Acid Rain - A Global Problem
china japan emissions mar
Because of the transport properties of acid rain, it is not a localized problem. Emissions can originate hundreds of miles from where acid deposition occurs. Canadian authorities estimate that more than 30 percent of the acid rain that falls in Canada is due to U.S. emission sources.
In Europe pollutants are carried from the smokestacks of the United Kingdom over Sweden. In southwestern Germany many trees of the famed Black Forest are dying from the effects of acid rain transported to the region by wind. Germans have coined a word for the phenomenon, waldsterben (forest death).
Acid rain is a growing problem in Asia. According to the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, SO2 emissions in Asia are surpassing those in Europe and North America. In China acid rain is implicated in large die-offs in southwestern forests. A study by China's National Environment Protection Agency found that farmland is also affected by acid rain, so crops are at risk as well. According to Todd Johnson et al., in Clear Water, Blue Skies: China's Environment in the New Century, (Washington, DC: World Bank, 1997), the World Bank estimated annual forest and crop losses at $5 billion. Researchers believe it will be difficult to control pollution from China, the world's biggest consumer of coal, as that nation goes through an accelerated economic expansion that involves increased coal consumption.
Scientists estimate that about one-third of Japan's sulfur deposition comes from China. Atmospheric acidity levels are highest in the winter and early spring. During this time, huge air masses from continental Asia move to Japan, propelled by the prevailing monsoons. As in other countries,
|Great deal %||Fair amount %||Only a little %||Not at all %||No opinion %|
|2004 Mar 8–11||20||26||27||26||1|
|2003 Mar 3–5||24||26||27||21||2|
|2002 Mar 4–7||25||23||31||19||2|
|2001 Mar 5–7||28||28||26||16||2|
|2000 Apr 3–9||34||31||19||15||1|
|1999 Apr 13–14||29||35||23||11||2|
|1991 Apr 11–14||34||30||20||14||3|
|1990 Apr 5–8||34||30||18||14||4|
|1989 May 4–7||41||27||19||11||3|
|SOURCE: "Please tell me if you personally worry about this problem a great deal, a fair amount, only a little, or not at all. Acid rain?," in Poll Topics and Trends: Environment, The Gallup Organization, Princeton, NJ, March 17, 2004 [Online] www.gallup.com [accessed March 30, 2004]|
forests in Japan have experienced abnormally high death rates, particularly in stands of red pine and Japanese cedar. Japanese laws governing the emission of gases that acidify rain are among the strictest in the world. Nonetheless, Japan's rain is increasingly acidic. In Kawasaki, where NO5 levels are posted every day outside City Hall, the rain is sometimes as acidic as grapefruit juice.
In 2001 atmospheric scientists at Princeton University said that acid rain in Asia could triple over the next 30 years due to large expected increases in industrial emissions of NO5. Already, nearly 25 percent of China's NO5 emissions return to Earth in acid rain. Chinese emissions are blamed for more than 27 percent of NO5 acid rain in Japan and more than half in North Korea.