If it was possible to peer into the future and see the environmental consequences of mankind’s actions, humans’ harmful contributions to the highly acidic rain levels would be apparent. Seeing the possibility of a tragic environment in the future would change the ways we treat our environment today and forever. The environment receives its main punishments from a variety of sources, ranging from car smog to industrial smog and waste. Acid rain, fog, sleet and snow all have severely harmful affects on our environment. In order to protect our environment, humans need to be conscious of the results of their actions and act responsibly to slow down, if not stop, the negative effects of acid rain on our plant, animal and human life.
Acid rain is rain with a low PH level. A scale ranging from zero to fourteen defines the ph scale, with zero representing the most acidic, fourteen representing the most basic ph levels and seven representing neutral. Acid rain can formulate from sulfur and nitrogen, which is emmited by cars and coal fired generators. America and Europe are the leaders in the war against acid rain, and are fighting to protect our health and environment. One way these two regions are attempting to reduce acid rain is by encouraging the use of natural gases rather than coal in power plants. This is useful because natural gases contain less sulfur. Acid rain is detrimental to all living organisms and needs to be decreased.
Acid rain affects the entire environment, especially plants and animals. One of the most harmful effects acid rain has on the ecosystem is its destruction of plant life. Acid rain containing highly acidic ph levels also greatly affects animal lives. After falling, acid rain flows directly from the plants, through the watershed and into a stream, river or lake, where it can dramatically affect aquatic life. During the flow of acid rain through soils and into the watershed system, aluminum is picked up and dispersed into the nearby streams, rivers and lakes. Aquatic life can live with a below normal acid level, but the additional aluminum deposited into the reservoir greatly affects the fish. All breathing organisms are also affected by the acid rain pollutants distributed into the air. The major source of these air pollutants is nitrogen oxide from vehicles and industrial sites where fossil fuels are burned. Forest fires, often caused either deliberately or accidentally by man, are another source of pollution. Ironically enough the polluter ends up being the polluted.
Humans are affected by their own mistakes. Mankind depends upon plants and animals for food. Due to acid rain, the entire supply of fish in certain lakes has been wiped out. In addition to loss of plant and animal life as food sources, acid rain gets into the food we eat, the water we drink, as well as the air we breathe, and it doesn’t stop there. Acid rain also affects the buildings we live in and the cars we drive. There are changes we can make to save ourselves and the environment. To help with acid rain problems environmentalists have come up with some astounding and revolutionary ideas. One idea is to lower the use of fossil fuels by using cars operating on battery power and fuel cells, which in turn will lower the negative affects acid rain has on our environment. The changes we have put our environment through can be reversed.
In order to protect our environment, humans need to act responsibly to help slow down, if not stop, the negative effects acid rain has on our plant, animal and human life before it is too late. The effects of acid rain have been a very controversial issue because the environmental concerns associated with acid rain conflict with our capitalistic society. Humans are improving their lives with inventions such as the automobile and industrial plants, but these inventions are damaging the environment which is necessary for human survival. Despite all the negative aspects associated with acid rain and the depletion of our food and water sources, there is good news. We learn from our mistakes. Changing our actions now would not solely better our own lives, but would also benefit all of mankind in the future.
Essay Example 2: Pollution Acid Rain
Pollution occurs when a substance is added to the environment at such a fast rate that it cannot be broken down, stored or recycled in the air, land, or water in a non-damaging form. Pollutants cause pollution.
Acid rain occurs when pollutants that come from burning fossil fuels and contain sulfur, nitrogen or carbon mix with water vapor in the air and turn into acidic water which falls as precipitation.
When this acid precipitation gets into lakes and rivers they can become too acidic for fish and plants. Water with a pH level below 5.6 is considered acidic.
Pollutants move from level to level in a food chain. The pollutants get stored in the tissues of organisms that are exposed to the pollutants. More pollutants are found in top level consumers because they eat more organisms and so they get the pollutants from every thing they eat. This is called bioaccumulation or biomagnification.
Succession and Changes in Ecosystems
Changes are constantly occurring in an ecosystem. Some changes happen very quickly and are referred to as sudden change. An example of sudden change would be a landslide instantly destroying an ecosystem, or a forest fire destroying an entire forest. Other changes are slow and are referred to as gradual change. For example seeds may get carried by wind or by water and end up taking root in cracks in a vacant lot and eventually end up resulting in a new population of plants. If the conditions are good perhaps the new population of plants will replace other plants that were already growing. Succession is the process by which some species gradually replace other species in an ecosystem.
In succession, Organisms present at one stage change the environment so that the next group of organisms can move in.
If succession occurs in an area that was previously bare, such as rock this is called primary succession. Example: A volcano erupts leaving an area covered in hard volcanic rock and over time a lush island is formed.
Secondary succession occurs in an area that previously had a number of organisms.
Example: When a forest burns down the slow process of secondary succession takes place.
Humans also affect ecosystems by using pesticides to kill unwanted organisms. Using pesticides can cause other organisms to die as well. These other organisms are called non-target species. This disrupts fragile relationships in an ecosystem:
One alternative to pesticides is using biological controls. A biological control is an organism that feeds on a pest. For example, the black dot spurge beetle was introduced to feed on a weed called the leafy spurge or lady bugs can be used to control aphids.
Introduced species, also called exotic species, are living things that are not naturally found in an ecosystem. They are often introduced by humans to an ecosystem. This can happen accidentally or on purpose.
Often introduced species thrive in their new ecosystems because they do not have any natural predators and as a result, they can take over an ecosystem by using up all of the available resources.
If an organism no longer exists anywhere in the world it is said to be extinct. The loss of an organism’s home or habitat is the main reason why some many species are threatened with extinction. Humans have cleared land for farming and to build their homes, cities and roads. These activities destroy animal habitats. In order to try to prevent species from becoming endangered and going extinct scientists observe and monitor changes to the environment.
Environmental monitoring, also called ecosystem monitoring, is a way to check the condition of the environment. Both biotic and abiotic parts of the environment can be monitored
There are 4 types of ecosystem monitoring:
1) Physical monitoring uses satellite pictures to monitor changes in the land over a period of time.
2) Environmental monitoring tracks changes in climate, temperature and weather patterns.
3) Chemical monitoring checks the quality of air, soil, and water
4) Biological monitoring tracks the changes in organisms or populations of organisms like toads, foxes, deer…
When Do We Monitor?
Continuous monitoring allows scientists to identify the changes in an environment over time.
We can monitor an area before or after a disturbance. The goal of environmental monitoring is to balance the needs of humans with the needs of other organisms in the ecosystem.
Organisms that are sensitive to environmental changes are called indicator species. They ‘indicate’ to us if there is a change in the environment.
Amphibians are indicator species. They are affected by pesticides, acid rain, loss of habitat, and the introduction of exotic species. Scientists from all over the world have started to notice a decline in the number of amphibian species and an increase in the number of deformed amphibians.
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