www.whyville.net Dec 19, 2004 Weekly Issue

Guest Writer

O, What a Beautiful Sunset

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Were you ever outside when the sun was setting? Did you see the pink, red, purple and blue colors that made the sky so beautiful? Ever wonder why they were there? Well, I'll tell you, and let me warn you, it's a pretty bad story.

Those colors, you see, are the sun shining through POLLUTION! (Editor's Note: See below for the counter-argument to this.)

You're probably thinking, "Now how could horrible, icky pollution make the sky pretty?" but sadly, it is true.

The pollution is caused by planes, trains, automobiles, homes, and factories burning FOSSIL FUELS. Fossil fuels are things such as coal and oil that formed from plant and animal materials over thousands of years of extreme pressure under the earth's surface. Fossil fuels are used to power many things we use like cars, planes, stoves, and trains.

Fossil fuels are non-renewable, which means that once we use it all, it's gone. These non-renewable resources cause pollution to go into the air. Once it's in the air, it can mix with moisture to form an acid that gets rained out. This acidic rain is known as ACID RAIN.

When acid rain falls, it soaks in the ground, hurting the ground, falls into lakes, rivers, and other water sources making them acidic and that kills many fish. Fish can normally only survive in water that has a pH of 7. Once the fish are dead, many animals lose their food source.

Meanwhile, the pollution that remains in the air can harm our lungs and body. It can also get carried hundreds of miles away and cause problems in other places.

Another problem pollution and the burning of fossil fuels creates is GLOBAL WARMING. Global warming is the heating up of the earth. The pollution from the fossil fuels may eat a hole in the atmosphere, but it also creates CARBON DIOXIDE. Carbon dioxide prevents heat from escaping through the atmosphere, which heats up the earth, which melts the polar ice caps. The melting of the polar ice caps causes flooding on ocean shores and is causing many animals to die out.

The diagrams below show what heat enters the atmosphere and what escapes. As you may see, very little of the heat that enters the atmosphere leaves. A simplified diagram illustrating the greenhouse effect...???

Images used without persmission (see sources below)

I hope this article has been very informative.

If you want to help the Earth, simply walk, don't use a car... use the least amount of fossil fuels as possible... and don't litter. And encourage your friends and family to do the same.

Have to go to school to learn more!


My teachers throughout the years
http://www.windows.ucar.edu/tour/link=/earth/interior/greenhouse_effect.html (for pic)
http://www.environment.govt.nz/ (for other pic)

Editor's Note: Thank you for what appears to have been a well-investigated report, anyonka... unfortunately, it looks like you were mislead by your teachers throughout the years (perhaps they didn't know it!) and you didn't investigate this quite fully enough! It's certainly a common belief, but according to the U.S. government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, pollution does not contribute to beautiful sunsets and sunrises. In fact, it's the opposite -- they make 'em muddier and less striking! Which makes sense, to those of us who live in Los Angeles or another major metropolis. On the other hand, the very old saying, "Red sky at night, traveler's delight; Red sky in morning, traveler take warning" does have some basis in fact. Read more about sunsets at the NOAA's homepage here: http://www.noaa.gov/questions/question_071202.html.


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