Formation of Acid Rain

Formation of Acid Rain

In the wake of development of major environmental problems like global warming, the issue of acid rains remains a bit neglected. Acid rains have destroyed forests, damaged buildings and also caused health problems. The only solution to resolve this problem is reducing industrial and automobile emissions. Instances of acid rains have increased after the onset of Industrial Revolution. John Evelyn, an Englishman however, noted that acid rains had occurred in as early as 17th century. Studying more about formation of acid rains should educate us about the underlying chemical processes involved in this phenomenon.

Acid Rain Formation

The formation of acid rain takes place as a result of many interrelated processes and chemical reactions. However, a short explanation of this phenomenon would be as follows: reaction of nitrogen and sulfur oxides with moisture in the atmosphere forms acid rains. Precipitation of these gases takes place in the form of sulfuric and nitric acids. The acid rains occur when oxides of sulfur and nitrogen come in contact with water. Industries and volcanoes are prime sources of sulfur and nitrogen oxides. Other factors that contribute considerably to the problem are automobile emissions, lightning and forest fires.

Chemical Reactions in Acid Rain Formation
A series of complex reactions take place in the process of acid rain formation. Before getting into the details of chemical reactions, take a look the Buzzle article on causes and effects of acid rains.

Oxidation of SO2
In this process, sulfur dioxide reacts with OH (hydroxyl radical) to form HOSO2. Immediately after this intermediate process, HOSO2 reacts with oxygen; this reaction leads to the formation of water and sulfur trioxide. These reactions can be depicted in a better manner with formulas presented below.


HOSO2 + O2 → SO3 + H2O

Sulfur Trioxide Converts to Sulfuric Acid
The reaction of sulfur trioxide with water forms sulfuric acid.

SO2 + H2O → H2SO3

Nitric Acid Formation
Formation of nitric acid takes place from the reaction between nitrogen dioxide and hydroxyl radical. This reaction can be depicted as below.

NO2 + OH → HNO3

All the reactions illustrated above take place in the gaseous form. Reactions which take place in humid atmosphere are different from that in a dry atmosphere. Continue reading to known more about the chemical processes which take place in liquid state (i.e., inside the clouds). Hydrogen dioxide reacts with water molecules and enters into a series of reactions presented below.

SO2 (g) + H2O is in equilibrium with SO2·H2O

SO2·H2O is in equilibrium with H+ + HSO3

HSO3 is in equilibrium with H+ + SO32−

The acid rains occur in two different forms i.e., wet and dry. The wet acid rains occur as a result of precipitation of acids contained in clouds. Snowfall and rainfall are the two forms of wet acid rains. In dry acids, the gases containing sulfur and nitrogen compounds deposit on the surface of plants, buildings and ground surface. When dry acids get washed off the ground surface by rainwater, dry deposition takes place.

Volcanoes and Acid Rains
Acids formed the by emission of volcanic ash and other materials have a pH of around 4. The acid rain which result from these emissions have a corrosive effect. Sources of drinking water too, are polluted by the occurrence of acid rains. The pH of acids precipitated by emissions of the infamous Poas Volcano is 2. Acid rains caused by this volcano are responsible for health problems and destruction of forests; irritation of eyes and lungs also is caused by these rains.

Understanding the process of formation of acid rains is important since it is one of the major environmental problems. Acid rains are considered to be far more dangerous than other environment issues because of the damage they cause. We should all try our bit to reduce air pollution through judicious use of petrol and other fuels.

Obama Heading to Copenhagen Seeking Climate Change Deal

Complex and difficult climate change negotiations are ongoing in Copenhagen among the world's leaders and President Obama is hoping to be the catalyst for broad agreement.
President Obama is going to make a quick trip to Copenhagen on Friday to meet with other world leaders and discuss the realities of broad-reaching agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address global climate change. The problem that many analysts see for Obama at this point is that his credibility in Copenhagen is already going to be called into question. While the U.S. and other world powers are seeking assurances from developing nations, as well as China and India, that greenhouse gas emission reduction is going to be a real priority, many European countries already claim that the U.S. falls short of doing its part in the fight against global warming.

So no matter what Obama proposes or says, he's going to be met with resistance. If he leans toward increasing U.S. commitments on climate change, then he's likely going to draw the ire of Republicans and others domestically who believe that the U.S. must protect its interests first when negotiating to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Such opponents will call for greater commitments from the economies of China and India, where the U.S. is sure to face fierce competition in the coming years and decades.

Hillary Clinton has been in Copenhagen and pledged U.S. financial aid to poor nations who do not possess the financial resources to appropriately police and enforce programs calling for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. When one stops to think of the sheer enormity of the undertaking that is being suggested, you have to wonder about its viability on even the most fundamental level. Who is going to stop those in China or India - or some third world country - from creating whatever emissions they deem necessary to achieve whatever means they deem to constitute progress. It sounds impossible.

Osama Bin Laden Bashes U.S. on Climate Change

The al Qaeda leader released a tape on Friday that blames the U.S. and Western economies for climate change and called for boycott of all U.S. goods.
In what would seem to be a fairly politicized message from the normally jihad-focused al Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden's most recent tape attacks the U.S. for its role in...climate change? This tape is perhaps the first glimpse for many Americans into the complexity of Bin Laden and the depth of his distrust and hatred of all things American and Western. Bin Laden explains in his tape that American economic policies are to blame for many of the world's problems, including chronic poverty and desertification, among several others.

