Within this past century, acidity of the air and acid rain have become recognized as one of the leading threats to our planetis environment. No longer limited by geographic boundaries, acid causing emissions are causing problems all over the world. Some laws have been passed which limit the amount of pollutants that are released into the air, but tougher legislation must be implemented before this problem can be overcome.
Acid rain is produced, when automobiles, smelters, power plants, and other industrial factories burn fossil fuels such as gasoline, coal, and fuel oils.
When combusted, the non renewable resources release pollutants such as sulfur, carbon and nitrogen oxides into the air. These oxide combine with the humidity in the air and form sulfuric, nitric and carbonic acid. This acidic solution eventually condenses in the air and comes back down to the earth in any from of precipitation (snow, rain, hail).
Upon returning to the earth, the acidic precipitation can have serious repercussions on both the environment and as well as human structures.
On average, acid rain is about nine times more acidic than rain water, and has been recorded as low as 2.5 on the pH scale (forty times more acidic than water.) Acid deposition kill fish, soil bacteria, and as well as aquatic and terrestrial plants. the acid also drain the soil of essential nutrients such as aluminum and releases them into bodies of water such as streams, lakes, and ponds. These bodies of water develop highly concentrated levels of these nutrients which can really harm the aquatic life forms in that area Those areas without any alkaline metal deposits in the soil to neutralize some of the acid are hurt the most by this destructive force, destroying crops, trees and even killing an entire pond or lake.
Acid rain is also a strong destructive force against man made structures, reacting with marble, plastics and rubber.
The problem of acid rain is derived mostly from northern countries such as the united States, Canada, and many countries of Eastern and Western Europe including Japan. The consequences of the acid precipitation have been most apparent in Norway, Sweden, and Canada, however, due to tall smokestacks many pollutants rise high into the atmosphere where air currents can pick them up and carry them as far as into an entirely different country. This cross-border issue is causing global concerns as it is no longer simply one country's problem.
This concern has been well identified in North America where pollution emissions from Canada and the U.S. are crossing into each others territory. For example coal-powered electric generating stations found in Midwestern U.S seem to be the cause of a severe acid rain problem in eastern Canada. Acid rain is of strong concern worldwide, and something must be done to reduce, or hopefully end the problem. The acid kills nearly all forms of life, and tens of thousands of lakes have already been destroyed by acid rain. Some of the great monuments of the world such as the cathedrals of Europe and the Coliseum in Rome are beginning to be eaten away by the acidic rainfall. Many laws have been passed such as the Clean Air Act of 1970, and the Clean Air Act of 1990. Both laws have helped in the reduction of acid rain, but much more is still needed to be done. The second law states a 50% decrease of sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide, &0% decrease of carbon monoxide, and 20% of other emissions.
Also in 1990, the California Air Resources Board introduced the strictest vehicle emission controls in the world. Many other northeastern states came up with similar controls, but California was the toughest, giving the state until 2003 to decrease hydrocarbon emissions of new cars by 70% and to make sure that al least 105 of all cars produced no harmful emissions. On March 13, 1991, Canada and the U.S. came up with the Air Quality Accord which includes a 40% decrease in annual sulfur dioxide emissions by the U.S from the 1980 level by the year 2000. On December 11 of the same year, Canada came up with the Green Plan which would contain goals such as a 50% reduction of sulfur dioxide emissions in Eastern Canada beyond 1994, and an extension of the acid rain control program to emissions Western Canada.
Many countries feel that the cost of reducing acid rain is too expensive, but Canadals progress in reducing sulfur dioxide emissions is proof that a country's economy can intertwine with environmental protection. Canada has been able to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions from 6.9 million tones in 1970 to 3.7 million ton's in 1990. That is extremely close to a 50% reductio. This is a significant decrease, but more still needs to be done, even if it is a financial burden. The money spent on reducing and eliminating the air pollutants will be more that compensated for the money saved on paying for the damages caused by acid rain. Reduction in cost for repairing man made structures, lees damages on lakes, and plant life. Californials vehicle emissions control of 1990 is a step in the right direction as their goals include not only to reduce but also eliminate the contaminating emissions released by cars. Many equivalent, if not stricter standards should be set up internationally, not only for cars, but for all contributors to the acid rain problem. Factories should be forced to install inexpensive scrubbers, or other technological devices to reduce air pollution. Being the world superpower, the United States must take the first step, and get all countries involved and to ensure that goals are met. Laws on minimum pollution reduction requirements should be set realistically for the whole world, to help ensure that everyone is doing their part to solve this global issue.