Detrimental Effects of Acid Rain Essay

Detrimental Effects of Acid Rain Essay

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When sulfur and nitrogen oxides are emitted into the atmosphere they quickly oxidize and convert to gaseous acids, then return to the earth as acidic compounds in what is known as acid rain. On any ecosystem the precipitation falls one can see detrimental effects. When falling into a body of water it increases the pH decreasing fish population and biodiversity. Similarly on forest floor it increases the acidity of the soil weakening trees and other plants. Sulfur and Nitrogen oxides are emitted into the environment from both natural and manmade sources. The largest manmade contributor of these emissions is from fossil fuel combustion occurring in coal power generating plants used in many countries around the world largely U.S.A, Russia, India, and China. In the United States the acid rain debate occurred in the 1980’s to 2000’s between environmental organizations, coal and utility sectors whether these power plants should have more rigorous pollution restrictions.^1 It was a very public debate addressed by many; scientists and politicians included. All advocates used media outlets to defend and share their arguments. The rise in public knowledge on the controversy was enough to pressure the government and cause positive change.
It was no debate that acid rain was damaging the environment, but some would have debated that there was not enough scientific backing emissions reductions would reduce the occurrence of acid rain. Whereas environmentalists argued that burning of fossil fuels was, and still is, the primary cause and any way to reduce omissions should be taken regardless of higher costs to power plants. Even with enough evidentiary support to pin point the increase of acid deposition on the burning of coal it was a diff...


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...t in June of 1989 the new president George Bush proposed to make amendments to the clean air act, a legislation made to reduce air pollution. The act was passed in 1990 issuing higher emissions for all industrial sources of air pollution. These guidelines forced industries to develop and employ new sulfur emitting technologies and strategies. Such as burning low sulfur coal, washing sulfur out of coal and installing sulfur scrubbers in their factories.
Through the media this act was able to come to be and sulfur emissions have decreased by 50% since the 1980’s. However acid rain remains a problem. It has been overshadowed, forgotten, and lost its publicity. It is tragic that a problem has to be threatening to gain the coverage needed. But when a scandal as large as the acid rain debate occurs, it is a marvel what a positive change the power of press can achieve.

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