Thursday, 19 September 2013
Acid Rain, Air Quality and the Success of the International Joint Commission.
A good news story deserves praise. Here’s one that gets almost no publicity.
Back in the 80’s canoeists in Quebec through New Brunswick enjoyed sparkling clear water on lakes.
Fishermen were out of luck and the trees were dying.
The cause was acid rain. Ask yourself when was the last time you heard the term even used?
The response was a joint Canada US response that has morphed into the International Joint Commission. The result has been bilateral substantive improvements in the precursors to acid rain, with recovery documented in many previously sterile areas. A tribute to the governments of the day, the role of environmental groups to affect policy, and transboundary collaboration to solve a common problem.
Twenty years of the joint commission looking at a broader range of air quality issues documents some of these successes, identifies other beneficial gains such as reduction in precursors of ozone. While the document is very self-congratulatory, it is rare to be able to line up and compare results from both sides of the border. The long term trends for specific pollutants of interest are as well graphed as in any publication and worth perusing.
The document does not speak to the improvements in health outcomes expected from the air quality work but based on the demonstrable improvements from the work achieved by this undercelebrated, underrated International Joint Commission. Read the report at Air Quality Agreement 2012 report