The Political Science of Acid Rain -- Why I don't have much Faith in Climate Scientists

Discussion in 'The Cesspool' started by Woody1, Jun 12, 2017.

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  1. Woody1 Registered Senior Member

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    Acid rain was a very contentious subject in the 1980s. According to this NY Times article (link) written in 1988, acid rain was destroying the Appalachian forests from Georgia to Maine. The Sierras in California were also affected. The article focused on Mt. Mitchell, and like most people I was boiling with resentment toward "whoever/whatever" was doing this to our forests:

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    I later visited Mt. Mitchell State Park and I asked a park ranger about acid rain's devastating destruction of the once magnificent balsam firs that I enjoyed seeing for many years. He said it wasn't acid rain at all, rather it was a pest introduced into america, and he was right, as I will show from the archives of real science, untainted by political norming.

    But first let's revisit the 1988 New York Times article, where some statements sound familiar to the current debate on global warming:

    "Dr. Bruck said he was ''90 percent certain'' that manmade air pollution traveling from the Ohio and Tennessee valleys, particularly low-level ozone and acidic moisture in clouds, was combining with such natural stresses as the high temperatures and drought of recent years to create an environment in which the trees cannot survive."

    "But while the ill effects of these pollutants have been documented, scientists say it is difficult to separate their influence from climate or other possible factors. The problem is complicated by the fact that scientists only began intensive studies of forests a decade ago."

    "Volker H. Mohnen, a professor of atmospheric science at the State University of New York at Albany, who has watched half the spruce trees atop Whiteface Mountain in upstate New York die in recent years, said that while it has not been conclusively proved that air pollution added to natural stress is killing the trees, ''I would advocate housekeeping before all the answers are in." "We should not wait,'' he said. ''We must address the problem holistically.''

    "Forest Service officials had been extremely skeptical until recently that air pollution might play a significant role in slowing the growth of trees and damaging forests. Dr. Radloff said that the evidence linking the declining health of forests and the high levels of pollution reaching those forests was still ''circumstantial.''

    Now returning to the park ranger's assessment, the Balsam Woolly Adelgid (link) is the real cause of the skeletal trees. This insect pest was introduced from Europe around 1900 and it devastated the Cascade Mountains in Washington State and Oregon during the 1950s and 60s. The pest weakens spruce and fir trees where they can't withstand drought, and that's what killed the trees, not acid rain. Oddly there was no mention of this well-known tree-killer from all the "experts" in the NY Times article. Notice how science changes when the politics are removed. Have a great day, and by the way, here's the real tree-killer:

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    Last edited: Jun 12, 2017
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  3. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

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    Are you saying you're an acid rain denier?
     
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  5. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    CO2 is plant food
    ("gas up the suv honey, we've got a forest to save")
     
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  7. Woody1 Registered Senior Member

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    No. Not really. I'm saying we need to get the politics out of science. Is that fair enough?
     
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  8. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

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    OK.

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  9. Woody1 Registered Senior Member

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    LOL. You could have done the same comedy video in the 1980s with all the scientists that backed acid rain theory, and the punch line is "climate change" this time around.

    The fact is that the climate is always changing. It always has, and it always will. Who denies that?



    These points caught my attention in the video:

    1) The climate is always changing, and the most cataclysmic changes occurred before humans showed up.
    2) Nobody knows if the next trend will be a warming or cooling event, with or without the human activity -- which tells me that cause and effect are not well understood.

    It's like acid rain déjà vu from the 1980s.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2017
  10. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

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    Wait, I did listen to that and the guy mentions calling someone "a climate change denier" is like calling someone "a Holocaust denier"?

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  11. Kittamaru Now nearly 40 pounds lighter. Staff Member

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    *shakes head* This is foolish thinking at its worst. You are claiming that the climate always changes, and nobody knows what the next trend will be, so we shouldn't bother trying to minimize our impact on it...

    It is a pretty simple set of options and outcomes:

    Option 1) - We work to minimize our impact on the environment, but it turns out we are wrong and mankind isn't affecting climate change. Outcome - we have spent a bunch of money and accomplished little to nothing.

    Option 2) We work to minimize our impact on the environment, and it turns out we are right and mankind IS affecting climate change. Outcome - we spend a bunch of money and keep Earth green, happy, and supporting our lives.

    Option 3) We do nothing and continue as we are, but it turns out science was right and mankind IS accelerating climate change. Outcome - once fertile land becomes dust bowls incapable of growing crops, large swathes of coastline are underwater, millions die, and generally it becomes a cataclysm.

    Option 4) We do nothing and continue as we are, and science is wrong and mankind isn't affecting climate change - its just happening. Outcome - basically, see option 3, but on a potentially slower pace.

