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Emily Swope
Dr. Semih Eser
6 March 2014
The Dangers of Acid Rain
Acid rain as discussed in Energy: A Beginners Guide by Vaclav Smil is
becoming an increasing concern in our world today. Not only is this concern very real
and serious, it also needs to be better addressed. Societys dependence on certain
resources has caused several environmental threats to emerge, and acid rain is one of
these serious threats based on human actions today. The burning of fossil fuels through
cars, power plants, and appliances is contributing to an increase in acid rain. Acid rain
affects the ecosystem and the surrounding environment in countless negative ways. There
will come a point in time when the world will be faced with the question of whether
destroying the environment was worth it to have fossil fuels, and whether this could have
been prevented. The truth is that reducing acid rain is possible if there is enough concern
for action to be taken. I am interested in acid rain for this reason; it can cause so much
damage based on personal and collective choices yet little is done to stop it. Acid rain has
dangerous, instantaneous effects on the greater environment and it is irresponsible for
society today to not take powerful action on this issue.
Acid rain occurs when sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are released into the air
from fossil fuels. These particles are transported by wind and eventually deposited
(Underdal and Hanf 22). The particles, in turn, are combined with precipitation and cause
damage through acidification, thus the name acid rain (Underdal and Hanf 23). While
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acid rain is known in this form as precipitation, it exists in other ways too. This can
include fog, snow, and other forms (Acid Rain). Acid rain is created from the burning
of fossil fuels, mainly caused by power plants and the generation of electricity. Other
things contribute as well such as the use of cars and devices like heaters. Therefore,
humans play a large role in creating acid rain. Because of this, there are ways to control it
if one changes certain habits in his or her life.
Acid rain needs to be controlled for a variety of reasons. The environment is
affected in ways that can be seen instantly. While acid rain has so many negative effects,
the worst effects are seen in aquatic areas such as lakes, streams, and oceans (Acid
Rain). It hurts forests, animals, and life in general. With acid rain, the habitat of living
organisms becomes victim to pollutants, which they cannot easily adapt to. There are
some organisms that can handle acid rain better than others, but when acid rain affects
one organism, it can affect numerous others based on the food chain that exists around
that organism. Furthermore, acid rain hurts forests and trees, which also need to be
protected for the future.
There are many changes humans can make in their lifestyles to help decrease the
amount of acid rain. Currently the SO
being released around the world is about 160
Tg/per year due to the burning of fossil fuels. This amount is two times larger than the
amount of SO
released naturally. This is also true for NO, where the output made by
humans is larger than the output made naturally (Robin, Srlin, Warde 484). This means
that society is contributing greatly to the increase in sulfur dioxide

and nitrogen oxides.
One way that this can be reduced is through laws and regulations that are enacted to
lower the amount of fossil fuel used. Individual efforts could be implemented such as
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increased carpooling, which would use less gas, or through less reliance on heating
systems as examples. Also, the issue of acid rain could be improved by the development
of alternative energy sources where coal and oil do not have to be burned. These could
include solar and hydroelectric energy systems.
Acid rain is destroying the environment and needs to be reduced as quickly as
possible. Solutions are available and therefore humans have choices to make that will
determine the future. Making sacrifices to limit the use of fossil fuels may seem difficult
in the short term but it would be worthwhile in the long run. With all of the evidence that
exists of acid rain hurting the environment, it is clear it cannot be ignored and the health
of the planet cannot be taken for granted.

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Works Cited
Acid Rain. National Geographic. National Geographic, n.d. Web. 01 Mar. 2014.
Robbin, Libby, Sverker Srlin, and Paul Warde. The Future of Nature: Documents of
Global Change. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013. Print.
Underdal, Arild, and Kenneth Hanf. International Environmental Agreements and
Domestic Politics: The Case of Acid Rain. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000. Print.