Scandinavian Moan- Acid Rain

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The problem of acid rain has been around for a while and its baffling how countries and other influential organisations have not chalked great success in dealing with it. Acid rain is rain which contains traces of pollutants (sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide gases) created as fossil fuels like coal or oil burn. Acid rain is seen a cross border problem. Countries emit industrial toxic waste in to the atmosphere which is then carried across to other countries.  Although it affects many countries, Scandinavian countries are believed to be one of the worse hit victims. These Nordic countries have evidence that although they contribute to the problem, other countries like Britain contribute immensely to this trans-border problem with its widespread effects. In the south of Sweden, 70-80 percent of the acid rain comes from other countries. Britain alone deposits 40,000 tons of sulphur dioxide acid over Sweden each year which is the largest by a single country.

Acid rain has damaging effects on the environment and commons in these countries, particularly people who live around lakes, streams and forests that depend on these natural recourses as a means of livelihood. The ecosystem is adversely altered as the lakes and forests are badly damaged. Acid rain makes lakes and streams acidic. The acid kills fish eggs and makes fish sick and cases where the acidic content is too high, fishes cannot survive. The fact Norway and Sweden rely heavily on fish as a major food source, their economies are badly affected. Experts say 10,000 of the 18,000 lakes in Sweden are affected with 4,000 are seriously damage.

Acid rain has also has an adverse effect on the forest. Spruce and pine are being badly damaged in Swedish forests. It damages the leaves and barks of trees making the trees vulnerable to diseases. The forest represents a vital part of the Swedish economy and it forms part of the national identity of Sweden. The forest also provides jobs and raw materials to other industries so the damage caused by acid rain has a large scale effect on employment.

Other associated problems of acid rain include, breathing problems in humans especially those who suffer asthma problems in humans, especially in those who already suffer from asthma. It can also cause headaches, and swelling of the eyes, nose and throat. It presents a huge financial burden on Nordic countries. These countries spend a huge amount of money yearly trying to clean up the mess caused by acids rain. In 2002 a spokesman for Norwegian parliamentary foreign affairs committee said “Norway spends more than 100 million Krona (£8.7 million) every year for calcium treatment to  clean up after all the acid rain coming from Britain, among others”( http://www.telegraph.co.uk, 3rdAug 2003).

Various attempts have been made to tackle the issue. There have been international treaties and conventions to deal with the problem but some countries particularly the main polluting countries have notoriously failed to attend some meetings and fulfil their commitments. In some cases, countries have even refused to join agreements. In the early Eighties, Margaret Thatcher’s government repeatedly refused to join an international agreement to cut emissions by 30 per cent (www.independent.co.uk, 30th December, 2001).

Treaties such as   The Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP) which was signed in 1979, Sulphur Emissions Reduction Protocol and the 1999 Gothenburg Protocol to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-level Ozone –  which came into force in 2003 etc have all seen some success. We can all help deal with the problem in our own small ways by taking a small steps (like recycling, being efficient with electricity, cycling etc) to help preserve the environment but could the real solution to acid rain lie in this video clip?  http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=650486n

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