Air pollution is becoming an epidemic. Acid Rain is
the term given to any precipitation above normal
acidity, this includes snow and fog. The acidity of
rain is measured in pH. A neutral pH is 7, acidic is
lower then 7. The normal pH of rainwater is 5.5,
slightly acidic. In Scotland on April 20, 1974 the
rain measured 2.4 and in West Virginia in 1978 the
rain had a pH of 2.0! This was in the 70’s and air
pollution since then has only gotten worse.Acid rain
occurs when the moisture in the air mixes with Carbon,
Nitrogen, and Sulphur gases. These gases are released
into the air by the burning of fossil fuels. The
primary source of these gases are electric companies
that burn coal. The acid in the rain mixes with
minerals in soil, tying them up so that plants can not
use them. The plant becomes very weak. The rain also
kills the plant’s leaves, further weakening it and
making the plant vulnurable to fungus and other
diseases. This is a major agricultural problem.
The rain also effects lakes, rivers and animals. The
plants in the lakes and rivers are killed in the same
way as land plants. The fish and other animals are
left with no food. The animals that do survive are
killed from the infected water. Most of the cement
used to make our buildings are made from lime, which
is very reactive with acid. Weathering is a natural
process. Rain is normally slightly acidic but because
of air pollution, the process has been sped up alot.
The best solution would be to stop burning fossil
fuels all together but we have no alternatives.
Scientists are trying ways to cut down on pollution.
One way is to wash the coal before they burn it.
Washing it takes off most of the sulphur but not all
of it. The problem with this is what to do with all
the excess sulphur. Another way is to clean the smoke
before it is released into the air. Many filters have
been installed but again this solution is not totaly
Another major problem caused by air pollution is
global warming or the “greenhouse effect”. The
greenhouse effect is caused by solar energy being
trapped by CO2, Methane, Ozone, Nitrous gas, and
Chlorofluorocarbons that are in the air. The solar
energy comes into the atmosphere as light, it hits the
Earth, looses some of its energy and becomes heat.
Because the heat does not have as much energy it can
not penetrate back through the gases. The Earth has a
natural greenhouse effect caused by the CO2. If we
didn’t have this natural greenhouse effect, the Earth
would be too cold to live on. We have increased this
effect through the release of many other gases. CO2 is
released into the air from factories and from the
exhausts of cars. CFCs are released into the air from
aerosol cans. They are also used in air conditioners
and refrigerators and leak from these places. Ozone is
created when the sunlight strikes nitrogen oxide from
car exhaust and the oxygen from it bonds with oxygen
gas. Ozone is a very toxic gas and is good at
filtering out UV light in the stratosphere but is bad
for us when it is in the lower atmosphere. The reason
global warming is bad is because it wouldn’t stop.
Winters will be warm and summers will be unbearably
hot. Some scientists believe that if this continues we
will have to abandon the southern areas and keep
moving north to escape the heat. This is why I am not
having kid’s. Thankyou parents for taking no
responsibility and leaving us to pay the price. Many
places will become dessert. Warming also brings up the
idea of what will happen to all the ice at the poles.
Well, the ice will melt and sea levels will rise. Most
of our costal land is only a few feet above sea level.
The average yearly temperature has been going up by .5
degrees Celsius. We can slow down the greenhouse
effect and maybe even stop it by stopping the release
of greenhouse gases. We can also slow down the rate of
deforestation and plant more trees.
The last major environmental problem caused by air
pollution is ozone depletion. Ozone is three oxygen
molecules. It is concentrated in the stratosphere
around 20-25 km above the earth’s surface. Ozone is
what protects us from the sun’s rays. It blocks out
the harmful uv light that causes skin cancer. Two huge
holes have been discovered in the ozone layer. These
areas have absolutely no protection from UV light. CFC
gases are used in aerosol cans, air conditioners, and
refrigerators. They do not break down in the lower
atmosphere and are carried up into the stratosphere.
Another thing that is destroying the ozone is Nitrous
gas. It is released from airplanes exhaust. Soaring
airplanes put the pollutants right where they need to
be to cause destruction. All we need to do is slow
down the use of these gases. This will give the ozone
time to repair itself. Then we need to keep the use to
a minimum, and this problem should stop.
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