 1982.  
  • Functions:
    • It lays down a comprehensive regime of law and order in the world’s oceans and seas establishing rules governing all uses of the oceans and their resources.  
    • It embodies traditional rules for the uses of the oceans and at the same time introduces new legal concepts and regimes and addresses new concerns.  
    • It also provides the framework for further development of specific areas of the law of the sea. 
  • Secretariat: The Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS) of the Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations serves as the secretariat of the Convention on the Law of the Sea. It provides information, advice and assistance to States with a view to providing a better understanding of the Convention and the related Agreements.   The Division monitors all developments relating to the Convention, and the law of the sea and ocean affairs. 
  • It reports annually to the General Assembly of the United Nations on those developments. 
  • It also assists the United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea in reviewing such developments. 
  • The United Nations General Assembly decided to develop an international legally binding instrument under UNCLOS on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (UNGA resolution 69/292). 
  • The convention set the limit of various areas, measured from a carefully defined baseline. The areas are as follows:
    • Internal waters
      • Covers all water and waterways on the landward side of the baseline. 
      • The coastal state is free to set laws, regulate the use, and use any resource.  
      • Foreign vessels have no right of passage within internal waters.  
      • A vessel in the high seas assumes jurisdiction under the internal laws of its flag State. 
    • Territorial waters
      • Out to 12 nautical miles (22 kilometres; 14 miles) from the baseline, the coastal state is free to set laws, regulate the use, and use any resource.  
      • Vessels were given the right of innocent passage through any territorial waters, with strategic straits allowing the passage of military craft as transit passage, in that naval vessels, are allowed to maintain postures that would be illegal in territorial waters.  
      • Fishing, polluting, weapons practice, and spying are not “innocent”, and submarines and other underwater vehicles are required to navigate on the surface and to show their flag.  
      • Nations can also temporarily suspend innocent passage in specific areas of their territorial seas if doing so is essential for the protection of their security. 
    • Archipelagic waters
      • A baseline is drawn between the outermost points of the outermost islands, subject to these points being sufficiently close to one another.  
      • All waters inside this baseline are designated “Archipelagic Waters”.  
      • The state has sovereignty over these waters mostly to the extent it has over internal waters, but subject to existing rights including traditional fishing rights of immediately adjacent states. 
      • Foreign vessels have the right of innocent passage through archipelagic waters, but archipelagic states may limit innocent passage to designated sea lanes. 
    • Contiguous zone
      • Beyond the 12-nautical-mile (22 km) limit, there is a further 12 nautical miles (22 km) from the territorial sea baseline limit, the contiguous zone.  
      • Here a state can continue to enforce laws in four specific areas (customs, taxation, immigration, and pollution) if the infringement started or is about to occur within the state’s territory or territorial waters. 
    • Exclusive economic zones (EEZs)
      • These extend 200 nmi (370 km; 230 mi) from the baseline.  
      • Within this area, the coastal nation has sole exploitation rights over all natural resources. 
      • The EEZs were introduced to halt the increasingly heated clashes overfishing rights, although oil was also becoming important.  
    • Continental shelf
      • The continental shelf is defined as the natural prolongation of the land territory to the continental margin’s outer edge, or 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the coastal state’s baseline, whichever is greater.  
      • Coastal states have the right to harvest mineral and non-living material in the subsoil of its continental shelf, to the exclusion of others.  
      • Coastal states also have exclusive control over living resources “attached” to the continental shelf, but not to creatures living in the water column beyond the exclusive economic zone. 
      • The area outside these areas is referred to as the “high seas” or simply “the Area” 

5 . Critical Minerals

Context : In a strategic move, the Centre has identified 30 critical minerals, including lithium, cobalt, nickel, graphite, tin and copper, which are essential for the country’s economic development and national security.


  • Most countries of the world have identified critical minerals as per their national priorities and future requirements.
  • In India too, some efforts have been made in the past to identify the minerals that are critical for the country, including an initiative in 2011 by the Planning Commission of India (now NITI Aayog) that highlighted the need for the “assured availability of mineral resources for the country’s industrial growth”, with a clear focus on the well-planned exploration and management of already discovered resources. That report analysed 11 groups of minerals under categories such as metallic, nonmetallic, precious stones and metals, and strategic minerals. From 2017 to 2020, a big thrust was accorded to the study of exploration and development of rare earth elements in the country.
  • In November 2022, the Ministry of Mines had constituted a seven-member Committee under the chairmanship of Joint Secretary (Policy), Ministry of Mines to identify a list of minerals critical to our country and the panel decided to have a three-stage assessment to arrive at a list of critical minerals.
  • The identification of these minerals — which form part of multiple strategic value chains, including clean technologies initiatives such as zero-emission vehicles, wind turbines, solar panels; information and communication technologies, including semiconductors; and advanced manufacturing inputs and materials such as defence applications, permanent magnets, ceramics — was done on the basis of a report on critical minerals prepared by an expert team constituted by the Ministry of Mines last November. The ministry will revisit the list periodically.
  • The specific trigger for the latest exercise are India’s international commitments towards reducing carbon emissions, which require the country to urgently relook at its mineral requirements for energy transition and net-zero commitments


  • Elements such as cobalt, nickel and lithium are required for batteries used in electric vehicles or cellphones, rare earth minerals are critical, in trace amounts, in the semiconductors and high-end electronics manufacturing.