In his message, Bin Laden calls on his followers to boycott all U.S. products and explains that the only way to bring about real change is to free the world from its dependence on America as an economic engine. This message mirrors much of the political talk in America that is currently driving a push toward greener policies and a drastic reduction in America's dependency on foreign oil. In both instances, it appears that the goal is for more self-sufficiency and ingenuity, which would ultimately be a good thing for everyone involved.

Bin Laden also declared that a world goal should be to remove the U.S. dollar as the dominant international currency for global commerce. Bin Laden acknowledged that these things would all be quite difficult, but he insisted that doing so is the only sure path to a better global future and freedom from U.S. oppression around the world.

UN Climate Talks Moving Full Steam Ahead

Climate talks in Cancun, Mexico have been much more successful than previous conferences, and by Friday a global climate could be in place.
Future cuts in carbon emissions and strictly monitoring countries’ actions were at the forefront of UN climate talks that are moving into their final stages this week. The talks, which include 193 nations, will end on Friday, and various government ministers and leaders have been applying as much political force as they dare in order to move toward a nearly global accord. The meetings, occurring in Cancun, Mexico, are pressuring many government officials to cobble together at least a preliminary agreement in order to restore some confidence in the summit, the last of which, in Copenhagen, failed to produce a binding agreement.

Noted Connie Hedegaard, "We cannot leave Cancun empty-handed." That was the sentiment of many at the conference which, among other things, seeks to establish a so-called "green fund" to help financially challenged nations reduce greenhouse gases, make it easier for nations to obtain patented green technology and compensate poorer nations for maintaining forested areas. Noted Hedegaard, "These texts cover all the elements for a balance package, and that is good. We have a basis to work from this week."

One major breakthrough of the conference came when China agreed to allow other countries within the group to review climate initiatives that have received financing internationally. The Chinese then agreed to open up all their initiatives – including those funded solely by the Chinese state – to international review. Altogether, the strides forward have been fairly significant, but by Friday even greater clarity should be achieved and we will know if a global accord has been reached.

Causes of Climate Change

High levels of industrial pollution and a number of man-induced processes have resulted in climate change. The various natural and human causes of the catastrophe are responsible for the drastic shift in average weather, global warming and variations in solar radiation...

Climate Change

Our planet is unique in its ability to support life. However, within the limitations of our understanding of the terms evolution and progress, we humans have contributed to a number of disastrous climate change triggers. Some of them are:
Increased carbon dioxide emissions.
Increase in greenhouse gas levels.
Increase in land, water and air pollution levels.
Climate change refers to a long-term change in the average weather patterns over a specific region, over a significant period of time. The abnormal variations cause subsequent effects on the Earth's atmosphere and significant regions like the polar ice caps and the natural habitat of different life forms. The various causes of climate change are identified and measured with the help of environmental policies that keep periodical track of environmental damage and the shift in any or all the dynamic Earth processes. The triggers are all interrelated human activities as well as external factors, and collectively take a toll on 'climate forcing'. In climate science, climate forcing relates to the change in net irradiance, calculated at tropopause.

Causes of Climate Change

The effect of climate change on the planet and various life forms that inhabit it manifests over an extended period of time. The internal variability is recognized in the form of hysteresis. In this measure, the climate change recorded does not correlate or correspond to planned input. However, climate change is not only the cause of rapid deterioration of our environment, but is also irreversible. Some of the major causes of climate change are:

Solar variation
There are a number of variations in solar activity that have been observed through the study of sunspots and beryllium isotopes. The sun provides the Earth with heat energy, an integral part of our climate. Solar variation has triggered a phenomenon called global warming.

Orbital variation
The elliptical path taken by the Earth around the sun plays a significant role in the distribution and amount of sunlight that reaches the Earth's surface. These Milankovitch cycles have a direct impact on glacial activity. The eccentricity, precession and axial tilt of the Earth, along the elliptical path, creates changes in seasons.

Plate tectonics
The landmass on the planet is made up of plate tectonics that shift, rub against one another and even drift apart. This results in the repositioning of continents, wear and tear of the mountains, large-scale carbon storage and increased glaciation.

Volcanic action
In the course of volcanism, material from the Earth's core and mantle is brought to the surface, as a result of the heat and pressure generated within. Phenomenon like volcanic eruptions and geysers release particulates into the Earth's atmosphere, that affect climate.

Thermohaline circulation
Climate changes also result from the atmosphere-ocean relationship. Climate fluctuations such as the El NiƱo Southern oscillation and the Arctic oscillation act as heat reservoirs within the oceans. Thermohaline circulation refers to the redistribution of heat via slow and deep oceanic currents.

Human influences
There are a number of anthropogenic factors that are responsible for change in the Earth's environment. The result of human influence on the climate is not only direct, but also unambiguous. Increase in carbon dioxide levels arising from fossil fuel combustion, release of aerosols or particulate matter, extensive land use and deforestation have resulted in severe climatic change.

Factors known as 'feedback' either amplify or reduce the effect of climate change on human life. These feedback comprise a number of interconnected processes that trigger a shift in related or subsequent changes in the Earth's climate. Among the most significant indicators of climate change on the planet are glaciers, vegetation, permafrost regions, fossil palynomorphs and global average sea levels.

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