The Price of the Future and the Pastby Lauren Walkowski, Williamsville NYGasoline prices all over America have dropped because of Middle Eastern competition for world business. In some areas, prices have dropped to under one dollar per gallon. As we enter the 21st century, gas is still a necessary natural resource for most forms of transportation.Everyone has heard of acid rain, but do you really understand it? Acid rain is formed when sulfur and nitrogen are emitted from burning fossil fuels (gas, oil and coal) in power plants, industrial boilers and vehicles. When these emissions combine with water vapor, sunlight and oxygen in the atmosphere, it creates a mixture of sulfuric and nitric acid in the clouds. When it precipitates, it literally rains acid. Why should we care about acid rain? It pollutes our water, soil and sky. It erases the past, eating away the world's monuments, including the Krakow building in Poland, ancient ruins in Athens and cathedrals in Europe. Acid rain can contain huge amounts of toxins, such as aluminum that clog gills and cause fish to suffocate. Soil acidity has increased five to tenfold over the past 20-50 years in Europe and the eastern United States. Acid leaches nutrients from the roots of vegetation, causing disease and leaving them vulnerable to harsh weather.Every year, around one million metric tons of sulfur are released across the globe - and more than 90% is man-made. We need to do something about this problem. If gasoline causes acid rain, we should increase the price to $4 per gallon a gasoline for personal transportation. The price of gasoline would drop to reasonable rates for public transportation to keep manufactured products at affordable prices. This rate would only be offered to factories and transportation companies who equip their smoke stacks with electrostatic precipitators or vehicles with catalytic converters. The same system could apply to coal-run businesses.Many Americans use public transportation, but not enough! Busses and trains use 75% less fuel per passenger mile than cars. Developments of solar and battery-powered cars has begun, but they are still in the future. As long as your family (or you) owns a gasoline-powered car, this topic affects you.Isn't this sacrifice worth the future of the world we leave to our children and the past we are trying to preserve? ^Facts from World Wildlife Federation, Atlas of the Environment, Second Edition, Geofferey Lean and Don Hinrichsen, 1992
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.