There are many environmental factors of Earth which has caused many problems nowadays and are affects humans, the earth, the environment, animals and our surroundings. They include acid rain, deforestation, greenhouse gasses, mining, oil spills, over-fishing, smog, soil erosion and many more. As you can see, all these factors have been caused for reasons and are causing problems and side effects for the environment. Acid rain for example has caused many problems in the world for both the environment and people. Acid rain is an environmental factor that is caused by a chemical reaction that begins when compounds like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are released into the air. These substances rise high into the atmosphere where they mix and react as water, oxygen and other chemicals to form more acidic pollutants known as acid rain. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides dissolve very easily in water and can be carried very far by the wind. As a result, the two compounds can travel long distances where they become part of the rain, sleet, snow, and fog that we experience on certain days. Human activities are the main cause of acid rain. Power plants release the majority of sulfur dioxide and much of the nitrogen oxides when they burn fossil fuels, such as coal, to produce electricity. In addition, the exhaust from vehicles releases nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide in the air. This causes acid rain. Nature depends on balance, and although some rain is naturally acidic, with a pH level of around 5.0, human activities have made it worse. Normal precipitation reacts with alkaline chemicals that can be found in air, soils, bedrock, lakes, and streams. These reactions usually neutralize natural acids. However, if precipitation is too acidic, these materials can't neutralize all of the acids. Over time, these neutralizing materials can be washed away by acid rain. As a result, it damages crops, trees, lakes, rivers and animals. Acid rain causes health problems in people, harms forests, damages lakes and streams, and damages buildings and objects. Acid rain causes respiratory problems like asthma or chronic bronchitis. The pollution that causes acid rain creates tiny particles and when they get into people’s lungs, they cause these problems. Acid rain harms forests by making the rain seep in the ground which then dissolves nutrients like magnesium and calcium which trees need to be healthy. Acid rain releases aluminum in soil and makes it difficult for trees to take up water. This aluminum eventually ends up in lakes and streams which increases the acidity and aluminum levels which is harmful to wildlife including phytoplankton. Chemicals in acid rain worn down statues peels paint and damages buildings, monuments, cars and many more. There are many methods and solutions found for reducing acid rain which are being used nowadays. Methods include Environmental Agency Protection’s acid rain program, reducing pollution, using renewable energy resources, and using cleaner cars. Power plants generate the electricity we use everyday but they also produce large amounts of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide when fossil fuels are burnt. Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 was a law that said that the EPA should start the Acid Rain Program. This is a federal law that sets limits on how much pollution is allowed in the air in the U.S. They want to make people have clean air to breathe. EPA fines violators who break the law and put too much pollution in the air. The Clean Air Act also established a specific program to reduce the pollutants that cause acid rain. They use allowances to
control the amount of pollution that a source can produce. Each source can decide if it wants to buy, sell, or save these allowances. There are stiff penalties, however, for sources that release more pollutants than their allowances cover. As of 2001, the Acid Rain Program had reduced sulfur dioxide emissions by 33 percent and nitrogen oxide emissions by 27 percent. Another method is using renewable energy resources as alternatives. There are many renewable energy resources which can be used instead of fossil fuels like coal, oil or natural gas. Renewable energy includes hydroelectric power, wind power, geothermal energy and solar energy. This helps reduce acid rain because they produce much less pollution than burning fossil fuels. These energy sources can be used to power machinery and produce electricity and almost does and powers everything just like fossil fuels. Another method used is using scrubbers. They are chemical filters designed to pull certain impurities from the air without removing useful components. Scrubbers remove 80-95 % of the sulfur oxides. Certain types do not remove nitrogen oxides. They are costly to retrofit to existing power plants. They increase the electric generating costs by 10-15 %. Because nitrogen oxides are created in the process of burning coal and other fossil fuels, some power plants are changing the way they burn coal. Another method is using clean vehicles. Since all the cars added up make a lot of pollution, car manufacturers are required to reduce the amount of nitrogen oxides and other pollutants released by new cars. On type of solution used in cars is called a catalytic converter. This equipment has been around for 20 years and it is used to reduce the amount of nitrogen oxides released by cars and remove three dangerous chemicals from exhaust gases. A catalytic converter consists of an insulated chamber containing a porous bed, or substrate, coated with catalytic material through which hot exhaust gas must pass before being discharged into the air. The solutions found for reducing acid rain and many problems related have many benefits. One great benefit is that using other types of power sources makes us produce fewer chemicals since we don’t have to burn many renewable energy resources such as hydroelectric power, wind power, geothermal energy and solar energy. Using theses renewable energy sources has many advantages. Using fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) to make electricity dirties air, consumes and pollutes air, hurts plant and animal life, creates toxic waste, causes global warming and eventually finishes since they are nonrenewable. However, using renewable energy methods provides immediate environmental benefits by avoiding these impacts and risks and helps us preserve fossil resources for future generations. Clean air is very important to good life and health. Air pollution aggravates asthma, the number one children's health problem. Air pollution also causes disease and even premature death among vulnerable populations, including children, the elderly, and people with lung disease. A 1996 analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council of studies by the American Cancer Society and Harvard Medical School suggests that small particles in the air may be responsible for as many as 64,000 deaths each year from heart and lung disease. Statistics show that air pollution is responsible for more deaths than motor vehicle accidents, and ranks higher than many other serious health threats. Another great benefit is from the group ―Clean Air Act‖. This group is found in countries including America, Canada and United Kingdom. It has shown that acid rain levels have decreased as much as 20 percent over a large region of the Eastern U.S. because of Clean Air Act of 1990.
