Acid Rain and the role of International Treaties in combating pollution

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  • Acid Rain and the role of International Treaties in combating pollution
    • Acid Rain
      • water ways and land can be polluted by acid rain
      • sulfur dioxide is released when fossil fuels are burned
      • the sulfur  dioxide is released into the atmosphere, dissolving in the moisture in the atmosphere and falling as acid rain (sulfurous acid)
      • Effects of Acid Rain:
        • damages buildings
        • causes chemical weathering of rocks to happen much faster
        • acidification of soil and waterways, lowering the pH and therefore killing the plants and animals (poisoning fish)
      • the effects of acid rain can be reduced by ensuring factories which produce these harmful gases use filters which trap polluting gases
      • also greater use of renewable energy sources such as wind power would help
      • one of the main problems of acid rain is it often falls in other countries far from the original site of air pollution
        • however, due to prevailing winds, the acid rain clouds can be carried for many miles
        • acid rain has become an international issue, therefore international treaties have been established to combat this and other forms of pollution
    • role of International Treaties in combating pollution
      • the importance of international co-operation in combatting pollution was evident in the development of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997
        • this was a summit that produced widespread agreement on approaches to reduce the problems associated with climate change
        • a key agreement was that countries would reduce their pollution levels to the extent that the levels produced in 2010 would be no more than levels in the 1990 with much of the focus on carbon dioxide emissions
        • however maintaining wide-scale international agreements is not easy and in 2003 USA withdrew its commitment to agreed Kyoto targets
      • while there have been further attempts to agree international consensus on approaches to climate change it has been a slow and difficult process due to the conflict between economic development and conservation
      • European Nitrates Directive
        • ensures that farmers have adequate storage facilities for farmyard manure and slurry and that some types of fertiliser are not used during winter months
          • there is a closed season for the application of farmyard manure and artificial fertilisers - ensuring that the fertiliser is only added at times when plants are growing and can be used


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