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17:00 - 19:00 8 May 2015

The rise and fall of acid rain: a story of science and politics


Chadwick Building B05 | Chadwick Building (link Map)
Gower St | London | WC1E 6BT | United Kingdom

Open to: Academic | Alumni | Public | Student
Admission: Free
Ticketing: Ticketed

Speaker information

Dr Richard Wright, Senior Scientist, Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA)

Acid rain first came to the fore in the early 1970s following the first UN environment conference in Stockholm. Fish had been lost from thousands of lakes and rivers in Scandinavian, and forests in central Europe were threatened. Scientific sceptics and leading politicians denied that burning of fossil fuels in the UK, Germany and Poland could cause fish death in remote areas thousands of km distant. The UK was called “the dirty man in Europe”. But the scientific evidence built up through large national and international research programmes. Paleolimnological studies here at UCL showed that acidification of lakes had occurred in the last few decades. Large-scale experiments showed that acidification was due to acid rain. The political breakthrough came in the mid-1980s with the signing of the UN Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution. Now climate change poses an additional threat. The rise and fall of acid rain in Europe is a tale of interwoven science and politics.


Anson Mackay
+44 (0)20 7679 0558 | a.mackay@ucl.ac.uk


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