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Claim: Climate Alarmists Follow Acid Rain Scare Playbook

By Larry Bell

There is nothing coincidental about common déjà vu features of a CO2 climate crisis-premised war on fossil fuels and a hysterically-hyped sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission acid rain environmental calamity a half-century ago.

Both scams have claimed to be based upon dire computer model-based predictions calling for costly interventions. Both also involved the same sorts of crony constituencies: alarmist “scientific authorities,” deep-pocket NGO promoters, and headline-hungry politicians eagerly rewarded by swarms of credulous media reporters.

The acid rain scare began in 1967 when Svant Odén, a soil scientist at the Agricultural College of Uppsala, wrote a broadly circulated sensationalist article about forestry damage he attributed to a “chemical war” between nations of Europe in the leading Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter.

Growing public concern regarding environmental impacts of industrial-sourced acid rain prompted the Swedish government to convene a group of experts to investigate the matter which was chaired by Bert Bolin, the head of Stockholm’s International Meteorological Institute.

The Bolin panel’s 1971 report was a flimsy political document clothed in scanty science which authoritatively concluded that, “The [human] emission of sulfur into the atmosphere . . . has proved to be a major environmental problem.” The assessment only sheepishly mentioned that European forests had actually seen considerable increases.

One also had to read 50 pages further into the report to discover that the “has proved to be” reference wasn’t really assured at all. It went on to say, “It is very difficult to prove that damage, such as reduced growth rates due to the acidification of the soil and related changes in the plant nutrient situation, has in fact occurred.”

This disclaimer regarding the existence of scientific certainty is reminiscent of another one buried 774 pages into IPCC’s Third Assessment Report summary exactly three decades later. It stated, “In research and modeling of the climate, we should be aware that we are dealing with a chaotic, nonlinear coupled system, and that long-term predictions of future climate states is not possible.”

In 1980, under President Carter’s prompting, the U.S. Congress passed legislation for a ten-year National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program (NAPAP). Nevertheless, neither the U.S. nor the U.K. signed a 1985 Helsinki Protocol which committed Western parties to cut their emissions to 30 percent below 1980 levels.