Acid Rain in Europe

Acid Rain in Europe
Acid Rain in Europe Introduction ==== The atmosphere is like a film of gases, which makes the planet habitable. If this layer was not present there would be no life on earth. It is a fact that the health of plants, animals and humans depends upon a very important factor ?pollution?. Although, all kinds of poisonous waste is continuing to be put into the atmosphere. These poisonous gases are being produced when fossil fuels are burnt, as a result of this acid rain forms which further more results in numerous problems damaging forests, lakes, rivers, land, plants and animals. The main culprits of burning fossil fuels are MEDC?s, which insist on maintaining their high standards of living. What is acid rain? Rain is naturally acidic but the term ?acid rain? is usually referred to as rain, which has been made more acidic than it should be due to the atmosphere absorbing the gasses emitted from the burning of fossil fuels. The gases are oxides of nitrogen and sulphur. Nitrogen oxide is usually given Nox as there are many of them, sulphur oxide SO2 and water H2O When these mix together they form acids such as sulphurous acid (H2SO3).
Acid rain can be deposited in three ways:
Wet deposition ? The deposition of pollutants in rain and snow
mainly affects upland areas.
Dry deposition ? The deposition of gases and particles directly onto
terrestrial surfaces.
Cloud deposition ? The capture of cloud droplets that contain
concentrated pollutants.
We can measure how acidic the rain actually is by the pH scale, 7 is neutral, below that is acidic above that is alkaline. A ?log scale? can be used for example pH 6 is ten times more acidic than pH 7, so pH 5 is one hundred times more acidic than pH7. Case study: An investigation to show how acid rain is affecting Europe. What are the causes of acid rain? Acid rain was first found in Scandinavia in the late 1950?s and at first it was thought to be a local problem, however, later it was discovered that the pollution was actually far away from Scandinavia, it was coming from Britain and Northern Europe. Acid rain is an international problem and pollution can be dispersed by the winds causing problems far from the source of pollution as Scandinavia found in the 1950?s. There are many things that contribute to acid rain such as coal fired power stations, this is one of the main producers of sulphur dioxide. In Europe there is about forty five million tonnes of sulphur put into the atmosphere. There was a drop in the 1980?s; however, amounts are starting to increase again. Another polluter is vehicles, mainly cars which are responsible for most of the nitrogen oxide, some of it comes straight from the exhaust but most comes when the gases react with the air. Sulphur is an element that makes up the earth, therefore can come from volcanic eruptions, sea spray and plankton. Looking at the world as a whole around 50% of sulphur dioxide comes from natural sources of sulphur, in Europe, however, only 15% comes from natural resources. Britain has contributed at least 16% of the acid deposition in Norway. Over 90% of Norway?s acid pollution comes from other countries. The main European polluters are Germany, UK, Poland and Spain with each of them producing over one million tonnes of sulphur emissions in 1994. What are the effects of acid rain? Their two main factors within the effects of acid rain That is the environmental effects and the human effects. Acid rain is a very damaging form of pollution, and the environment suffers from its effects. Forests, trees, lakes, animals, buildings and plants suffer from acid rain. Trees are a very important natural resource. They provide timber, control local climate, and forests give homes to wildlife. The rain trickles down the trees running into the soil below sometimes running into streams and then into rivers and lakes this can make trees lose their leaves or needles as have many trees in Germany. The needles and leaves of the trees turn brown and fall off. Also acid rain can dissolve and wash away the nutrients in the soil, which help trees to grow. Harmful substances such as aluminium can be released into the soil. Another way trees can suffer from acid rain is stunted growth; and has damaged bark and leaves, which makes them vulnerable to weather, disease, and insects. This usually happens through trees having the rain deposited on them but can also occur when trees absorb soil that has come into contact with acid rain. The soil poisons the tree with toxic substances that the rain has deposited into it.[image] However some soils can neutralise the acid and have what is known as a ?buffering capacity?. Although in this way some soils can already be slightly acidic and are more susceptible to the effects of acid rain. As you can see on the picture below some trees have started to thin out this is due to acid rain. [image] Lakes are also damaged by acid rain. Fish die off, and that removes the main source of food for birds. Also, birds can die from eating ?toxic? fish and insects and in turn fish can die from eating toxic insects some fish die before they are even born by the eggs being affected by the acid in the lake in some cases a whole generation can be wiped out. Fish usually die only when the acid level of a lake is high; when the acid level is lower, they can become sick, suffer stunted growth, or lose their ability to reproduce. On the left there is a picture showing dead fish, which have been effected by acid rain and on the right a food chain. 250 × 124-19k Architecture, buildings and statues can also be destroyed by acid rain. Acid rain can damage buildings, stained glass, railroad lines, airplanes, cars, steel bridges, and underground pipes. Acid particles land on buildings, causing corrosion as the sulphur reacts with the minerals in the stone to form a powdery substance that can be washed away by rain. This powdery substance is called gypsum. This mainly occurs on sandstone and limestone. Currently, both the railway industry and the airplane industry have to spend a lot of money to repair the corrosive damage done by acid rain. Also, bridges have collapsed in the past due to acid rain corrosion. [image] The factor is human effects. Humans can become seriously ill, and can even die from the effects of acid rain. One of the major problems that acid rain can cause in a human is respiratory problems. Many can find it difficult to breathe, especially people who have asthma. The sulphur dioxides and nitrogen oxides can cause asthma, along with dry coughs, headaches, and throat irritations from acid rain. Plants and animals can absorb acid rain as already stated therefore when humans eat these plants or animals; the toxins inside of their meals can affect them. Brain damage, kidney problems, and Alzheimer?s disease have been linked to people eating ?toxic? animals or plants. What can be done to reduce acid rain? There are many things that can be done to reduce acid rain. Recall how acid rain is produced " acid rain is produced by the atmosphere absorbing the gases emitted from the burning of fossil fuels". We use electricity in our everyday lives and most of the time it is being used for the sake of it for example leaving lights on for that light to be on electricity is being used and for the electricity to be used coal has to be burned which is a fossil fuel therefore giving off the poisonous gases. The main objective for people to think about doing is conserving resources. People should use public transport rather than always travelling by car. This will lower the pollution from car exhausts and therefore less nitrogen oxide will be produced. People all around the world can make efforts to use electricity only when needed and not to waste it i.e. switching lights off and using energy saving appliances. This will reduce the pollution from power plants. Walking, cycling and sharing cars all reduce the pollution from vehicles. What can be done to reduce or repair the damage done by acid rain? There are many things that can be done for this. In the short term some of the environmental damage can be repaired one way of doing this is adding calcium in the form of lime to lakes affected by acid rain this neutralises the acid. In the long term reduce the amount of pollution from burning fossil fuels however due to this taking a long time immediate action needs to take place. Liming lakes is one solution. This is done by boats and occasionally helicopters where it is difficult to reach. Liming can also be used on land. People have started to research new ways to burn fuel, which don?t produce so much pollution. Sulphur can be washed out of smoke by spraying a mixture of water and lime into the smoke stack. Cars can be fitted with catalytic converters, which take out three dangerous chemicals from exhaust gases. Governments could spend more money on pollution control. Long-term actions, international agreements. Many countries are unwilling to act independently because they believe it puts them at an economical disadvantage to other countries. However, international agreements are now taking place. In Europe, sulphur emissions from industry have dropped by about 25% in the last ten years, this is partly due to the economic depression in the 1980?s but also partly because fuel is being used more efficiently. In 1985, 19 countries agreed to reduce sulphur emissions by a further 30%. There are three main technical solutions to reduce the amount of sulphur dioxide getting into the atmosphere. - Sources of coal and oil naturally low in sulphur can be used. - Sulphur can be removed before the fuel is burnt. - Smoke can be washed away with slurry of slime. Energy can be reduced from less polluting sources for example hydro-electric-power, tidal barrages, solar panels, wind power and nuclear power. How practical are theses solutions? Liming is very effective and life in the lake is able to recover for example Sweden and Norway have successfully used liming and at the moment a liming project is going on in Wales, however, poisonous minerals settle on the bottom and can continue to damage plants and animals that live there. Also liming is very expensive and has to be repeated every two to five years for it to be effective. Also liming on land is more difficult because there is so much more of it. Spraying the mixture of water and lime is a fairly good way, however, again it is expensive and would need to be done continuously. Catalytic converters is one of the best ways to reduce emissions and repair the damage done by acid rain the devices change the harmful nitrogen oxides into water, nitrogen and carbon dioxide which is still a pollutant but is less harmful. However, once again the prices of theses cars are fairly high and this will only work with lead free petrol. Many people would not agree with the government spending more money on pollution control, as the cost of electricity would go up. More efficient use of energy reduces the amount of fuel used and the amount of pollution produced. Although the 19 countries agreed to reduce sulphur emissions it is not able to solve the problem. In fact scientists have said "a cut of 80-90% is required to prevent further damage to the Swedish environment. Energy being produced from less polluting sources is a good idea but does have other implications on the environment. What are the different views and attitudes of different groups involved in the debate? Cloud Callout: My opinion. â?œEvery one can do something to reduce pollution. We can save energy by not wasting hot water, turning off lights when they are not needed, reducing central heating thermostat by a couple of degrees, using cars only when it is really necessary taking cans, paper and bottles for recycling and the list can go on to save energy.â? Cloud Callout: A British Citizen. â?œâ??I was shocked to learn that that the British trees and lakes are still dying because of acid rainâ??mind you Iâ??m not too happy about having to pay more for my electricityâ??.â? Cloud Callout: An energy consultant. â?œâ??We believe that our priority should be to improve energy efficiency and conservation. Over 75% of the rains acidity is due to sulphur dioxideâ??from around 40 coal-fired powered stationsâ??closure of some of these will reduce the problem. Cloud Callout: Industrialist. â?œâ??My colleagues are a little peeved at our country being called the â?˜dirty man of Europeâ??. Particularly by the British public. They seem to want the best of both worlds: to have the highest standards of living in the world, but none of the discomforts to go with itâ?. Cloud Callout: An electricity company representative. â?œâ??We produce most of Britainâ??s electricity and most of that is from burning coal. We accept there is a problem. We are considering buying low-sulphur coal from abroad, which will reduce emissions by around 20 %. However some people in the British coal industry will loose their jobs but we are only reacting to public pressure. Cloud Callout: A conservationist. â?œâ??We are very worried about the acid air pollution â??people should be encouraged to use smaller cars. Why not increase taxes on the larger cars? All power stations should be fit with cleaning equipment and much more money spent on developing alternative sources of energy. Cloud Callout: A Government representative from a North European Country. â?œâ??We are suffering through other peoples pollutionâ??but we are the ones paying the bills. Over half of our electricity comes from nuclear powerâ??we are hoping to decrease our emissions by a further 40 % by improving homes by introducing 100%grants for insulation

Acid Rain in Europe 7.5 of 10 on the basis of 1803 Review.