People often look at the world with a jaded eye, seeing and addressing problems, without any knowledge to back them up. To apply this idea to the world we live in, one can look at three basic environmental problems the world faces today; acid rain, ozone depletion, and global warming. Each of the three has can be traced to irresponsible use of synthetic and organic chemicals, each of the three can also be looked at in terms of their chemistry. Without a firm grasp of the science behind these three global concerns (among others) it is far fetched to think that people can have enough comprehension of the facts to create effective means of slowing down and ideally reversing any or all of these three pending catastrophes.
Acid rain has ravaged crops, destroyed eco-systems, and generally been an all around detriment to both natural and human environments. Acid rain is a term for the chemical bonding of certain industrial chemicals and pollutants with condensed water in the atmosphere that contains precipitation with low Ph, or in other words acid rain.
The largest cause of acid rain is sulphur dioxide. Sulphur dioxide is released naturally in the environment through volcanoes, decomposing organic material, and sea spray. The natural occurrence of sulphur dioxide accounts for roughly 45% of all emissions, while industrial, transportation, and other man-created sources account for the rest of the emissions. The following formulas; S (in coal) + O2 SO2, 2 SO2 + O2 2 SO3, and SO3 + H2O H2SO4 are all different formulas in which sulphur dioxide, or other sulphur gasses are combined with oxygen or water in the atmosphere to create acid rain.
rain is prevalent in places where there are many other air pollutants, as ammonia, among others, acts as a catalyst in creating the bonds. Nitric oxide and nitric dioxide is the second largest cause of acid rain, and its combinations with water and hydrogen in the atmosphere are similar. One problem with acid rain is that it does not follow international boundaries. As a result of the way jet streams work, Canada has suffered the most from the effects of American-born sulphur dioxide. This is also the case in many other regions around the world, as many South African and Asian countries have suffered the loss of much vegetation as a result of European, Russian, and Chinese Industrialism. The United states had the largest emissions numbers since the introduction of fossil fuel burning, but has lowered its numbers significantly in the past fifteen years by placing emissions limitations on automobile manufacturers as well as industrial companies. The problem is that in many!
developing countries these laws do not exist, and often times these countries will lack the foresight to limit their emissions in their efforts to gain financial security. Acid rain is a global problem that must be addressed by every country in the world; otherwise the inevitable destruction of vegetation, and eventually the eradication of humanity, will ensue.
Global warming has become a buzz-word in today’s society, and common gripe that is emptily used by many people, despite the fat they do not understand it themselves and are unwilling to accept any responsibility for it. Global warming is the term for the concentration and build up of heat-capturing gasses in the earth’s atmosphere. These gasses are transparent to sunlight, but prevent some heat from escaping, thus increasing the temperature on earth. The average temperature of the earth’s surface today is
approximately 60 degrees Fahrenheit, or 15 degrees Celsius. This is an increase of about 2 or 3 degrees from pre-industrial times. The cause of global warming, as previously stated, is the emissions as resonance of gasses, first and foremost being carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is generally created industrially through fossil fuel burning, although it can also be emitted naturally by living things as well as the same sources of the aforementioned of sulphur dioxide. Since preindustrial times, there has been a 30% increase in green house gasses present in the environment, and if this trend continues, the earth’s average temperature could increase 1.8-6.3 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the twenty-first century. The threat of increased global temperatures comes from the raising of sea levels, the decrease in cold months, and the spread of disease. As the temperature rises, the amount of bacteria will rise with it, creating a potential for huge plagues to ensue. Glo!
bal warming is a very real threat, and although emissions laws are just now starting to be put into effect in the United States, developing countries often have no regard for our laws or the environment. Global warming is a very serious threat that could very possibly destroy mankind, as we know it.
The depletion of the layer of 03, or Ozone, as it is commonly known, is a huge problem facing our planet today. Normal oxygen, O2, is the type of oxygen in the air we breathe, and is very common. Ozone, on the other hand, is so rare that it accounts for only about three in every ten million-air molecules. Ozone, unlike normal oxygen, is very think, with blue color a strong odor. The concentration of Ozone that lies from about 15 to 30 km about the earth’s surface, in the stratosphere, is the Ozone that we all generally refer to. Ozone plays a prolific role in our world due to the fact that it absorbs
rbons (CFCs) were create. They have been usehemical, and the applicaissolve in wate
many of the sun’s ultraviolet rays, including UVB. UVB, larger than normal concentrations, can cause a variety of problems, including skin cancer and cataracts to humans, as well as crop destruction, depletion of some minerals, and even the destruction of some marine life. For over 50 years, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were thought of as miracle substances, they are low in toxicity, inflammable, and inexpensive to create. They have been used in refrigerants, solvents, and inexpensive to use. This created massive production of the chemical, and the applications of the chemical increased greatly, as they were thought harmless. The chemical does not dissolve in water, nor in the presence of many other chemicals. Although it was discovered that they would remain in the lower level of the atmosphere without harm, it was eventually concluded that wind would push them up into the stratosphere, or the ozone. The CFCs are so stable that only exposure to high levels of UV radia!
tion breaks them down. When that happens, the CFC molecule releases atomic chlorine. One chlorine atom can destroy over 100,000 ozone molecules. When this happens, holes are created. The hole over Antarctica is now about 9 million square miles in size, or about the size of North America. CFCs are now mostly banned, but many other chemicals are being discovered to destroy the Ozone as well, including other chlorine-containing compounds, such as methyl-chloroform a solvent, and carbon tetrachloride, an industrial chemical. Halons, an extremely effective fire extinguishing agent, and methyl bromide, an effective produce and soil fumigant, contain bromine, another large Ozone destructant. The government is constantly banning the use of chemicals that destroy the Ozone, but like the previous two issues, under developed countries often pay no mind to our regulations. Skin cancer has increased
greatly in the past fifty years, and will continue to do so until this problem is stabilized. If the Ozone layer is not protected, the world will suffer the consequences, consequences that are extremely sever and capable of ravaging the planet.
The side effects of an industrialized planet have long been forgotten or denied, and when the problems can no longer be covered up, no one wants to take responsibility, and no one wants to sacrifice money to stop them. It is inevitable that the damage we do to the planet will damage us in the long run, but if we don’t all realize this, the damage will also be irreversible. Acid rain, global warming, and ozone depletion are all capable of creating an almost uninhabitable planet on their own, and together they can guarantee the death of a world. Money is important for the inhabitants of this world to ensure themselves life, but caring for the planet is necessary to ensure the world can ensure it’s inhabitants life.