In an exclusive interview with Mother Channel, NASA’s Dr Ali Omar (Research scientist at Chemistry and Dynamics Div. of Langley Research Centre) talks about his presentations on Air Quality and the impact of Air Quality on global Health, in terms of Acid Rain and Ocean and Soil Acidification, at at COP 22, Marrakech.
In response to your question on gas emissions into the atmosphere, we know for sure that a lot of these gases, like NO2, SO2, etc. get processed in the clouds in the aqueous environment, which in most cases converts into acids, e.g. sulphur dioxide (SO2) into sulphuric acid and Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) into nitric acid, which are then deposited (wet deposition) on the surface which becomes an ‘acid rain’ problem or acidification of the oceans or soils. Acid rain is precipitation containing harmful amounts of nitric and sulfuric acids. These acids are formed primarily by nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides released into the atmosphere when fossil fuels are burned. These acids fall to the Earth either as wet precipitation (rain, snow, or fog) or dry precipitation (gas and particulates). Some are carried by the wind, sometimes hundreds of miles. In the environment, acid rain damages trees and causes soils and water bodies to acidify, making the water unsuitable for some fish and other wildlife.
For the Oceans, any effect, especially ocean acidification affects the coral reefs and all habitats in and around them due to dissolution of the carbonate that helps in the formation of these corals on the reefs around the world. When coral reefs become stressed from increased ocean temperatures, they expel microorganisms that live within their tissues and are essential to their health, this is known as coral bleaching. As ocean temperatures warm and the acidity of the ocean increases, bleaching and coral die-offs are likely to become more frequent. Chronically stressed coral reefs are less likely to recover.
In terms of getting carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, there is a process known as ‘Carbon Capture’, of which there are many technologies and process that are currently implemented in several environments globally. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is not only applicable to fossil fuel power plant, but can also be applied to any large industrial sources of carbon dioxide, such as cement, steel and chemical industries. In some sectors, CCS represents the sole option for reducing carbon dioxide emissions at the scale necessary.
The overwhelming majority of the world’s climate scientists – and governments – agree that climate change is occurring and that the main cause is human use of fossil fuels. Storing carbon dioxide (CO2) is much safer than the current option of emitting it into the atmosphere.
http://www.mma.gob.cl/retc_ingles/1316/w3-article-51518.html (Damage caused by Sulphur Dioxide SO2 to Humans and Environment)
http://www.ccsassociation.org/what-is-ccs/ (Carbon Capture and Storage~CCS)
http://www.conserve-energy-future.com/causes-and-effects-of-acid-rain.php (Causes and Effects of Acid Rain)