Acid rain spares nothing. Its effects are vast. It affects plants by destroying its roots, causing stunting or even death. Increased acidity in the soil, resulting from acidic rain, causes destruction of its nutrients which dissolve or decay in the acidic medium. Saprophytic microorganisms present are also destroyed. Acid rain falling on leaves dissolves its waxy layer. Damage to this layer makes the plant more prone to diseases and vulnerable to the effects of drying. Germination of seeds and reproduction are also inhibited. Eventually, the plants become weak and are unable to stand adverse climate, such as strong winds and rain. Ultimately, there is wide spread deforestation. ("Effects of Acid," 2007)
(Environmental Statistics, 2007)
The effects of acid rain, causing deforestation, have been observed in many places. Examples include eastside of Penn's state in Norway, trees in Scandinavia, southeastern Canada and northeastern United States. In the graph shown above, countries with a greater area of deforested land also have high sulphur dioxide emission rates. With massive deforestation, the soil loses its ability to hold itself together. Also, with lesser trees available to absorb water, there is massive surface run off causing deposition of silt in rivers and canals. Rivers which were initially protected to a certain degree from acid rain because of the soil's buffering capacity and less surface run off, will eventually also experience its disastrous outcome. ("Effects of acid," 2007)
Acid rain can fall directly on river, lakes and streams or can seep in through the soil. Their average PH is between 6 and 8. The PH decreases progressively as the streams become more and more acidic. In a survey conducted on over one thousand lakes greater than ten acres and on thousands of miles of streams in the United States, about seventy fiver percent of lakes and fifty percent of streams were found to be acidic. The areas corresponding to the acidic lakes and streams were, Adirondaks and Catskill Mountains in New York, the mid Appalachian highlands along the east coast, the upper Midwest and the mountainous regions of Western United States. ("Effects of acid," 2008)
Once the water becomes acidic, it causes it to leech aluminum from its surrounding soil. This makes the water toxic to many species of aquatic life. Certain species can tolerate aluminum better than others. However, as these toxins accumulate along the food chain, species on the top of the food chain, such as birds, might be affected the most. Accumulated toxins in fish can cause it to have a lower body weight and makes it less fit for survival. Eventually, certain species of fish may entirely disappear affecting the biodiversity of life underwater. ("Effects of acid," 2008)
If acid rain is not controlled, many disastrous effects can take place. Agriculture crops will be damaged, leading to widespread starvation and deaths. Destruction of famous monuments will also affect the tourism industry. The economic loss due to acid rain is already being experienced in many countries. China has calculated this loss to be sixty billion dollars in China alone. Human health will also be adversely affected. Eventually with increasing amounts of sulphur dioxide emissions, even the healthy will have to move around with oxygen tanks. Many species of plants and animals might be led to, or near extinction. Today, the global average forested land is only around thirty one percent. (Environmental Statistics, 2007). With continued emissions, this may reduce even further, causing loss of many habitats. Accumulated aluminum toxicity may itself have many adverse effects on all life forms. The cumulative effect will be a great fall in biodiversity, both on land and in water.
Most parts of the world do realize the gravity of the problem. Pressure from environmental agencies has also increased. Governments from most part of the world have drawn plans to decrease sulphur dioxide emissions and decrease the adverse effects of acid rain. Lakes with a low PH can be treated with quick lime (an alkali) that neutralizes the acidity. This process is called liming. Quick lime is also added in the soil used for agriculture. However, liming on a large scale is economically unfeasible, therefore, prevention is the best solution. In most parts of the world, laws have been formulated to minimize this threat. For example, the European commission in Europe, has formulated laws…