The Legacy of Acid Rain

The Legacy of Acid Rain

Ambience: Stream
Since 1970, thanks to the Clean Air Act, we’ve been able to reduce the emissionsof noxious gases and particles and that’s had a positive effect on the environment, among other things helping us to reduce the impact of acid rain. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Gene Likens is founding director of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. He and his colleagues are credited with the discovery of acid rain in the nineteen sixties, at Hubbard Brook in New Hampshire.

Likens: The amount of acidity in rainfall has declined very dramatically at Hubbard Brook, where I have worked for 54 years, the acid in the rain is now about 80% less than it was when I started there in that first sample in 1963. So, it’s much less, that’s a success story. But that long period of time when the acidic rain and snow were falling on the system and leaching out the buffering capacity from the soils, the soils are now much more sensitive.
The point that is really important to make is that if we start, in the United States, to increase our emissions of sulfur and nitrogen dioxide by taking away the regulations that have been in place, then we run the really huge risk of a catastrophic effect of increasing acid rain falling on a system that is no longer able to deal with it.
We’ve reduced the buffering capacity of the system dramatically, and if we increase the acidity of the incoming pollutants through the rain and snow, then we are set up for a really bad situation.

I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. This month check out our new podcast at astoundinguniverse.com

The Legacy of Acid Rain

What will happen when acid rain falls on a system that is no longer able to deal with it?
Air Date:01/29/2018
Scientist:
Transcript:

The Legacy of Acid Rain

Ambience: Stream
Since 1970, thanks to the Clean Air Act, we've been able to reduce the emissionsof noxious gases and particles and that's had a positive effect on the environment, among other things helping us to reduce the impact of acid rain. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Gene Likens is founding director of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. He and his colleagues are credited with the discovery of acid rain in the nineteen sixties, at Hubbard Brook in New Hampshire.

Likens: The amount of acidity in rainfall has declined very dramatically at Hubbard Brook, where I have worked for 54 years, the acid in the rain is now about 80% less than it was when I started there in that first sample in 1963. So, it's much less, that's a success story. But that long period of time when the acidic rain and snow were falling on the system and leaching out the buffering capacity from the soils, the soils are now much more sensitive.
The point that is really important to make is that if we start, in the United States, to increase our emissions of sulfur and nitrogen dioxide by taking away the regulations that have been in place, then we run the really huge risk of a catastrophic effect of increasing acid rain falling on a system that is no longer able to deal with it.
We've reduced the buffering capacity of the system dramatically, and if we increase the acidity of the incoming pollutants through the rain and snow, then we are set up for a really bad situation.

I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. This month check out our new podcast at astoundinguniverse.com