The week in 5 charts | Joshimath land subsidence, 2022 sixth-warmest year, invasion of the Brazilian Congress, and more

Here are 5 charts that will help you understand some of the key stories from this week

January 15, 2023 01:20 pm | Updated 10:11 pm IST

(1) Joshimath land subsidence

Joshimath, the gateway to Uttarakhand’s holy places, is sinking. It sank as much as nearly 5.4 cm just in the past 12 days, according to an ISRO report. Over the past week, 723 houses in Joshimath have developed cracks. At least 50 houses have developed cracks in Karnprayag. Large-scale evacuations are underway for Joshimath residents amidst disagreement between residents and the government over compensation amounts for the damaged buildings.

Uttarakhand’s houses have been standing on shaky ground for a while now. First cracks developed in 2021 when 14 families in Chhawani Bazaar noticed cracks in their houses. One reason lies in Joshimath’s geography. The area is prone to landslides since it is built on debris of previous landslides. This build makes it vulnerable to collapse even with minor tremors. The map shows areas susceptible to landslides as mapped by the Geological survey of India. Regions across Uttarakhand are vulnerable.

by TH Graphics Team

Unplanned construction, booming tourism, and government-funded mega infrastructure and power projects are other reasons places like Joshimath are sinking. Locals point to the National Thermal Power Corporation’s Tapovan Vishnugad hydropower project. The Supreme Court is set to hear a petition on Monday calling for the incident to be declared a natural disaster. The petition blames infrastructure projects.

Editorial | Reckless spree: on Joshimath sinking

(2) 2022: Sixth warmest year

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Thursday it had ranked 2022 as the sixth warmest since 1880. European Union scientists this week said 2022 was the fifth warmest year in their records. According to NASA, last year was the world’s joint fifth-warmest on record and the last nine years were the nine warmest since pre-industrial times, putting the 2015 Paris Agreement’s goal to limit global warming to 1.5C in serious jeopardy.

Last year tied with 2015 as the fifth-warmest year since record-keeping began in 1880, NASA said. That was despite the presence of the La Nina weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean, which generally lowers global temperatures slightly. Climate assessments produce slightly different rankings depending on the data sources used and the way records account for minor data alterations over time, for example, a weather station being moved to a new location.

Also read |Should fossil fuel firms be forced to clean up carbon pollution?

NASA said temperatures were increasing by more than 0.2C per decade, putting the world on track to blow past the 2015 Paris Agreement’s goal to limit global warming to 1.5C to avoid its most devastating consequences.

Also read | 18 huge, billion-dollar disasters: Climate change helped make 2022 the 3rd most expensive year on record

The changing climate fuelled weather extremes across the planet in 2022. Europe suffered its hottest summer on record, while in Pakistan floods killed 1,700 people and wrecked infrastructure, drought ravaged crops in Uganda and wildfires ripped through Mediterranean countries. Despite most of the world’s major emitters pledging to eventually slash their net emissions to zero, global CO2 emissions continue to rise.

(3) On the invasion of the Brazilian Congress

Well before he was defeated by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in last year’s presidential elections in Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro had repeatedly said that if he failed to get re-elected, it could only be through fraud. He called his political rivals “thieves” and warned of violence if voted out. A week after Lula was inaugurated, thousands of Mr. Bolsonaro’s supporters stormed the institutional trinity of Brazil democracy — the presidential palace, the Supreme Court and Congress — saying the election was stolen and demanding that the military shut down Lula’s government.

Mr. Bolsonaro has to take the blame for what happened in Brasilia on Sunday, which was reminiscent of the January 6, 2021 riots at the U.S. Capitol by Donald Trump’s supporters. While in power, he had flirted with the anti-institution, conspiracy-peddling far-right fringes of Brazilian polity. Mr. Bolsonaro, a fan of the military dictatorship, had little respect for the country’s institutions. His silence, along with support from Brazil’s wealthy classes, seems to have empowered the protesters to invade state institutions on Sunday.

Also read | Brazil ‘mega-protest’ fizzles amid authorities’ concern

(4) India to become 3rd largest auto market globally

India eclipsed Japan in auto sales last year, according to the latest industry data, making it the third-largest auto market for the first time, Nikkei Asia reported on Friday. India’s sales of new vehicles totalled at least 4.25 million units, based on preliminary results, topping the 4.2 million sold in Japan. New vehicles delivered in India totalled 4.13 million between January and November 2022, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. Adding December’s sales volume reported on Sunday by Maruti Suzuki, India’s largest carmaker, brings the total to roughly 4.25 million units. India’s sales volume is expected to rise further with the inclusion of pending fourth-quarter sales figures for commercial vehicles, along with year-end results yet to be released by Tata Motors and other automakers, according to Nikkei Asia.

In 2021, China continued to lead the global auto market, with 26.27 million vehicles sold. The U.S. remained second at 15.4 million vehicles, followed by Japan at 4.44 million units. Nikkei Asia said India’s auto market has fluctuated in recent years. Roughly 4.4 million vehicles were sold in 2018, but volume dipped below 4 million units in 2019, due primarily to the credit crunch that hit the nonbank sector that year. When the Covid pandemic triggered a countrywide lockdown in 2020, vehicle sales plummeted further below the 3-million-unit mark. Sales recovered in 2021 to approach 4 million units, but the shortage of automotive chips weighed on growth. According to Nikkei Asia, the easing of the automotive chip crunch in 2022 provided a springboard for recovery.

Along with Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors and other Indian automakers saw sales growth last year. India is home to 1.4 billion people, and its population is expected to outstrip China sometime this year and continue growing until the early 2060s. Incomes are rising as well. Only 8.5% of Indian households owned a passenger vehicle in 2021, according to British research firm Euromonitor, meaning there is plenty of room for sales growth.

Also Read |‘Auto sector to gain the most out of 5G’

(5) Peru President insists ‘I will not resign’ as protests continue

Supporters of ousted president Pedro Castillo have marched and barricaded streets around the South American country since December, demanding new elections and the removal of Peruvian President Dina Boluarte, his successor and former vice president. Ms. Boluarte lamented that the protests have at times turned violent, as at least 42 people have been killed in clashes with security forces, including a police officer burned alive in a vehicle, while hundreds more have been injured.

The month-long political crisis in Peru has crossed a bloody threshold and could trigger more waves of violence. The incident shows not only the barbarity of the country’s security personnel in dealing with protests, but also the failure of President Dina Boluarte and of her predecessor Pedro Castillo in uniting and stabilising the country during the periods they have been in power.

Ms. Boluarte insisted on January 13 that she will not step down, after another day of protests and roadblocks throughout the country saw calls for her resignation and the arrest of a trade union leader with supposed links to Maoist rebels. She rejected the possibility of calling a constitutional assembly as demanded by protestors, pointing to the difficulties Peru’s neighbor Chile has had in drafting and approving a new constitution.

Editorial |Peru in peril: On the political crisis in the South American country

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