Imperfect progress on acid rain
When fish started turning belly up in lakes and streams, North America's eyes were suddenly opened to the consequences of pollution. But long after acid rain became a household word and Canada decided to take action, the United States was still hesitant to curb its share of industrial pollutants. For years Prime Minister Brian Mulroney courted a reluctant American president while Canadian activists lobbied and spread the word. Results came eventually, but it may have been too little too late.
• By the 1990s, the area of eastern Canada that was receiving more than 20 kg/ha/yr of sulphate in rain and snow showed a 61 per cent decrease.
• Some acidified lakes showed signs of recovery, but many more did not. Of 202 lakes that were studied between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s, 33 per cent had reduced levels of acidity while 56 per cent showed no change and 11 per cent actually became more acidic.
• The Canada-Wide Acid Rain Strategy for Post-2000 revealed that acid rain would continue to damage sensitive ecosystems, even after the full implementation of Canadian and U.S. reduction strategies.
The strategy's key commitments are:
• To seek further SO2 emission reductions in the U.S.
• To establish new SO2 emission reduction targets in eastern Canada (Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia).
• To ensure adequate acid rain science and monitoring.
• To prevent pollution.
• To keep clean areas clean.
• To report annually on emissions and on progress.
Program: Canada at Five
Broadcast Date: Oct. 6, 1997
Guest(s): Martha Costas, Charlie Ferguson
Host: Barbara Smith
Reporter: Bill Gillespie
Photo: Forest damaged by acid rain © 3355m. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.
Last updated: February 9, 2012
Page consulted on December 6, 2013
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