Buildings are being destroyed, animals are dying, and trees are not able to grow. All because of rain? Wait, I thought we needed this stuff.
Well, it’s not just any kind of rain. This is acid rain. Would buildings really disintegrate?
How would the acid affect our food supply? And can it burn your skin?
If a superacid like carborane, that can disintegrate things instantly, came raining down from the sky, it would destroy everything in its path: entire buildings, cars and even you. But luckily we won’t be dealing with that.
Instead, we’ll have something known as acid rain falling from the sky. Although its effects won’t work like carborane, the end result of acid rain will be much, much worse for everything it touches.
Unlike normal rain, that is slightly acidic, acid rain contains high levels of nitric and sulfuric acids. This makes its acidity level a pH of around 4, which is similar to tomato juice.
Acid rain doesn’t occur naturally. It comes from humans polluting. Chemicals and pollutants that are caused from buring fossil fuels enter our atmosphere. There, they mix with water and oxygen to become acidic rain.
Luckily, a little bit of acid rain doesn’t cause much damage. We’ve already had instances like this before. But what would happen if rain was always too acidic?
Although this situation isn’t ideal, you can at least be happy with the fact that acid rain won’t affect you directly. Meaning, if acid rain touches your skin, it won’t burn you. But there are still many ways you can be indirectly affected by the rain.
The main thing that will suffer is the environment. Acid rain can severely weaken and eventually kill trees. It penetrates the ground, draining valuable nutrients from the soil. Some trees will have the waxy coating on their leaves stripped away, making the trees unable to create energy through photosynthesis.
What else will be hurt besides the environment? Buildings, roads and other materials will slowly degrade due to the rain. With acid rain, these things will erode much faster than they do now. Entire cities will crumble over time due to the acid rain.
After acid rain hits the ground, it will eventually end up in our lakes, rivers, and oceans. All this acidity in the water will gravely harm the fish that live in it.
Some fish will be able to survive better than others, but some, such as shrimp and mussels, won’t last long. And if any fish are born when the water is too acidic, they’ll have a good chance of being born with deformities.
And if just one species of fish dies, it can destroy an entire ecosystem, due to that fish missing from the food chain. Over time, all fish will die due to their environment completely changing; they won’t be able to adapt quickly enough. Water sources all around the world will become completely devoid of life.
This will seriously affect our food supply. Fish are a major part of over a billion people’s diets. You’ll have to say goodbye to sushi, and fish & chips.
And how will acid rain affect you? Did you seriously think you were going to get out of a WHAT IF scenario completely unscathed?
All the increased sulfur dioxide that will be in the air will cause you some severe lung problems, like asthma and bronchitis. WIth trees slowly withering away, our infrastructure being destroyed, and huge parts of our food supply disappearing, the Earth will become uninhabitable.
One way we could stop this would be to geo-engineer the weather to act the way we’d like it to. Or y’know, maybe we could just stop polluting, and the issue would resolve itself. That’s how we got into this situation in the first place anyway.
- “Acid Rain”. 2019. nationalgeographic.com. Accessed October 17 2019.
- “What Is Acid Rain?”. 2019. projects.ncsu.edu. Accessed October 17 2019.
- “What Is Acid Rain? | US EPA”. 2016. US EPA. Accessed October 17 2019.
- “Negative Health Effects Of Acid Rain On Humans”. Robert Boumis 2019. Sciencing. Accessed October 17 2019.
- “What Is The World’s Strongest Superacid?”. Anne Marie Helmenstine, 2019. Thoughtco. Accessed October 17 2019.
- “Toxic Rain: The Effect Of Acid Rain On The Environment | Green Science | Learn Science At Scitable”. Samantha Jakuboski, 2019. nature.com. Accessed October 17 2019.