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The environment is increasingly becoming a topic of political discourse not only in our country, but around the world. Climate change often gets the most attention, but acid rain is also a big concern. Why? Almost all of our energy in the United States comes from the combustion of fossil fuels (all but around 10% of it, actually!). Some of these fossil fuels contain impurities that escape into the air in gaseous form when combusted. Coal, for example, fuels about 50% of all the electricity in the United States.1A significant contaminant in coal is sulfur, which combines with oxygen in the combustion process to form gases like SO2. Atmospheric nitrogen also gets caught up in the combustion process, and it can react with oxygen to form gases like NO2. These gases can react further with oxygen themselves and with water vapor in the air to produce acids such as sulfuric acid (H2SO4) and nitric acid (HNO3)—see section 14.11 in your text for the equations. When these acids mix with the rain and fall to the earth, it is known as acid rain. It is worth noting, however, that all rain is a little acidic, since CO2is abundant in the atmosphere, which will react in a similar manner to produce carbonic acid. So, technically, acid rain is rain that falls below a pH of 5.6. And as you learn about the pH scale and how it works, you learn that even a very small change in pH can result in a large relative difference in concentration, which could eventually prove catastrophic for life on earth. It can also destroy anything made of metal or erode certain structures or materials made of carbonates.
In this discussion, you will be investigating the effects of acid rain in the Czech Republic and how it is being handled by the local, regional, and/or federal government. Be careful to collect reliable information from reputable sources—“fan” websites or Wikipedia, for example, are not acceptable references. Use APA references
NOTE:Try to use your current location if at all possible. If you happen to be in the same location as another student in the class who has already claimed your location, the above rule still applies—first come first served, so you will have to select another location.
1Saylor, April. (2012). Carbon Capture Innovation: Making an IMPACCT on Coal,U.S. Department of Energy. Available: http://energy.gov/articles/carbon-capture-innovation-making-impacct-coal-0.
Topics for Discussion
As you investigate, please be sure to collect the information below for discussion. Keep in mind this is NOT a copy/paste activity You will likely have to consult several sources to find all this information in sufficient detail.
- Identify your chosen area and include an image that shows an example of the effects of acid rain in Czech Republic . Explain the picture, what and where it is, what the damage is, if anything is being done about the damage, etc.
- Discuss the average pH of the rainfall and the nearest body of water in your chosen location. What is it now, and how has it changed over the past few decades? Is there a noticeable trend? Are things getting better or worse? How does it compare to other places on the globe, or even in your region—is it more or less acidic than those places? Explain why either way. Summarize all of this in a clear, well-written paragraph.
- Discuss any possible causes of acid rain in your chosen area. What is some of the specific chemistry that might be involved in the formation of acid rain in your particular chosen location? Summarize all of this in a clear, well-written paragraph.
- Discuss any measures, either legally or otherwise, being taken currently to decrease the effects of acid rain in your chosen area. Has there been any legislation passed? Is there anything else that can be done? Are there any small steps you as an individual could take, even if only small ones, to help contribute to the decrease of the formation of acid rain in your area? How specifically would these steps contribute? Summarize all of this in a clear, well-written paragraph.