From the day that man discovered fire and ever since his creation he has needed energy in every step of his life.
The introduction of engines has brought about and increasing demand in the need for fuel. Fossil fuel has been used for over a century to this date. It is the over use of this resource that brings about in the minds of every nation now. The increase and advancement of technology has served as an incentive to the ultilisation of fossil fuels, top of the list is coal and petrol. Coal is used in many industries world wide and different fractions of petrol are used in different ways. The reserves of both the fuels are now dwindling and there is a fear that if we don't find an alternative to fossil fuels we may not have enough energy for the future. America has already realised energy shortage and so many proposals have been suggested to find the alternatives soon. Some of the alternatives to fossil already in use are solar energy, wind power, hydro power and nuclear power.
Fossil fuels are largely made of carbon, the burning of this carbon brings about air pollution. Carbondioxide and carbon monoxide gasses respectively are the products of fossil combustion and each has a different impact on the environment. Increasing levels of carbon dioxide are responsible for global warming and carbon monoxide is harmful to human health. Also accompanied to this are acid rains, together form environmentalists major concerns.
In the US, About two-thirds of all SO2 and one-fourth of all NOx comes from electric power generation that relies on burning fossil fuels like coal.
Acid rain is a broad term used to describe several ways that acids fall out of the atmosphere. A more precise term is acid deposition, which has two parts: wet and dry.
Wet deposition refers to acidic rain, fog, and snow. As this acidic water flows over and through the ground, it affects a variety of plants and animals. The strength of the effects depend on many factors, including how acidic the water is, the chemistry and buffering capacity of the soils involved, and the types of fish, trees, and other living things that rely on the water.
Dry deposition refers to acidic gases and particles. About half of the acidity in the atmosphere falls back to earth through dry deposition. The wind blows these acidic particles and gases onto buildings, cars, homes, and trees.
Acid rain has been a major problem from the day of the intorduction of the contact process. That allowed sulphuric acid to be produced in mass quantities in industries and particularlt from the industrial revolution to this date. The industrial revolution has brought about an increased use of fossil fuels. When fossil fuels are burnt Oxides of nitrogen and Sulhur dioside are realised into the atmosphere. These react with water vapor and oxidants in the atmosphere and are chemically transformed into sulfuric and nitric acids, sunlight acts as a catalyst in thse reactions. Thses gasses decrease the water pH to levels below 7 making it more acidic.
Acid rain has been observed to attack limestone and marble works and is harmful to human health. Acid rains have been linked to premature death from heart and lung disorders, such as asthma and bronchitis. Aid rains are not confined to a particular area, in that the country that produces the sulphur or nitrogen oxides are not necessarily the immediate sufferer. It could affect the neighbouring ountries, clouds of acid rain formed in Britain for exampl affect Norway.
Many countries are concerned with the potential harm of acid rain on human health and his environment and measures have been taken in some of these countries. U.S.A for example started the Acid rain program. Acid rain are not a major problem in less industrialised areas as in industrialised areas.
The gradual increase of the temperature of the earth's lower atmosphere as a result of the increase in greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution. It is generally accepted that this increase in the quantity of greenhouse gases is trapping more heat and increasing global temperatures, making a process that has been beneficial to life potentially disruptive and harmful.
The temperature of the atmosphere near the earth's surface is warmed through a natural process called the greenhouse effect. Visible, shortwave light comes from the sun to the earth, passing unimpeded through a blanket of thermal, or greenhouse gases composed largely of water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone. Infrared radiation reflects off the planet's surface toward space but does not easily pass through the thermal blanket. Some of it is trapped and reflected downward, keeping the planet at an average temperature suitable to life.
Growth in industry, agriculture, and transportation since the Industrial Revolution has produced additional quantities of the natural greenhouse gases plus chlorofluorocarbons and other gases, augmenting the thermal blanket. During the past century, the atmospheric temperature has risen 1.1°F (0.6°C), and sea level has risen several inches. Some projected, longer-term results of global warming include melting of polar ice, with a resulting rise in sea level and coastal flooding; disruption of drinking water supplies dependent on snow melts; profound changes in agriculture due to climate change; extinction of species as ecological niches disappear; more frequent tropical storms; and an increased incidence of tropical diseases.
Global warming is feared to result to the elting of polar ice and as a subsequent cause an increase in water levels around the world. Since global warming is linked to deforestration and fossil fuel burning governments world wide have put a regulation on the amount of trees that can be cut. Unfortunately not much can be done on fossil fuel burning until an efficient alternative is found.
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