1980s Dire Warnings Of Acid Rain / Forest Die-Off Prove To Be Pure Fallacy From Hysterical Scientists a

I spent a few days with my wife in Amsterdam, and so blogging was a bit on the light side. Today’s story is a short one about acid rain and forest die-off. Most people over 40 will certainly recall that one.

Whenever scientists are completely wrong, they hope no one will notice years later and that all will be forgotten.

Such is the case of the 1970s forest die-off scare (acid rain). Back then a “consensus” of scientists warned that the Earth’s forests were being wasted away because of acidic rain produced by man’s emissions from the burning fossil fuels. Lots of background info on this here,

The first warnings of an acid rain induced forest die-off in Germany were sounded by scientist Bernhard Ulrich, who warned that polluted rain was causing the soil to become too acidic for trees, which in turn would soon get very ill and die. Moreover by 1983 there was a claimed consensus. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) recently wrote on the forest die-off scare:

In the year 1983, an extremely informative study that recently appeared and maintained that during the course of this alarm debate, that there was not a single forest scientist in Germany who did not agree with this diagnosis.”

The leading German daily then summarizes that the acid rain, forest die scare turned up in the end being just a wave of hysteria that had gripped the scientific community. Today nobody hears about the acid rain; the problem has literally just vanished from existence. FAZ writer Jürgen Kaube even asks in his piece: “What ever happened to forest die-off?”

We suspect the same will be true of global warming in about 20 years time. Maybe sooner – especially when we look at the recent record high sea ice levels, recent cooling weather sweeping across the USA and the dozens of predictions of a coming climate cool-down coming from experts.


19 responses to “1980s Dire Warnings Of Acid Rain / Forest Die-Off Prove To Be Pure Fallacy From Hysterical Scientists a”

  1. Brady

    Here is another reference, this time to a study showing the Swedish over reaction to the Acid Rain/Forest Death scare –
    I particularly liked these criticisms in the paper –
    .. the amount of dissolved organic carbon in them has continued to increase despite the stabilization of power station emissions around 1990. The reason is unknown, but the increase supports the idea that as power station emissions increased during the 20th century they may have partly suppressed organic acidity in lakes that was present in pre-industrial times—at higher levels than when it was assessed in 1990…
    That in turn means the power station emissions did not contribute as much to lake acidification as was thought when liming programs were instigated… it should be remembered that the handling of natural organic acidity was a poor example of how to treat dissenting scientific views…
    This shortcoming in the handling of organic acidity has contributed to mistakes in Swedish remediation measures (Bishop 1997) but might be a salutary example that will help avoid mistakes with other environmental issues.

  2. Brady

    Also, for those that understand Swedish … and doesn’t everyone! 🙂 … then here is an excellent 30 min critical thinking radio programme discussing the Aicd Rain Scare. How “everybody ran in the same direction” despite a some well publicised skeptical voices.
    Miljölarm – skogen dog inte –
    At the end of the programme the interviewer even asks if today’s Global Warming is similiar … but the Swedish professor says no … but says to be skeptical otherwise about other current political/emotional issues. Such “cognitive dissonance” is still rampant in Swedish academia. I give my international high school science students this as an exercise in recognising scares today.

    1. DirkH

      Sweden is a posterchild for a dictatorship of Political Correctness. Say something about the Muslim integration enabled by the 1/32th Black social democrat leader and your reputation is toast forever.

      1. DirkH

        ” about the Muslim integration ”
        Blech, I meant the other i-word: immigration.

  3. Ric Werme

    I read an article around the peak of the excitement that some of the spruce deaths in the mountains were due to storm winds – the stress on the trees would damage the root hairs as the tree tried to stay upright. The next summer in the White Mountains I found several examples where the tall spruces were dying, but the little ones about a meter tall looked gorgeous and were densely packed in with their neighbors.

    Lately they seem to be doing well, with “a growth rate never before achieved by the trees examined.” CO2? http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130830143910.htm


    Whatever happened with the Ozonhole?

    1. George Alexander

      Yea. The Ozone Hole.

      I am seriously believing that the Freon-Ozone Hole thing was/is a pile of manure.

    2. Jimbo

      The ozone hole is still there. Some say it was probably always there.

