Here’s a great infographic we had made about acid rain and its devastating effects on the environment. If you’d like to make a long-term global difference for the environment, consider studying environmental policy.
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Acid Rain: Nature’s “Tears of Paradise”
Acid rain, (aka. “nature’s tears of paradise”) is any form of precipitation with high levels of nitric and sulfuric acids, also referred to as “atmospheric pollution.”
Acid rain occurs when sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are emitted into the atmosphere, where they undergo chemical transformations and are absorbed by water droplets in clouds. Acid rain can also occur in other forms of acidic precipitation, such as snow, fog and tiny bits of material deposits that settle to Earth.
Acid rain is primarily caused by the burning of fossil fuels by power plants, factories and automobiles. Additionally, acid rain is exacerbated by the chemical release of rotting vegetation and erupting volcanoes.
The Policy Almanac estimates, “about 2/3 of all SO2 and 1/4 of all NOx comes from electric power generation that relies on burning fossil fuels like coal [in the U.S.].”
When it comes to pH levels, normal rain has a pH of about 5.6, and rain with a pH value of less than 5.3 is considered to be acid rain. Healthy lakes have a pH of about 6.5, which supports a rich variety of wildlife. ‘Dead’ lakes have a pH of about 4.5; such levels leads to a decline in fish population, which then leads to the decline in birds who feed on these fish.
Acid Rain in Numbers
According to Clean Water Space, “Europe, North America, and China are recognized as areas suffering most from acid rain.”
Acid rain is responsible for the destruction of 1 million hectares of forests in Europe
(including 9,000 in northern Italy, alone), along with causing more than 20,000 lakes in Sweden to become void of aquatic life. Furthermore, acid rain has led to the decimation of fish and shrimp life in 260 Norwegian lakes.
There are over 8,500 Canadian lakes and 1,200 American lakes that are measured as acidified (aka. “dead lakes”). Even more shocking? Acid rain covers 30 per cent of China’s land mass, from southwest regions to southern China. This figure translates into 61.8 per cent of China’s major cities that are exposed to acid rain.
Acid rain causes a 50 per cent to 70 per cent visibility reduction within the U.S., along with human respiratory problems that result in 550 deaths each year in the U.S. and Canada.
Due to the rising health concerns caused by acid rain, U.S. health program expenditures are valued at $50 billion, each year.
The hazardous, chemical effects of acid rain has a major impact on forestation; crops; wildlife; aquatic environment, infrastructure and human health. Acid rain prevention is largely dependent on the reduction of sulfur dioxide emissions and energy conservation methods.
**If you wish to make a long-term, ecological difference, consider a career in environmental science. You can learn more about the types of environmental degrees available online at http://www.distancelearning.org. **