One of the most devastating effects of global warming is commonly referred to as acid rain. Scientists also refer to it as acid deposition, however, it doesnt matter what you call it, what matters is the impact that global warming and acid rain have on the planet. Both wet and dry acid depositions have a significant impact on delicate ecosystems, manmade structures and even on man (humans) himself.
Wet and Dry Effects of Global Warming and Acid Rain
Actually, acid rain is really caused by fossil fuels being burned which then leads to acids in the atmosphere being picked up by water as it falls to earth, depositing it where it lands. This sets in motion a series of adverse effects on the ecology that can take two forms, dry or wet. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide gases are released when the gases from burning fossil fuels mix with water vapor in the air. This results in sulfuric and nitric acids that are both highly corrosive. Wind currents can carry these acids along until fog, rain or snow carry them back to earth. Dry acid rain refers to acidic particulates that are carried by the wind and deposited on buildings, vegetation, automobiles and other objects. Because of their corrosive nature, these acids are known to cause major damage to both the ecology as well as to manmade structures.
The Effect of Global Warming and Acid Rain on Ecosystems
Recently, scientific research has shown that some ecosystems are unable to neutralize acid depositions as they once were able to do. This in turn significantly delays lakes, streams and forests from recovering from chemicals that have been deposited. It was the hope of many concerned citizens that the passage of the 190 Clean Air Act Amendments would have solved this problem once and for all. Unfortunately, although acid depositions that resulted from sulfur emissions have declined significantly, acid rain due to nitrogen emissions has not been impacted to any great degree. As a matter of fact, there is some evidence that this particular problem has even intensified in some areas of the United States. Unfortunately, the very same emissions and resultant acids that cause acid rain are also responsible for other effects on the environment such as climate change, smog and even contamination of fish by mercury. The effects of acid depositions on the ecosystem are many and far-reaching.
By better understanding the causes and impacts of acid rain, it is hoped that one day a viable permanent solution can be found. It appears that the best solution seems to be to significantly reducing the amount of fossil fuels being burned, however, that is no small undertaking. Over time science is finding alternative and renewable fuels to use in place of fossil fuels, but at present, that only accounts for less than 10% of all energy utilized. With time and advancements in alternative energy, acid rain can perhaps be eliminated, but by that point in time, the damage may be eternal.