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Acid Rain Legislation Essay, Research Paper

Acid Rain Legislation

Acid rain is a destructive force as a result of nature and man colliding.

It is formed through harmful industrial emissions combining with contents of

the earth’s atmosphere; a dangerous combination. This prompted governments

throughout North America to take action. Many laws and regulations have been

implemented, yet the question still remains, “Should tougher legislation be

implemented to force industries to reduce acid rain emissions?”

To decide whether tougher legislation should be implemented, one must

first understand the details of what exactly acid rain is. Acid rain is a

result of mankind’s carelessness. It travels a long one of the most efficient

biogeochemical cycles on earth, the Hydrologic Cycle. This allows acid rain to

distribute itself further away from it’s source causing more than local problems.

Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) is released by fossil fuels when they undergo combustion.

Power plants and other fossil fuel burning industrial areas release various

forms of nitrous oxides (Nox). These two chemical compounds combine with the

water in the atmosphere to form what is known as acid rain.

The main reason that has prompted legislation of industrial emissions

from governments is because of the negative effects they can have on the

environment. Acid rain is harmful to the environment because of it’s low pH.

It can harm the biotic components of earth, and also the abiotic components.

It’s high acidity degrades soil to the point where it cannot support any type of

plant life. Trees in forests are killed over long-term exposure. When these

trees are killed, an imbalance in the hydrologic cycle can occur. Without

living trees to consume the precipitate, it must be consumed by the earth or any

other plants. These will receive an excess of water, causing other problems in

the hydrologic cycle. This in turn causes a chain reaction of death among our

forests. Some regions are more susceptible to acid rain because they don’t have

enough Alkaline soil to “neutralize” the acid before it is able to destroy the

rest of the soil or before it can run off into lakes or rivers. Aquatic

environments can be greatly affected by soil runoff. Acidic soil may runoff

into lakes and rivers due to erosion, causing acid rain to destroy more

environment. Acid rain aquatic animals as well as aquatic plant life. When

acid rain combines with water in major bodies of water, it not only destroys

wildlife habitat, it destroys our drinking water. An aquatic ecosystem is very

dependent on each and every aspect within itself. Once one species dies off,

others that depend on it, will eventually begin to die off also. This

systematic chain continues until the entire body of water is completely abiotic.

The reason acid rain is so effective in destroying ecosystems is because it

harms everything in that particular ecosystem. Being distributed through the

hydrologic cycle, acid rain is capable of destroying everything in it’s path.

Many laws and agreements have been implemented by governments in North

America to reduce acid rain emissions. The question governments are asking is:

“Are these regulations enough?”. One of the more famous laws/organizations

implemented by North American governments was the “Clean Air Act” which was

signed in 1991. Also in 1991, Canada signed an agreement with the United states

concerning air quality. Media explains that the agreement has enough framework

to address all transboundary air pollution issues. It is a very broad/general

agreement that should highly reduce air pollution between these two major

countries of the world. This agreement contains other specific commitments for

emissions reductions relating to acid rain precursors and research as well as a

commitment to review the Agreement in it’s fifth year. This allows for

expansion of the agreement in the near future. Research and studies forced by

this agreement is also an intelligent decision among these countries; education

is the basis of all knowledge. Besides agreements and legislations of sorts,

technology is an awesome force in the reduction of acid rain emissions. The

only down side to this technology is that it is extremely expensive. Scrubbers

have been placed in the smokestacks to remove harmful emissions. Lime is used

in lakes to “neutralize” the low pH levels. Without studies being conducted and

research being taken out on acid rain, these technologies would not be here

today. This is why education may be the ultimate technology in the reduction of

acid rain emissions.

Should tougher legislation be implemented to force industry to reduce

acid rain emissions? From an environmental point of view…yes, anything that

can be done, should be done. Whether it be through studies, research, new

technologies, anything for our environment. From an economical point of

view…no, technology is very expensive and hardly affordable in terms of most

industries. Technology can reduce the dangers of acid rain, but at what cost?

Tougher legislation should be implemented to preserve our environments, to

preserve our lifestyle, and life on earth.


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