Whatever happened to acid rain? No seriously, what happened there? I can’t be the only person who, as a child, was bombarded with tales of doom concerning this deadly sounding substance falling from the sky and melting Lincoln Cathedral (which I didn’t live anywhere near and have never visited, but for some reason it, and it’s imp, are stuck in my head as being part of the acid rain story). Just hearing about it for the first time was enough to stop an entire class full of children from running around trying to collect as much rain water as they could in their mouths – it was the northwest of England, they made us play outside in anything barring the heaviest downpours.
Now this was the time of the Rio summit, a time when global warming and the like was trendy, was cool, wasn’t being caused by widescreen plasma TVs on standby, office computers left on overnight, or China. Nope, back then it was caused by cathode ray TVs left on standby, CFC filled fridges, or America. To be fair the latter is still largely to blame now. We’re talking early 1990s, and acid rain was going to melt our heritage and our faces.
Which is why I cannot work out where it’s gone.
Now this isn’t a climate change denial train of thought. I’ve seen the difference the last 15 years has made, and the weather ain’t what it used to be. Obviously for the deathly pale like me this has meant increased suntan lotion costs (and duck me (quack), have you seen how expensive it is?!) but it’s definitely noticeable. You can get as many as three whole days of sunshine in the northwest of England, which leads me to suspect the next generation might not be so blase about getting rained on solidly for 50 minutes whilst their teachers sit indoors, laughing.
But nowadays, as I, ahem, I mean, we obsessively turn everything off after use, there’s no fear of anything being melted. Stonehenge, Big Ben, Lincoln Cathderal, they are all safe and secure (hopefully, unless the Cutty Sark was merely the first of many historical objects to be targetted by a mad anti-history arsonist). This leads to the following possibilities:
1) We beat acid rain. It’s safe to play ‘collect as much water as you can in your mouth at break time’ again. But this does not address how we did this. I’d like to know, if only so I can feel good about the human ability to, sometimes, not break everything they are given to play with.
2) We didn’t beat acid rain, it’s still there but we’ve lost interest because we all care more about Jose Mourinho’s dog. Or worse, we beat it here but it’s still in foreign places which means the British media won’t care until it melts a British consulate or something. This would be depressing.
3) It never existed in the first place. It’s not completely unlikely.
I’m not a scientist. Maybe a scientist can tell me. Maybe they don’t know either. Maybe I’ll never go to Lincoln. Oh well…
9 comments by 1 or more people[Skip to the latest comment]
Effective legislation to restrict Sulphur (especially) and NOx emissions is reducing the problem. Catalytic converters in cars help. SO2 emissions in Europe and the US are down pretty sharply since the ‘80s (http://www.grida.no/geo2000/english/0048.htm). Essentially, although China is still polluting itself, Acid Rain is essentially a mesoscale problem – its effect is continental rather than global.
22 May 2007, 06:26
Still teaching it all at GCSE. But Acid Rain has kinda become less important than all the other crap that we’re doing to environment.
*Is devastated about teh Cutty Sark
22 May 2007, 06:41
I think some was generated as a result of coal fired power stations and the sulphurous content of coal. However, in recent years some of these have been replaced by gas turbine generators. The fact that these can be run by three men and a dog as opposed to the hundreds required to run a coal fired station probably did not not cross the generators’ minds when it came to having an opportunity to clean up the atmosphere!
Wasn’t the original story all about us being such nasty neighbours to the Norwegians? Because our acid rain was falling on their forests rather than ours? Given the inability of the media to keep its attention on any story that runs beyond 10 days, I’m not surprised that it faded quickly from the news!
22 May 2007, 09:46
Woo! So we beat it! Ha! In your face, acid rain!
Ah, yes, I forgot the Norwegian angle. Now I think about it that might have been the second part of the news broadcasts – “Lincoln Cathedral and some forests in another country which isn’t Britain could melt with acid rain!” – not Brit-centric enough for us to worry about. Except then the Beatles would have looked silly harping on about Norwegian wood when there wasn’t any…
22 May 2007, 10:38
Some peeps r sayiing it can stop globalm warming GO ACID RAIN!
28 May 2007, 19:51
Well that’s high grade tripe, if ever I heard tripe!
30 May 2007, 14:11
I know nothing about acid rain but several thoughts spring to mind. Firstly, I like very few Beatles records but Norwegian Wood is my favourite. When my two sons were very young we were playing cards with my parents and my Mum handed round some acid drops, my husband said “Great, let’s have an acid party!” You should have seen my Dads face, if looks could kill. This was funny at the time.
Something I overheard:- “The internet is just a bunch of nerds typing at each other. Not strictly true: one expects nerds to be intelligent. Apparently, most people on the net are not nerds.”
30 May 2007, 23:42
well wot can i say, (nuffin left is dere)
02 Jun 2007, 13:49
in a fit of procrastination I just stumbled across your blog and I just have to say that your concern for Lincoln Cathedral has touched my heart.
Bits of it are still falling off (i believe a few years ago they had to do some repairs to stop the whole thing from falling down). You can even buy lumps of cathedral stone work in the gift shop. However good old BBC Look North and the Lincolnshire Echo have been pretty quiet on the acid rain front recently and that can only be a good thing.
Myself and the Imp thank you.
26 Jun 2007, 14:59
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