      NASA – December 2013
      …..More than 20 years after the Montreal Protocol agreement limited human emissions of ozone-depleting substances, satellites have monitored the area of the annual ozone hole and watched it essentially stabilize, ceasing to grow substantially larger. However, two new studies show that signs of recovery are not yet present, and that temperature and winds are still driving any annual changes in ozone hole size……

      Is this another case of acid rain killing trees? Only time will tell.

  5. Stephen Richards

    The disaster is that these scientists were never brought to justice and nor will the climate liars. That’s why every generation will see scares like these.

    1. Henning Nielsen

      And the answer to why these scientists are not brought to justice is that every generation craves some kind of doomsday myth, at least in Western societies. The believers are as guilty as the prophets. Although people only accept to believe part of the story; enough to give them a comfortable scare, but not enough to make any basic changes in their lifestyle.

      In a secularized and “rational” society, where religion no longer is a central force, it is natural that pseudo-science takes over this role.

      1. Jimbo

        One thing every single society, culture, tribe on this Earth has in common is RELIGION. Many in the west have abandoned religion (as you would normally understand it). A replacement was needed, ozone, acid rain and now catastrophic warming fit the bill. This is what is unfolding.

        The other pushing factor is the end of the cold war. Those ex communists in the west needed a new direction, something to fight against. Then Co2 came onto the scene.

        1. Jimbo

          Here are some references for my religion argument. CAGW is a New Age religion.

  6. Mindert Eiting

    Hopefully, you and your wife enjoyed your stay in Amsterdam. Don’t tell me that you did not rent a bike, as all tourists do. Our trees do very well and the soil is not acid although it became polluted centuries ago by many small Amsterdam factories dropping led and mercury, etc.

    In my opinion AGW has nothing to do with science anymore. It is a propaganda story. AGW scenario´s do not predict single weather events but one warm July month and one day of heavy rainfall were enough for the MSM here to tell the public that this will be normal in 2050. Always wait for the moment the public is the most susceptible to the message which is not in the winter of course. The public did not get as single fact, no graph of rain fall amounts showing more extremes, nothing but the holy scenario´s. I do not remember that the Acid Rain Scare did get so much propaganda. Interesting difference.

  7. DirkH

    At the time of the Waldsterben scare, the Greens made hay from it, and did their best to inflate the scare, by dragging dead trees through pedestrian areas and into parliament buildings, as silent witnesses of the destruction of the Earth by capitalism.

    Well it worked out rather nicely for them; years later their very own Fischer became boss of German NATO propaganda (as foreign minister) for the bombing of Serbia; so the trans adriatic pipeline could be build through newly acquired Albania.

    Well done Greens!

  8. Ulrich Elkmann

    This, by the way, is the cover story from DER SPIEGEL that launched le waldsterben nationally in Germany in 1981 (No. 27/1981, “Der Wald stirbt” – The Forest Is Dying) – just as they kicked off Global Warming five years later in 1986:

    If you want firebrand, end-of-the-world apocalyptic rhetoric, turned up to 11, look no further: The End Is Nigh, Ye Sinners.

  9. DirkH

    Danish university sacks acoustics researcher who investigated effects of wind turbine infrasound.

  10. Kevin Marshall (Manicbeancounter)

    “Today nobody hears about the acid rain.”
    I asked my 13 year old son earlier in the week what areas he was studying in geography. He mentioned acid rain.

  11. Mervyn

    We should hope climate alarmism will die down. But then, after climate gate, and the failure of the 2009 Copenhagen climate conference, we thought this would happen. But it did not.

    Today, when we read the newspapers or look at television, the alarmism seems ever present and more exaggerated… and it is never backed by science because the science is now irrelevant. It’s become all about political propaganda and an economically damaging environmental agenda.

    The “Billionaires Club” that was exposed in the recently released report by the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works demonstrates how the US policies on environment and climate have been hijacked by this powerful network of eco-bullies that remain behind a veil of secrecy and have infiltrated so many aspects of government administration.

    With such forces in play, we can expect this global warming agenda to continue for many years to come. These eco-bullies will not rest until (a) an international agreement on fossil fuel energy use is achieved, and (b) they succeed in de-industrializing the world.

  12. Chris

    Part of the reason “acid rain” stopped being a problem is because SO2 emissions were dramatically reduced following this “scare” in both Europe and North America. I personally doubt that this “solved” the probably exaggerated problem, but someone should look up and confirm the SO2 emission reductions from the 70s to present.

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