This I Believe

Mia - Heber, Utah
Entered on December 19, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: environment
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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.