We have had acid rain ever since the first rains fell on a new
planet(Labastille 660). Acid rain commonly refers to what is more precisely
identified as the wet and dry processes for the deposition of acidic inputs to
ecosystems (Regan 195). Acid rain is nothing new all rain has a certain
amount of acidity. In the last 20 years we have increased the acidity of rain
up to a 1,000 times in some areas (Baines 18). Acid rain is a result of the air
pollution that human activities cause, so if we want to help save planet earth
we must begin to do something about it.
Two of the main ingredients of acid rain are sulfur and nitrogen oxide
that are caused by environmental problems like volcanic eruptions, forest
fires, and even the slow decomposition of organic matter. Though the cause
for the majority of the sulfur and nitrogen oxide in our atmosphere are from
human causes such as coal plants and cars. In a year one coal plant can emit
400,000 tons of sulfur (Labastille 661). There are about 550 million vehicles
in the world today enough to make a line of traffic long enough to stretch
around the world about 40 times (Baines 21). Coal plants burn fossil fuels
which all give away sulfur when they are burned. Some of the fossil fuels
burned are coal, oil, and natural gasses.
One of our natural resources acid rain effects the most is our lakes and
streams. To find out how acid rain effects our streams and lakes we look at
the PH level of our lakes. The healthy PH level of a lake is 6.5. In Norway
some lakes have a PH level of 4.5 which is 20 times more acidic than normal
(Baines 19). Half of acid rain that ends up in lakes and streams get there
through dry particles in the air, while the other half enters the water in wet
form like rain, snow, sleet, hail, dew, and fog. Also when acid rain hits the
ground it can run into streams and lakes(Lucas Acid 19). Acid rain is
devastating for plants and animals in certain areas like New York and
Norway. In Adirondack mountains in New York acid rain has caused 180
pounds to have no more trout or birds which were once plentiful of trout and
birds(Labastille 653). In Norway thousands of trout stocks have been lost
forever due to acid rain(Rivers 1).
Another environmental problem caused by acid rain is the rainforest
depletion. The main reason that acid rain effects the rainforest is it ruins the
soil that the trees grow in. The indirect effects of acid rain on forests are
caused by the loss of soil nutrients(Forests 2). In very acidic conditions
aluminum becomes soluble and is released from the soil. At high enough
concentrations aluminum is toxic and damages tree roots(Forests 2). Three
places that acid rain effects forests the most are Czechoslovakia, Norway, and
Germany. In the hills of Czechoslovakia acid rain damage is so severe that
whole areas once forested are now treeless moorland(Baines 20). Germany
forestry scientists estimated that one third of the Black Forest in Germany has
been damaged by acid rain(Forests 2). The main nutrients that acid rain
displaces are calcium and magnesium.
Acid rain has effects on humans and animals to. Acid rain effects all
animals that live near a lake or pond that is effected by acid
rain(Labastille660). Animals are effected by acid rain by when a animal eats
a plant that acid rain has effected. The acid in the plants dont hurt the
animal right away but it accumulates in its tissue. The main way acid rain
effects humans are humans eat the tissue that is effected by acid rain and can
have serious effects. Two of the most deadly substances that acid rain causes
to release from the ground are mercury and aluminum. Mercury can cause
brain damage in unborn children and nerve disorders, brain damage, and
death in adults.
Acid rain also has a strong effect on historical sculptures and buildings.
Acid rain has caused buildings and sculptures to wear away in the last 20
years more than they had worn away in the previous 2000 years(Wearing
History 2). Some areas have acid rain effects worse than others. It matters
how often it rains there and the content of the acid in the rain. The stone
decorations of some historical buildings have been dissolved by acid rain so
much that they are not recognizable(Baines 20).
There are three main things we can do to lower the amount of acid rain.
The first thing we can do is liming. Liming only cures the acidity in lakes by
neutralizing the acid. Another way we are trying to lower the acid rain
amount is the physical cleaning of coal. This is when they wash the parts of
the coal that contains the most sulfur. Another way we can stop acid rain is by
cutting the sulfur and nitrogen amounts put into our air. The main ways we
do this is cutting the amounts of cars that are on the road, and having coal
plants burn less coal and the coal they burned be cleaned.
In conclusion we must continue to follow these solutions or acid rain will
become more serious. If acid rain becomes more serious it will effect all our
natural resources twice as much as it already effects them. Acid rain will be
just another problem caused by pollution that will destroy our earth if we
dont do something about it.
Regan, James L. The Acid Rain Controversy
Pittsburgh, PA. Pittsburgh Press 1988.
(Information on how Acid Rain is destroying the world and
the controversies on how it is happening)
Lucas, Eileen Acid Rain
Chicago, Il. Childrens Press, 1991.
(A good book on information on how acid rain is
caused and what are its effects)
Baines, John. Conserving The Atmosphere
Austin, Texas: Steckvaughn, 1990.
(An introduction to problems confronting the earths atmosphere)
Lucas, Eileen. Water : A Resource in Crisis
Chicago, IL: Childrens Press, 1991
(A good book on the pollution of water)
Dolan, Edward. Our Poisoned Sky
New York: Cobblehill Books, 1991
(Explains How pollutants are ruining our atmosphere and what is being done
National Geographic Vol. 160 No. 5
Acid rain How Great a Menace Labastille, Anna
Washington DC National Geographic Society, 1981
(A good article on how acid rain can effect our environment)