Any kind of precipitation having acidic components is referred to as Acid Rain. Acid Rain has various meanings and could refer to a wet precipitation or a dry precipitation including dust and gases.
Long Essay on Acid Rain in English
In the following long essay we will go through the major components of Acid Rain as well as its causes and effects. In the end we will discuss solutions for reducing or eliminating the occurrences of Acid Rain.
Long Essay on Acid Rain (1200 words)
Acid Rain is a broad term used to refer any kind of precipitation with acidic components. The main acidic components of Acid Rain are Sulphuric Acid (H2SO4) and Nitric Acid (HNO3). Acid Rain occurs as a consequence of environmental pollution by the use of fossil fuels and also by some natural causes such as eruption of a volcano or strike of lightening. In the following long essay we will discuss in detail about the causes, effects and solutions of Acid Rains to provide you more knowledge on the subject.
Causes of Acid Rain
- Electric Power Plants
Number of human activities releases different amount of gases in the environment causing huge compositional disturbances. Electricity generation power plants using fossil fuels are a main source of SO2 and NOX gases, which are two potent gases responsible for Acid Rain. These gases released as byproduct, rise very high in the atmosphere and get mixed with water, oxygen and other gases changing their chemical composition and making them more acidic. Sulphur Dioxide and Nitrogen Oxide dissolve with water and other chemicals in the atmosphere and form Sulphuric Acid (H2SO4) and Nitric Acid (HNO3) respectively. The formation of these acids increases the acidity of water lowering its pH and consequently resulting in Acid Rain. A single power plant utility generates million tons of SO2 and NOX gases annually.
- Transportation Pollution
Transportation is another human activity involving extensive use of fossil fuels thereby releasing Nitrogen Oxide and Sulphur Dioxide as byproducts. Vehicles on the road are a potent source of NOX as well as SO2. With more number of vehicles adding up every day and in the absence of an effective regulatory mechanism for reducing emissions, more Nitrogen Oxide is released into the air causing acidification and resulting in Acid Rain.
- Volcanic Eruptions
Volcanic eruptions are also credited with causing acidic rain. Huge volcanic eruptions release different kind of elements and chemicals into the atmosphere which reaches high altitude mixing with water and other gases. This mixing of chemicals and gases released by volcanoes in the presence of environmental elements, increases their acidity resulting in acidic precipitation.
- Increase in Environmental CO2
Though Carbon Dioxide at present is not much responsible for Acid Rain, but given the rate at which its environmental concentration is increasing the day is not far when CO2 will be the main cause of the occurrence of Acid Rain. Huge amounts of Carbon Dioxide are being emitted into the environment by industries and other pollutants. Carbon Dioxide has already started acidifying our oceans, and will soon gain enough environmental presence so as to cause Acid Rain. In the year 2008 by studying rocks belonging to 4 billion years ago, scientists estimated that the concentration of Carbon Dioxide at that time would have been 10000 times than what it is now. It is a quantity which could cause highly acidic rain, strong enough to melt rocks.
Effects of Acid Rain
Acid Rain has varied adverse effects on humans as well as natural ecosystem as given below-
- Acidification of Water Bodies
The first victims of Acid Rain are our water bodies like Lakes, Ponds and Rivers. On the occurrence of Acid Rain the acidic water is absorbed by soil and reaches ground water reserves making them acidic. Also Acid Rain turns water bodies like lakes and rivers acidic and rendering them useless.
- Extinction of Marine Life
Acid Rain causes acidity of the water bodies making it difficult for many aquatic species to survive. Few aquatic species of fish are susceptible to even minor changes in the acidity resulting in their extinction. For some fishes or underwater animals, acidification of water may result in extinction of their food source, threatening their survival. Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is also on the verge of extinction due to acidification of ocean due to Acid Rain and Global Warming.
- Damage to the Forests
Acid Rains have a huge impact on the strength of trees, thereby threatening the overall existence of forest. Acid Rain weakens the overall structure of trees as well as damages their roots making them easily susceptible to collapse in case of strong winds or storms. Acid Rain thus disturbs the whole ecological system of an otherwise healthy forest, making the survival of all living species difficult.
- Damage to the Monuments
Despite having environmental effects, Acid Rain can considerably damage the structures build by humans. Metallic structures such as transmission towers, communication towers and equipments as well as monuments of historical importance may get considerably damaged by the occurrence of Acid Rain. An Acid Rain with considerably lower pH value can permanently damage the strength and look of monuments as well as scientific equipments.
Solutions to Acid Rains
The only viable solution of Acid Rain is to reduce the emission of gases like Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) and Nitrogen Oxide (NOX) into the atmosphere by human activity. Some of the solutions to eliminate Acid Rain are given below-
- Reducing Emissions from Power Plants.
Electricity generating power plants using fossil fuels are a potent source of Sulphur Dioxide and Nitrogen Oxides. One of the immediate measures that we could take in order to reduce their emission is by decreasing the demand of electricity. Every time we regulate the use of electricity we contribute our bit towards reducing Acid Rain and its hazardous effects.
- Strict Government Policies
Strict government policies should be formed regulating the use of fossil fuels as well as the production of hazardous gases as a byproduct and their proper implementation should be ensured by the respective governments. Government must also find out new methods for effective utilization of produced gases. For example if the produced Sulphur Dioxide is prevented from escaping into the atmosphere then it could be converted into Sulphuric Acid for other useful purposes.
- Reducing Transportation Pollution
A more effective way in reducing the occurrence of Acid Rain is by reducing the emission of Nitrogen Oxide and Sulphur Dioxide by transport vehicles. This could be done by switching to alternate modes of transportation like electric vehicles or even car pooling. Also new technological advancements are needed to further reduce the environmental footprint of vehicle emission.
- Use of Lime Stone
Use of Limestone also helps in reducing the acidity of water and retaining its neutrality. Despite being expensive it is a potential solution towards retaining our water bodies and ensuring the existence of species depending on them. This method is called ‘Liming’ and is extensively used in Sweden to reduce the acidity of lakes and water bodies.
Acid Rain is an effect of human induced causes and the solution also lies in our hands. Acid Rain is already causing considerable damage to the environment having varied implications. It damages the ecosystem, pollutes the natural resources, damages forests, damages human life and threatens the existence of land as well as marine species. Acid Rain is not at all a small problem but a bigger one which needs to be addressed immediately. Luckily the situation is still under control and we must act together towards reducing the effects and occurrence of Acid Rain.