acid rain
June 18, 2003 1:16 PM   Subscribe

Remember acid rain? It’s still a huge problem. It's killing the fish in our rivers and lakes, and killing the trees in our forests, not to mention irrevocably damaging our historical landmarks. Numerous Clean Air Acts (1955, 1963, 1970, and 1990) have mandated some changes that were supposed to help, and in fact, some power plants have had some success in reducing emissions. Others have ignored the law until forced to comply. Want more information? Here's the EPA's most recent report on acid rain, from 1999.
posted by acridrabbit (7 comments total)
P.S. Bush's "Clear Skies" legislation would almost certainly make the problem worse - but that's no surprise, give Bush's environmental record.
posted by acridrabbit at 1:20 PM on June 18, 2003

Remember R.E.M.'s "Fall on Me"? It's still a great song!

"Feathers hit the ground before the weight can leave the air"
posted by 111 at 2:11 PM on June 18, 2003

Looking a more recent report from 2001 seems to indicate that both SO2 and NOX levels have been steadily dropping. Most notably after Phase II of Title IX of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments went into effect at the end of 1999. It's obviously going to be a slow process to get power producers to install billions of dollars of air cleaning equipment, but it looks like we are making progress.

I'm also glad to see that the government had many successes in getting compliance with these laws.
posted by betaray at 3:09 PM on June 18, 2003

Actually, the Clean Air Acts have increased levels of acid rain. This is because they mandated scrubbers to reduce particulate pollution, the stuff that causes smog. It turns out that particulate matter is slightly basic, and was tempering the acidic gaseous emissions. Without it, more acid rain!
posted by emyd at 3:11 PM on June 18, 2003

I'd be intrested in seeing some sources for that, emyd.
posted by betaray at 4:13 PM on June 18, 2003

I'm curious why no one has though of the idea of using a similar delivery system to not just neutralize the existing acidified moisture, but to reverse much of the damage to rivers and lakes.
In other words, adding powdered limestone to rivers and lakes is great until you realize how very many of them there are, and how many man hours it would take, doing it by hand. So why not take some inexpensive basic material, and project an immense cloud of it into the air, west of the acid rain area.

Remember the downwind area from the Mount St. Helens eruption? Create smokestacks that release large amounts of very finely particulated or gaseous (preferably) basic substance into the air upwind of the trouble areas.

Or perhaps it is inefficient boosting it up from the ground, so why not dump dozens of cargo aircraft loads full at high altitude, to both travel east and descend onto the acidic clouds and rivers and lakes?

Pennies on the dollars currently spent and not just slowing down the problem but reversing it. And measurably effective or not.
posted by kablam at 8:54 PM on June 18, 2003

It's obviously going to be a slow process to get power producers to install billions of dollars of air cleaning equipment

I imagine that, in the end, there'll be this one tree left somewhere, and everyone will know it's the last tree, but someone will come along, with the government's blessing, cut it down, and make millions off its wood.
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:09 AM on June 19, 2003

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