Acid Rain (781 words) Essay

Acid Rain
For years ever since most of the world has been industrialized, the effects of
pollution have plagued nations alike. Acid rain is one of the largest
contributors to this industrialized form of pollution. Throughout this report an
explanation of the devastating effects to the environment caused by acid rain
will be given along with what is being done to stop it. Acid rain is made when
pollutants arise from the use of coal in the production of electricity, from
base- metal smelting and from fuel combustion in vehicles. Once the sulfur and
nitrogen oxides from these man made causes are released into the air they are
caught by wind currents and are blown hundreds of miles away. The gas pollutants
drift along with clouds until the rain eventually converts the sulfuric dioxide
into sulfuric acid, and the nitrogen oxide into nitric acid. The newly
transformed acid rain, acid snow or fog, falls to the earth where the effects on
aquatic habitats, humans, animals, trees, crops, and other forms of plant life
are devastating. When acid rain comes in contact with aquatic ecosystems the
chemistry of the effects can be extremely complex. If one species or group of
species changes or dies out in response to the acid rain, then the whole entire
body of water, especially in lakes, is affected through the predator- prey
relationship of the food web. In some places where the acid deposition falls,
natural substances absorb and neutralize the acid but in most places they build
up and the water becomes as sour as lemon juice. In these instances the chance
of a food web being disrupted are more likely to happen. When the acidity of the
water is around the ph level of 6.0 fish cannot lay eggs. When they can’t
reproduce and the acidity level grows then the fish out, and when in lakes are
extremely difficult to be replaced. Around this acidity level plants also die
out and are poisoned. Insects no longer have a food source and soon they are
gone. The water fowl and other birds in the area that fed on fish and insects no
longer have a food source and they are the next to go. As the whole entire food
web come toppling down the aquatic ecosystems become quiet; quiet as a grave.

Acid rain also effects crops and other plant life. Surprisingly though acid rain
can actually help out some crops such as strawberries, corn, and tomatoes. Other
crops like soybeans can be affected for the worse. When they are watered with
acid rain the size and number of the seeds and pods on the plants can cut in
half or be totally wiped out. The effects on other terrestrial plant life can be
also very destructive. It accelerates soil weathering and removal of nutrients
along with slowing down or stopping plant germination or reproduction. The waxy
surface protecting the plants leaves can be altered, drastically lowering the
plants disease resistance. Also toxic elements such as aluminum can be made more
soluble making the uptake of nutrients of plants much more difficult. Many of
the trees throughout the world are also greatly affected. In the green mountains
of Vermont, some scientists think that as much as thirty percent of forests have
died in the past twenty years because acid rain. Another large study has been
conducted in Northern Europe. In 1984, for example, reports said that more than
half of the trees in Germany’s Black Forests had been severely damaged by acid
rain. Acid rain has also struck, in a major way, the northeastern past of the
U.S. and Canada. Besides for destroying most of our crops, acid rain effects
humans in many other ways. The air we breathe, when coming in contact with acid
deposition, can pollute our lungs as well as the water we drink. What is really
being done to stop this killer? Industrial emissions have been mainly to blame
for the acid rain. To start, industries first took it upon themselves to start
further studies on the problem, and because of the cost of pollution our
government began to support them. In 1988 the U.S. , along with 24 other
nations, made a protocol, freezing the rate of nitrogen oxide emissions, as part
of United Nations- Sponsored long-range Transboundry Air Pollution Agreement.

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The 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act of 1967 put in place regulations to
reduce the release of sulfur dioxide from power plants to 10 million tons per
year by January 1, 2000. With our present and future efforts to make our plant
life, aquatic ecosystems, and humans safe from this killer, we will hopefully
find a way to control or diminish acid rain.

“Acid Rain.” Effects on Trees and Soils. Downloaded from America Online.

Thursday, February 4, 1999. “Acid Rain.” Environment Canada. Downloaded from
America Online. 1994-1999. ” Acid Rain.” Microsoft Encarta 96 Encyclopedia.

Microsoft Corporation. 1993-1995. Woods, Harold. “Acid Rain.” Pollution.

United States: Geraldine and Harold Woods, 1985.


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