Definition of Critical Minerals

  • These are minerals that are essential for economic development and national security, and the lack of availability of these minerals or the concentration of extraction or processing in a few geographical locations could potentially lead to “supply chain vulnerabilities and even disruption of supplies”. This is true for minerals such as lithium, graphite, cobalt, titanium, and rare earth elements, which are essential for the advancement of many sectors, including hightech electronics, telecommunications, transport, and defence.
  • One of the definitions cited in the report characterises a mineral as critical when the risk of supply shortage and associated impact on the economy is (relatively) higher than other raw materials. This definition of a critical mineral was first adopted in the US and the subsequent legislation that resulted from the analysis, the report said. The European Union also carried out a similar exercise and categorised critical minerals on the basis of two prerequisites: supply risk and economic importance.
  • Australia refers to critical minerals as: “metals, non-metals and minerals that are considered vital for the economic well-being of the world’s major and emerging economies, yet whose supply may be at risk due to geological scarcity, geopolitical issues, trade policy or other factors”.

Three-stage process of identification of Critical Minerals in India

  • In its three-stage assessment for identifying the minerals critical to India, the panel, in the first stage, looked at the strategies of various countries such as Australia, USA, Canada, UK, Japan and South Korea. Accordingly, a total of 69 elements/ minerals that were considered critical by major global economies were identified for further examination, the report said, adding that due importance was given to domestic initiatives as well.
  • In the second stage of assessment, an inter ministerial consultation was carried out with different ministries to identify minerals critical to their sectors. Comments and suggestions were received from the Ministry of Power, Department of Atomic Energy, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Department of Fertilisers, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Pharmaceuticals, NITI Aayog, etc.
  • The third stage assessment was to derive an empirical formula for evaluating minerals criticality, taking cognizance of the EU methodology that considers two major factors — economic importance and supply risk.
  • Based on this process, a total of 30 minerals were found to be most critical for India, out of which two are critical as fertiliser minerals: Antimony, Beryllium, Bismuth, Cobalt, Copper, Gallium, Germanium, Graphite, Hafnium, Indium, Lithium, Molybdenum, Niobium, Nickel, PGE, Phosphorous, Potash, REE, Rhenium, Silicon, Strontium, Tantalum, Tellurium, Tin, Titanium, Tungsten, Vanadium, Zirconium, Selenium and Cadmium.

Key Recommendations

  • The committee also called for a need for establishing a National Institute or Centre of Excellence on critical minerals on the lines of Australia’s CSIRO, which is the largest minerals research and development organisation in Australia and one of the largest in the world.
  • A wing in the Ministry of Mines can be established as a Centre of Excellence for Critical Minerals, the report said, adding that this proposed Centre will periodically update the list of critical minerals for India and notify the critical mineral strategy from time to time and will execute a range of functions for the development of an effective value chain of critical minerals in the country.
  • To build competitive value chains in India, the discovery of mineral wealth and identifying areas of its potential by use of advanced technologies has been cited as essential. The identification of critical minerals “will help the country to plan for the acquisition and preservation of such mineral assets taking into account the long term need of the country, and, in turn, reduce the import dependency as India is 100% import dependent for certain elements”.
  • The US, according to the report, adopted a two-stage screening methodology to arrive at the list of critical minerals. An early warning screening tool assesses a mineral’s potential criticality using three fundamental indicators: supply risk, production growth, and market dynamics. This was followed by an in-depth supply chain analyses and inter-agency collaboration, wherein detailed analysis of the underlying factors were carried out.
  • In the UK, the criticality to the British economy was determined in terms of their global supply risks and the economic vulnerability to such a disruption. Three indicators were used to estimate the production concentration, companion metal fraction and recycling rate. A total of 18 minerals were identified as critical to the UK economy, the report noted.
  • The European Commission has been issuing a list of critical raw minerals since 2011 that is updated every three years. The main parameters used to determine the criticality of the mineral for the EU are the economic importance, in terms of end-use applications and the value added of corresponding EU manufacturing sectors. Supply risk is the other parameter. A total of 34 raw materials are identified as Critical Raw Materials for 2023.
  • Japan’s first list of critical minerals was prepared by the country’s Advisory Committee on Mining Industry in 1984, under the direction of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (current METI). In March 2020, Japan released its latest perspective on how to secure its supply chains for critical minerals and materials as part of the New International Resource Strategy. The strategy underscored the growing importance of critical minerals for EVs and renewable power generation equipment. Japan has identified a set of 31 minerals as critical for their economy.
  • The Australian Government, in 2019, released its inaugural Critical Minerals List and associated national strategy and a list of 24 critical minerals was first identified. Two more elements were added in the latest critical mineral strategy.