    Out of these... Option 1 and 2 seem much more desirable than option 3 and 4... so to me, it seems spending the money now and risking it being "for naught" (a 25% chance roughly) is a much better option than rolling the dice on a 50/50 shot of things just working out for the better.

    Of course, then you take into account the fact that the OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of scientists around the world are in agreement that we need to act ASAP... and there is really no reason NOT to act (unless you buy into the thought that there is a worldwide conspiracy spanning generations)
     
  12. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    And they were right.
    No one.

    You age; no one denies that. You will someday die; no one denies that. Still, I think you would be upset if someone accelerated that process - say by dropping an anvil on your head tomorrow.

    "But everyone dies! Who denies that?"

    And more cataclysmic changes will happen after we are gone. The question is - do we want to cause this particular cataclysm?
    Yes, we do. It will get warmer - because of us.
    Or like the CFC issue from the 1980's. Or like vaccines. Or space travel. Or heredity. Do you deny all those things as well?
     
  13. Woody1 Registered Senior Member

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    Do I need to re-quote the OP, where MOST OF THE SAME POINTS were made by SCIENTISTS 30 years ago regarding the destruction of our alpine forests?

    Now tell us Kittamura, why can't these scientists predict the future of our climate?
     
  14. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

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    I think you edited you post to add that while I was typing.

    So, now you deny acid rain?
     
  15. Woody1 Registered Senior Member

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    Yes, when name-calling enters the discussion, then we're no longer talking about science. Fair enough?
     
  16. Woody1 Registered Senior Member

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    I thought I answered that question. A park ranger denied that acid rain killed the balsam firs at Mt. Mitchell. I agree with him, now after 30 years of deliberation.

    I can only speak to the facts. An insect (link) was the root caused combined with drought stress after the insect weakened the trees.

    From the link:

    "Balsam woolly adelgids have destroyed about 95% of the Fraser firs in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, creating "ghost forests". One concern is that acid rain and the deterioration of the ozone, among other pollutants are contributing to a weak immune system for the Fraser firs and making them more susceptible to the balsam woolly adelgids. "

    Acid rain is a "concern", but that doesn't change the fact that an insect is the real culprit.



    Do you have scientific proof of another cause?
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2017
  17. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

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    Now I can't to call you names - boiling frog.

    The boiling frog is a parable describing a frog being slowly boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The story is often used as a metaphor for the inability or unwillingness of people to react to or be aware of threats that arise gradually.

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  18. Kittamaru Now nearly 40 pounds lighter. Staff Member

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    Congratulations, it is an insect that kills one type of tree (fir trees). That doesn't mitigate or change the other effects of Acidic Rain... or the impact it has on spruce trees:
    http://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/acid-rain/

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    Then there is its effect on buildings:
    Oh, and it erodes Nickel and Zinc... which are both used to make steel resistant to oxidization. Awesome, lets strip away the coating that stops much of our bridge cables and the like from rusting away!

    Sorry, but I'm not impressed. Acid Rain is still an issue
     
  19. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

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    I could say you are correct about Mt. Micthell and then ask what about the rest of like Earth?
     
  20. Kittamaru Now nearly 40 pounds lighter. Staff Member

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    Not to mention that I'm certain the credentials of a park ranger override those of dedicated and experienced climatologists...
     
  21. Woody1 Registered Senior Member

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    The Balsam woolly adeligid (link) has infected american forests from Canada, to the Cascade Mountains to the Appalachians. Spruce trees are not infected directly, but they are part of the failing ecosystem that is more susceptible to drought, fire, disease, and wind damage.

    "Since the invasion of the balsam woolly adelgid, discovered in 1957, Fraser fir mortality rates have been 90-99%."

    How can an ecosystem survive that kind of damage? In the 1980s this was blamed on acid rain:

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    Neither am I impressed by opinion polls about science.
     
  22. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    I have a friend who was once diagnosed with cancer, but after investigation it was found he didn't have it after all.

    Therefore cancer does not exist.
     
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  23. Kittamaru Now nearly 40 pounds lighter. Staff Member

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    So you will take the word of a park ranger over the voices of a multitude of scientists?

    Guess what - acid rain may not have been the cause of those trees dying, but it is still having an impact on forests worldwide. The science is irrefutable:

    http://www2.gsu.edu/~mstnrhx/EnviroBio Projects/AcidRain/effects.html
    https://www.epa.gov/acidrain/effects-acid-rain

    http://chemistry.elmhurst.edu/vchembook/196forests.html
    Simply put, acid rain is detrimental to trees. Who gives a flying fuck if it isn't killing them directly - it weakens them en mass, making them more susceptible to other issues. A healthy forest might well have been able to resist that Wooly Adgelid - as it was, it has decimated them.

    Your apparent claim is that, since Acid Rain isn't the only culprit, we should ignore it entirely. Let me be blunt - that is fucking stupid.
     
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