Acid Rain

April 13, 2010
By Anonymous

Acid rain affects a wide range of organisms and plant life, disturbing the natural ecosystem and even affecting our own lives. Aquatic animals are harmed from the acidic waters caused by the rain, trees are often deprived of the necessary nutrients to grow and their leaves are damaged from the acid rain, and the gases associated with acid rain leads to poor air quality and lung problems for humans. While the damage of acid rain to our environment has already taken effect, we hold the power---and the responsibility, to prevent further consequences of acid rain by promoting a well educated society in the topic of acid rain and the effective methods that can be taken to reduce the effects of acid rain. Certainly, our efforts to prevent the occurrences of acid rain is evident, however, there is still much work to be done to properly inform our society of the effects of acid rain and how we can prevent the consequences of the rain.
So what exactly are the causes for acid rain? There are mainly two gas emissions that are responsible for acid rain---sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. What is important is the fact that we humans are largely responsible for the increased emissions of these gases. Fossil fuel burning, through coal plants, cars, and factories emit sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere, where the gases mixes with water and oxygen. This forms an acidic solution that is then released into the Earth as acid rain, where the effects it has on our environment are detrimental. As responsible human beings, we have a responsibility to take care of our environment, and our own lives. The first step we can do is to advocate for power plants, factories, and cars to reduce the emission of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emitted. Scrubbers can help remove some of the sulfur dioxide from smoke stacks, power plants can use natural gases instead of coals, and cars with catalytic convertors help reduce the nitrogen oxides emitted by cars. While some companies may be reluctant to use these alternatives methods to help our environment, when we look at the impact acid rain can have on organisms, plants, and humans, the extra effort to help reduce acid rain by the companies is certainly worth the effort.
One of the biggest impacts acid rain has on our world is the acid on lakes and rivers, where many aquatic organisms are detrimentally affected. Acid rain increases the acidity of our lakes and rivers, which in effect increases the amount of toxic aluminum released into the waters. Some fish and other aquatic organisms cannot tolerate large amounts of acidic waters, thus leading to the death of many organisms. Because every living organism is part of an interconnected ecosystem, the death of some fishes and organisms affects other parts the ecosystem and the overall biodiversity of the environment. In addition, plant life such as trees are also impacted by acid rain. Leaves of the affected trees are damaged, and the trees are often deprived of the necessary nutrients. This is because the acid rain dissolves much of the nutrients in the soil so that the trees cannot absorb the necessary nutrients it needs for growth. When we think about it, the impact acid rain has on trees affects other parts of the ecosystem, such as the animals living in the trees and their destroyed habitats. Limestone, though not effectively solving all the problems that acid rain can cause on the aquatic organisms, does help reduce the amount of acidity in the lakes. However, to tackle the long term problems and effects of acid rain on plant life and organisms, we need to take a more proactive step in reducing the damage by preventing fossil fuel burning through factories and cars. One viable solution that individuals can do is to drive less, instead carpooling, walking, bicycling, or taking the bus, leading to less fossil fuel burning. Further, the usage of energy efficient appliances reduces the amount of energy consumed.
Perhaps the effect of acid rain that most directly affects us is the poor air quality in our environment. Remember the two primary gases responsible for acid rain? Sulfur dioxide and Nitrogen oxides are able to form sulfates and nitrate particles that negatively impact the air quality and lead to increased lung and heart disorders. When we think of all the impact that acid rain has on the environment, and on us, perhaps we will think twice before driving a car to the nearby grocery store when a ten minute walk would have sufficed. Perhaps we will advocate for regulations and limits on the amount of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emitted through power plants and factories. Above all, a well informed society on the effects of acid rain will lead to further awareness of this issue and promotes actions to help reduce the amount of acid rain in our world.

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