Re: Environmental Issues (fwd)

Russ Maatman (
Fri, 7 Jun 1996 12:42:59 -0500 (CDT)

To the ASA group:

Bill Hamilton wrote

> Henry Erbes wrote:
> >On the initial reflector message, acid rain was also included. That
> > acid rain is a result of fossil fuel combustion seems well documented.
> > And there was/ is damage to fragile ecosystems, such as Lakes in the
> > Adorondacks. Recently EPA has reported that the current adverse
> > effects, overall, are currently not as bad as they were estimated at
> > first. Better research, more data, better emission controls???
> Several years ago the late Warren Brookes, a columnist for the Detroit News
> and the Wall Street Journal, wrote a couple of columns on acid rain. He
> was claiming that studies of sediment in the lakes and/or forest soils (I
> don't remember the details now) indicated that in prehistoric times the
> Adirondack lakes had a significantly lower pH than htey have now. I
> believe the suspected reason was that human activities such as logging and
> building had reduced the amount of decaying material on the forest floor,
> which had reduced the inflow of acidic water into the lakes. (It's been a
> number of years since I read this, and it's not my field. If there is
> interest, I'll see if I can find the articles in my files.)
> Anyway, my vague, poorly formulated question is: Is there anything to this?
> If there is, it would allow us to discuss the issue of acidic lakes in the
> Adirondacks in tersm of what is desirable now, rather than in terms of
> rhetoric about "returning them to their natural state."

I too read an article about acid rain and the Adironacks a few years
ago. The thesis was this: (1) Before logging started, there was acidic
runoff due to decay, as Bill states. (2) Logging or clear-cutting produced
enough alkaline material to neutralize much of the acid. So, there
are pictures of Teddy Roosevelt fishing in the Adirondacks. (3) We
could today easily neutralize the Adirondacks acid by liming, spending
perhaps $500,000 per year. In other words, mammoth projects to counteract
acid rain effects are not necessary.

Like Bill, I cannot remember exactly where I read the article. But
I think it was in *Policy Review* three or four years ago.


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Russell Maatman 401 Fifth Ave. SE
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