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.