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    Acid Rain Essay Conclusion (699 words)

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    Acid rain is a serious problem with disastrous effects. Each day, this problem increases. Many people believe that this issue is too small to deal with right now. However, this issue should be met head-on and solved before it is too late. In the following paragraphs, I will be discussing the impact of acid rain on wildlife and how our atmosphere is being destroyed by it.

    Causes: Acid rain is eating into the face of Eastern Canada and the Northeastern United States. The main sources of sulphuric acid in Canada are non-ferrous smelters and power generation. Cars and trucks are the main sources of nitric acid (about 40% of the total) on both sides of the border, while power generating plants, industrial, commercial, and residential fuel combustion contribute most of the rest. In the air, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides can transform into sulphuric acid and nitric acid, which can be carried thousands of kilometers from the source by air currents.

    When acids fall to the earth in any form, they can have a large impact on the growth or preservation of certain wildlife. In Ontario, there are NO DEFENCE areas, mainly in southern regions near the Great Lakes, where substances such as limestone or other known antacids can neutralize acids entering the body of water, thereby protecting it. However, in large areas of Ontario near the Precambrian Shield, with quartzite or granite-based geology and little topsoil, there is not enough buffering capacity to neutralize even small amounts of acid falling on the soil and lakes. Therefore, over time, the basic environment shifts from an alkaline to an acidic one. This is why many lakes in the Muskoka, Haliburton, Algonquin, Parry Sound, and Manitoulin districts could lose their fisheries if sulfur emissions are not substantially reduced. The average mean pH of rainfall in Ontario’s Muskoka-Haliburton lake country ranges between 3.

    Acid rain is a serious issue. In some areas, rainfall can be 40 times more acidic than normal. For example, storms in Pennsylvania have a rainfall pH of 2.8, which is almost as acidic as vinegar. This has led to the death or decline of 140 lakes in Ontario, with an additional 48,000 lakes being sensitive and vulnerable to acid rain due to the surrounding acidic soils.

    Acid rain consists of what? Canada does not have as many people, power plants, or automobiles as the United States. Yet, acid rain there has become so severe that Canadian government officials called it the most pressing environmental issue facing the nation.

    But it is important to bear in mind that acid rain is only one segment of the widespread pollution of the atmosphere facing the world. Each year, the global atmosphere receives 20 billion tons of carbon dioxide, 130 million tons of sulfur dioxide, 97 million tons of hydrocarbons, and 53 million tons of nitrogen oxides. Additionally, more than three million tons of arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, nickel, zinc, and other toxic metals, as well as a host of synthetic organic compounds ranging from polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) to toxaphene and other pesticides, are deposited. Some of these compounds may be capable of causing cancer, birth defects, or genetic imbalances.

    Interactions of pollutants can cause problems. In addition to contributing to acid rain, nitrogen oxides can react with hydrocarbons to produce ozone, a major air pollutant responsible for annual losses of $2 billion to $4.5 billion worth of wheat, corn, soybeans, and peanuts in the United States.

    A wide range of interactions can occur with many unknown toxic metals. In Canada, Ontario alone has lost fish in an estimated 4000 lakes. Provincial authorities calculate that Ontario stands to lose fish in 48,500 more lakes within the next twenty years if acid rain continues at the present rate. Ontario is not alone. On Nova Scotia’s easternmost shores, almost every river flowing to the Atlantic Ocean is poisoned with acid, further threatening a $2 million a year fishing industry.

    Acid rain is killing more than just lakes. It can scar the leaves of hardwood forests, wither ferns and lichens, accelerate the death of coniferous needles, sterilize seeds, and weaken the forests to a state that is vulnerable to disease infestation and decay. In the soil, the acid neutralizes chemicals vital for growth, strips others from the soil, and carries them to the lakes, literally retarding the respiration of the soil. The rate of forest growth in the White Mountains of New Hampshire has declined 18% between 1956 and 1965, a time of increasingly intense acidic rainfall. Acid rain no longer falls exclusively on the lakes, forests, and thin soils of the Northeast; it now covers half.

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