What are S02, NOx, and CO2? How do they contribute to pollution?
CO2: Carbon Dioxide is the principle "greenhouse gas" implicated in global warming. CO2 is released into the atmosphere as a result of burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. Coal is particularly dirty, producing about twice as much CO2 for the same amount of power as natural gas. CO2 is also generated in smaller amounts by forest clearing and cement production.
NOx: Nitrogen oxides cause smog, irritate the lungs and lower resistance to respiratory infections such as influenza. Smog is formed when nitrogen oxides, which are emitted by burning fossil fuels at electric power plants and in automobiles, mix with other chemicals in the air, sunlight, and heat. The two largest sources of smog-forming pollution are motor vehicles (30%) and power plants (26%).
The effects of short-term exposure to nitrogen oxides are still unclear, but continued or frequent exposure to concentrations higher than normal may cause increased incidence of acute respiratory disease in children. Nitrogen oxides are an important precursor to both ozone and acidic acid rain and can affect both land and water ecosystems.
SO2: Sulfur dioxide comes from the combustion of fuel containing sulfur, mostly coal and oil. It is also produced during metal smelting and other industrial processes. The major health concerns associated with exposure to high concentrations of SO2 include effects on breathing, respiratory illness, alterations in the lungs' defenses, and aggravation of existing cardiovascular disease. While everybody is adversely impacted by SO2 to some degree, people that are particularly at risk include asthmatics and individuals with cardiovascular disease or chronic lung disease, as well as children and the elderly.
What is Global warming and why are greenhouse gas emissions raising the earth's temperature?
Increases in concentrations of carbon dioxide and other pollutants contribute to global warming, which is predicted to raise average temperatures, alter precipitation patterns, and raise sea levels. These changes may negatively impact our quality of life, including increases in infectious diseases, respiratory illness, and weather-related deaths. Global warming may also decrease crop yields, water quality, and regional forest health and productivity. Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 have been increasing at a rate of about 0.5% per year and are now about 30% above pre-industrial levels.
How does SO2 create acid rain?
Scientists have confirmed that sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) are the primary causes of acid rain. Acid rain occurs when these gases react in the atmosphere with water, oxygen, and other chemicals to form various acidic compounds. Sunlight increases the rate of most of these reactions. The result is a mild solution of sulfuric acid and nitric acid.
How much CO2 is removed by planting trees in the Michoacan forest of Mexico?
Every tree planted in the monarch forest will remove an additional .29 tons of atmospheric CO2 over the next 42 years. This is calculated by dividing the net carbon increase of a 42 year-old mature forest (157 tons/hectare) by the average number of trees (2000) which equals .0785 tons C per seedling. Because it takes several tons of CO2 to make a ton of carbon, we converted C to CO2 by multiplying the carbon by 3.667: (3.667 x .0785 = .29 tons CO2).