Acid Rain

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The Acid Rain Debate
Mass media has unequivocally played a forceful role in our society over the years. It has helped to shape our opinions, increase our knowledge, and maybe even mislead us at times. With the emergence of the Internet and popular social media outlets, society is bombarded with constant information. In regards to scientific data, most people don’t even consider reading an actual science paper for the information they need. Relying on mass media for second hand scientific information seems to be the norm in this day and age. The issue we are faced with is whether or not the data acquired is legitimate or accurate. There have been numerous debates about particular issues portrayed to the public through mass media. One particular scientific controversy that has had a significant impact on society is the acid rain debate which I will focus on. Opinionated individuals from various standpoints deliver information with often biased points of view, which can lead to different parties understanding the story in a unique way that changes with time. This in itself creates controversy. Unfortunately, this misleading information has only added further mystification to the debate itself leading to confusion among the public.
So what is acid rain? Acid rain is identified as precipitation that is acidic due to high levels of hydrogen ions. It is a combination of wet and dry deposition from the atmosphere containing high amounts of nitric and sulfuric acids which can be the result of natural or man-made sources, such as volcanoes and emissions of sulfur dioxides and nitrogen oxides respectively. This occurs when these gases react in the atmosphere with water, oxygen, and other chemicals. The problem of acid rain has be...

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...ment, it is amazing how one could forget about the issue at hand. What about all the damage done to rivers, wildlife, and plants? How could we all forget about this? It was in the 1980s that things took a turn for the better. With measures taken to reduce sulfur dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere, a huge improvement in acid rain pollution was witnessed by the end of the 80’s. There was a switch from coal to gas and scrubbers were put into factory and power station emissions. It seemed like the issue was under control, at least in the public’s eye. Later in the 1990’s, the media had a field day with coverage about the depletion of the ozone, and then of course there was climate change issues including global warming. The media influence the majority of the public of thinking these issues were more relevant at that time due to the intensity of their reporting.

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