Thursday, June 9, 2011

Acid Rain

Recently, I did a paper in science class on acid rain. I'd like to share it with you because I believe that it holds important information critical to this topic of Staying Green.

Death Water

Over the years, acid rain has quickly become a monster as it deteriorates and erodes planet Earth. With each passing day, its strength grows, and one day, humans will finally open their eyes and only be able to watch in horror as it destroys not only their homes, but also their health.

Acid rain is precipitation acidified by pollutants in the air. Acid rain contains relatively high concentrations of acid-forming chemicals. It harms humans, plants, aquatic animals, and infrastrucctures as it pours onto Earth. The main causes of acid rain are sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Acidix substances are generated when these substances react with water, oxygen, etc. in the air. "Car and factory emissions contain nitrogen and sulfur, which combine with water in the air to form nitric and sulfuric acids. These corrosive liquids fall to earth when it rains." (Time-Life, 1999, p. 102). Acid rain is present all over the world. However, there are different amounts in different areas. For example, the lakes of Norway and Sweden suffer from air pollution generated by industrial areas to their south and southwest. Canadians are distressed by the damage from air pollution generated by the U.S. In third world nations and some other countries without pollution restrictions, acid rain tends to be very high. Because acid rain can move about so easily, the problem is a global one.

"Acid rain...does not respect political boundaries..." (Lachapelle, 1995, p. 298). It has an enormous effect on the entire world, and that's not only on humans. The number of fish in an acidified lake decreases drastically at below pH 5 because the pH sensitive plankton and water plants are poisoned and killed off. In a lake of a pH level below 4, fish eggs don't hatch and the fills of adult fish are harmed. Land plants are also devastated. Scientists of the United States Environment Protection Agency noted that acid rain destroys the cuticle of leaves, harms stoma, and ingibits photosynthesis and respiration. "Acid rain is responsible for killing coniferous forests at high elevations and poisoning lakes in much of Europe and North America." (Time-Life, 1999, p. 102). Acid rain alters the soil by dissolving nutrients and helpful minerals. "It robs the soil of essential nutrients and releases aluminum into the soil, which makes it hard for trees to take up water." (National Geographic Website, 2010). It also has many deleterious effects on man-made structures. The acidic solution eventually decays roofing shingles. Acid rain stains and weakens outside materials, resulting in rusted and weathered sculptures and other structures. Ultimately, human healthe is strongly influenced by acid rain. Scientists have linked premature deaths and diseases such as cancer to tainted drinking water.

Like gllobal warming, the problem of acid rain has progressed to the point that it is impossible to eliminate quickly. However, there are things that everyone can do to help decrease the amounts of acid rain. One can try to be as green as possible; energy consumption is closely related to the large amounts of acid rain. One can turn off power to electric appliances when not in use, and use public transportation, bicycle, or walk as much as possible. Purchasing a low-pollution producing car and using it for a long time is also very helpful. Another way to help is to restore a damaged environment. Acid deposition strongly penetrates the fabric of an ecosystem, changing the chemistry of soil and streams, and narrowing the space where certain plants and animals can survive. Because of this, it takes many years for ecosystems to recover. Planting trees, gardening, and clearing litter are all useful strategies to help. One clever way to restore a deteriorating environment is to add limestone to acidified lakes to cancel out the acidity. Both scientists and environmentalists continue to seek methods to aid the war against acid rain.

Acid rain is a global crisis. It destroys both the environment and man-made structures. It also plays a great role in human health all around the world. Along with recycling, being green, saving power, and restoring nature, one also has to remember to look to the future. What one does today will alter the events to come. People must work together to accomplish great things. That is the story of the world repeated over and over again: join hands, and one will succeed, break apart, and failure is sure to come.

-Caroline Zhu

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