Human Impact on the Atmosphere
1. Discuss how human activities can affect the atmosphere.
2. Compare and contrast acid rain, smog, and global warming.
air pollution temperature inversion
As an industrialized nation we are constantly forced to weigh the effects of manufacturing versus the benefits of the products. Pollution is a term given to a harmful (gas or particulate) substance that is released into the environment. Although some pollution occurs naturally (volcanoes) most pollutants are produced as a result of industry.
There are several different classifications:
Proliferation of of pollutants depletes our ozone layer, contributes to increased global warming, increases the amount of acid rain, and puts people at risk for health problems. In 1970 the Clean Air Act sought to address 6 of the worst known pollutants. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) monitors these pollutants and sets acceptable levels for their release.
Acid rain is created as CO2, NO2 and SO2 mix with water in the atmosphere to create weak acids that return to the Earth's surface as rain. This rain accumulates in the water table and in the fresh water systems where it becomes concentrated killing wildlife, vegetation, and bacteria.
Smog is a term used to describe a collection of pollution that is condensed in a particular area.
Ozone depletion is perhaps the most overlooked environmental hazard. Although the banning of CFCs in the 1970s helped slow the thinning of this layer, the depletion continues today. Effects of thinning are:
Although global warming is vital to the survival of the planet, its rate of increase threatens life. Most scientists will conclude that global warming is a natural process that has cycles of increase and decrease but there are undeniable contributions that we are making that have significantly sped up the process of warming.
These activities have led to the the following consequences:
Last modified: December 09, 2003