#1 Climate Change
- The increase in greenhouse gasses (mainly CO2, CH4, and NOs) due to the burning of fossil fuels is causing a general increase in the average global surface temperature
- More greenhouse gasses are causing more of the sun’s and earth’s radiation to be trapped in our atmosphere
- Some areas are expected to experience an increase of up to 7.5°C, while others will hardly experience a change at all
- Most global climate zones are expected to have a 4°C increase
- Projected Effects
- Local Ontario Effects
- Warmer winters
- Hot and humid summers with severe dry patches
- Increase in forest fires
- More overall precipitation
- Increase in severe weather events
- Increase in standing water (smell and disease)
- Loss of current species, invasion of new species from the South
- Increase in disease (West Nile, Lymes)
- Increase growing season
- The shift of agricultural lands further North
# 2 Acid Precipitation
- Acid Precipitation describes any precipitation (rain, snow, fog) that has become acidic from reacting from compounds in the atmosphere
- Acid precipitation is any precipitation that has a pH lower than 5.6
- The two main compounds that react with water to form acid precipitation are sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrous oxides (NOs)
- The main source of SO2 are coal burning and metal refining
- The main source of NO are vehicle exhaust
- Water ecosystems can only survive minor changes in pH.
- The first aquatic organisms to suffer are young newly hatched fish
- This decreases the food available for organisms higher on the food chain
- Acid precipitation can cause leaching of metals from soil into aquatic organisms where it can clog the gills of fish and suffocate
- If minerals are lost from the soil, the soil can no longer support plant life
# 3 Oil Spills
- Oil spills occur when a liquid hydrocarbon petroleum product is released into the environment
- Most oil spills occur in marine ecosystems (lakes, oceans)
- Oil can refer to many products including crude oil, gasoline, diesel fuel, or transportation fuel waste (ships, planes, vehicles)
- The oil penetrates underneath the feathers of birds reducing their ability to insulate their bodies and fly
- Birds will preen ingesting the oil which causes kidney failure and liver damage
- The same happens with mammals that become coated.
- Because oil floats on the surface of the water it blocks incoming sunlight which reduces photosynthesis.
- Most organisms affected by an oil spill will die without human intervention
- It is not possible to clean up 100% of a spill
- These methods are designed to minimize the effects of an oil spill
- Bioremediation: use of microorganisms or biological agents to break down or remove oil
- Bioremediation Accelerator: The bioremediation accelerators act as herding agents in water and on the surface, floating molecules to the surface of the water. This makes clean up easier.
- If Bioremediation is used in combination with an accelerator a bloom of natural pre-existing, hydrocarbon-consuming bacteria is created. These bacteria can eat up to 98% of a spill within 28 days. Success is dependent on the type of oil spilled.
- Controlled burning, can only be done in low wind and causes air pollution.
- Dispersants act as detergents; allow oil globules to be carried away in the water. The problem with this method is that smaller oil droplets may lethally contaminate coral. Recent research indicates that some dispersants are toxic to corals.
- Watch and wait: in some cases, natural degrading of oil may be most appropriate. Most clean-up methods are invasive and can be particularly damaging to ecologically sensitive areas.
- Dredging: for oils dispersed with detergents and other oils denser than water.
- Skimming: Requires calm waters