However, there are many limitations of the solutions and methods found for reducing acid rain. Even though the Clean Air Act is a very successful and effective group, it is now popular in countries other than Canada, U.S.S and U.K. This means that the other countries in the world do not know about this which means that this way the whole world doesn’t know about this organization. This then doesn’t allow action to be taken place and help to be given by everyone meaning that the world cannot be as clean and safe if more people were aware of this issue, this group and the consequences for the future. Also this is unfair to the people in Canada, U.S and the U.K because they are working hard to reduce the amount of electricity and energy used while careless people such as the rich people in the gulf are wasting so much energy by having many AC’s open, many cars per family, electricity on most of the time and in many other ways. Catalytic converters are quite expensive machines because they contain precious metals like platinum – which is worth up to $1,200 an ounce; palladium, which can fetch $320 an ounce and rhodium, the biggest prize of all. It goes for up to $6,000 an ounce on the market. This means that many people may not be able to afford such a device. Another serious drawback to the catalytic converter—it needs to be heated to a sufficiently high temperature for it to work efficiently. It has been found that it takes approximately 90 seconds for the catalytic converter to be efficient, and has been reported that 70 percent of all pollutants in the air caused by cars are due to these 90 seconds in an average driving cycle. Another limitation is that renewable energy sources are more expensive than fossil fuels at the moment and this discourages people and countries in using them which is a limitation because we need to start using alternate energy resources before fossil fuels run out. I think that because many countries haven't started using renewable energy yet, they are expensive but if they all start using them and created renewable energy, then the energy will cost less meaning that many more people will use them and it will become more common. But until then, fossil fuel is the most common source of nonrenewable energy which is eventually going to finish. People should start using alternatives before fossil fuels run out since they will become very expensive at the end and many people will need energy. There are many different factors that acid rain and their solutions relate to. They include economical, political and environmental. Even though there are many solutions for acid rain, they aren’t that cheap to perform. For example, scrubbers and catalytic converters are expensive pieces of machinery which cost a lot to install. Many people won't bother even buying and installing them since they would think that the money they would pay for catalytic converters can be used for other useful things. Scrubbers are expensive to install and operate, and some equipment problems have occurred in use. Many countries don’t bother buying them and installing them which then doesn’t encourage other countries to buy them. This doesn’t make the situation any better or improved. Acid rain has also affected the economical factor by the loss of fish in the rivers and streams due to acid rain and water acidity. This has affected the economy of countries
that have sea surrounding them which have lots of fishes and other edible sea animals for trade and market. This has affected them in many ways. First this will effect the people who sell sea foods as they jobs since they won't have as much income as they had which makes them poorer than they were especially if they are quite good at catching fish since they will have to try to find another job fast in order to earn a living especially if they have a family. Another way it affects the country is the trades. In many countries that don’t have as much fishes, especially landlocked countries, then they will ask other countries for sea food and they will buy from them. This makes a country with lots of fish wealthy since they will have lots of fish to sell to countries, but then if they lose fishes due to acidity, then this will be a side effect for them meaning they won't have as much to trade with other countries. An example is Canada. They have lots of fishes, especially Newfoundland, so if the high levels of acidity affect the seas there the fishes are living, then this will decrease the income of Newfoundland's economy. Bibliography http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_energy#Main_renewable_energy_technologies http://library.thinkquest.org/C0111401/dealing_acid_rain.htm#cc http://www.policyalmanac.org/environment/archive/acid_rain.shtml http://www.krioma.net/articles/Catalytic%20Converter/Catalytic%20Converter.htm http://www.elmhurst.edu/~chm/vchembook/197acidrainsoln.html http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/renewable_energy_basics/public-benefits-ofrenewable-energy-use.html http://www.epa.gov/acidrain/effects/surface_water.html#a2