Initiatives undertaken for Critical Minerals

  • The Geological Survey of India, an attached office of Ministry of Mines, has carried out a G3 stage mineral exploration (fairly advanced) during Field Season 2020-21 and 2021-22 in Salal-Haimna areas of Reasi district, Jammu & Kashmir, and estimated an inferred resource of 5.9 million tonnes of lithium ore. The estimated value of lithium at that site will be estimated on completion of further exploration. Based on the mapping outcome, more exploration programmes on various mineral commodities including lithium will be taken up in future in different parts of the country, including Jammu & Kashmir.
  • In addition, a joint venture company namely Khanij Bidesh India Ltd. (KABIL) has been incorporated with equity contribution from three Central Public Sector Enterprises. It is mandated to identify and acquire overseas mineral assets of critical and strategic nature such as lithium, cobalt and others so as to ensure supply side assurance. KABIL has initiated engagement with several state owned-organisations of the shortlisted source countries through the Ministry of External Affairs and the Indian Embassies in countries like Argentina and Australia to acquire mineral assets, including lithium, cobalt and rare earth elements.
  • In a fresh boost, India has recently been inducted into the Mineral Security Partnership (MSP), a US-led collaboration of 14 countries that aims to catalyse public and private investment in critical mineral supply chains globally. India’s inclusion assumes significance given that one of the key elements of New Delhi’s growth strategy is powered by an ambitious shift in the mobility space through the conversion of a large part of public and private transport to electric vehicles. This, alongside a concerted electronics manufacturing and semiconductor push, underlines the need to secure the supply of critical minerals.

6 . Study on Impact of Extraction of Groundwater on Earth’s Axis

Context : The excessive extraction of groundwater for drinking and irrigation has shifted the Earth’s axis of rotation, according to a new study. Noting that humans pumped out around 2,150 gigatons of groundwater between 1993 and 2010, the study says that the planet’s axis has drifted at the rate of 4.36 cm per year towards the east.

About the study

  • The study, ‘Drift of Earth’s Pole Confirms Groundwater Depletion as a Significant Contributor to Global Sea Level Rise 1993–2010’, was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, earlier this month.
  • It was carried out by Ki-Weon Seo, Taewhan Jeon, Jae-Seung Kim, Kookhyoun Youm of the Seoul National University (South Korea), Dongryeol Ryu of the University of Melbourne (Australia), Jooyoung Eom of the Kyungpook National University (South Korea), Jianli Chen of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Hong Kong), Clark R Wilson of the University of Texas at Austin (USA).

Earth’s axis keeps shifting

  • Earth spins around an imaginary axis which passes through the north pole, its centre of mass and the south pole — just like a top spins around its spindle. Scientists for years have known that the poles and the axis keep shifting naturally as the mass distribution in and on the planet changes. This phenomenon is known as “polar motion”.
  • For instance, rocks slowly circulating inside Earth’s mantle causes the planet’s mass to shift, leading to a change in the position of the rotational axis. Lead author of the latest research, Ki-Weon Seo, told  that the shift of the axis, in fact, “varies about several metres in a year.”
  • There are several other reasons responsible for polar motion like ocean currents and even hurricanes. But this phenomenon is also impacted by human activities. In 2016, a team of researchers demonstrated that climate-driven changes in water mass distribution, led by the melting of glaciers and ice in Greenland, can cause Earth’s axis to drift. Five years later, another study said climate change was causing the rotational axis to shift more than usual since the 1990s.

Key Findings of the study

  • Although the shift isn’t significant enough to have real-life consequences, the study shows that humans have extracted so much water from the ground that it has impacted the planet’s axis and contributed to global sea level rise.
  • The study also noted that the groundwater extraction from North America and northwestern India, both located at the Earth’s midlatitudes, had an outsized impact on the polar motion in comparison to the extraction taking place in poles or equators.
  • “Mass change on the equator or pole cannot affect change in the rotational pole. Rotational pole change is actually associated with the moment of inertia of the Earth, which is sensitive to midlatitude mass change.
  • The water sucked out from the ground for irrigation and meeting the world’s freshwater demands, eventually, goes into the oceans. Seo and his team confirmed that groundwater extraction is one of the major contributors to the global sea level rise. Their calculations matched with previous research, which estimated that groundwater extraction raised global sea levels by 6.24mm between 1993 and 2010.

7 . Facts for Prelims


  • Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that is 200 times sweeter than normal sugar. It is available in powder form for table-top use in tea and coffee. It is also commonly used in colas, chewing gums, and packaged desserts. In fact, diet colas can be zero calories because they use artificial sweeteners instead of sugar.
  • Aspartame does contain calories. It can be broken down completely by the digestive system and hence doesn’t lead to spikes in blood glucose levels after consumption like normal sugar.
  • Aspartame is set to be declared a possible carcinogen this month by a leading global health body. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), will list aspartame as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” for the first time in July
  • Following this, the joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives will update its risk assessment exercise on aspartame, including the reviewing of the acceptable daily intake and dietary exposure assessment for aspartame,” IARC said in a statement.

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