Whatever happened to …

… acid rain?

Thanks to an anonymous contribution to the Padlet for this idea.

I had to have a quick smile when I read this.  Acid rain a concern in the 90s?

As a high school student of the 70s, it was of high concern then as well.  I can recall the concern for lakes in Northern parts of Ontario (and Canada).  We heard of the term “dead lakes” and “dead rivers” caused by acid rain.  It was a time to point blame at anything that put byproducts into the atmosphere.  I can recall concerns about Lake Huron (a short distance from home) and the paint job on your car being affected.

In school, it was lessons that put pH into perspective for me.  Before that, I worked at the local public swimming pool and testing the water was a regular task that we did and recorded at least three times a day.  Even more when there was a great deal of sunlight and warm temperature.  We measured for both chlorine content and the pH of the water.  It wasn’t only until later when I took the Royal Life Saving Society’s Award of Merit and Distinction courses, that I really understood the total implications of pH in pool water.  In the early days, we just attributed it to the little kids who were swimmers.  (if you know what I mean)

You could see the effect of pH when people would leave the water.  From our perspective, we tried to keep the pH somewhere between 7.2 and 7.6.  It was a practical way to understand the difference between acidity and alkalinity.  

Thankfully, we learned so much about acid rain in secondary school science and, in particular, chemistry.  It was amazing what we could do with experiments and just a drop of this or a drop of that.  We had living things to experiment with (plants) and studied the varying affects of pH on them.

While we learned a bit about the concepts, society bit the bigger bullet.  I think back at those days and remember:

  • we filled our cars with leaded gasoline that was largely free of taxes – $2 would fill up my pickup truck
  • I know it was an older truck – 1959 Chevrolet – but fuel mileage was never a concern
  • outside of town, we had the garbage dump which burned the garbage after garbage collection
  • I can remember a comedian talking about catalytic whatchamacallits 
  • recycling wasn’t even a thing
  • generating electricity was important with the building of businesses and coal burning facilities was part of the solution
  • acid rain provoked further discussion about pollutants everywhere – how can we save the earth from ourselves?
  • schools modified their curriculum to include all kinds of topics dealing with the environment
  • we really became concerned about the quality of the air that we were breathing – respiratory issues became big news
  • as the anonymous poster notes, we now concern ourselves with global warning
  • David Suzuki and others became a voice of authority on various environmental topics
  • we identified and honour a Greenbelt around the GTA
  • carpooling has become a popular activity
  • we seek alternative and renewable forms of energy like solar and wind power
  • and the list goes on and on

So, to answer the original question; I hope that our concerns are still there but have morphed into the bigger environmental picture.  It most certainly can’t be summarized in a single blog post.  The topic has become big the in the news with the promise of the newly elected US president to deregulate things.  Will the environment suffer?

How about you and your thoughts about acid rain?

  • as the originator of the idea noted, is it now just history as we focus on Global Warning?
  • when did you first become aware of the concern?
  • does your school have an environmental program like Eco-Schools?
  • do you carpool?

As always, I’d be interested in your thoughts.

Please comment below.

As with this anonymous post, if there’s a topic that you’d like to jog my memory about, please consider adding to the Padlet.

Additional Reading Resources:


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