A 25 year study by Welsh scientists has recently concluded and suggests climate change might be hampering the recovery of Earth’s rivers from the effects of acid rainfall.

This research study was conducted by Cardiff University Professor Steve Ormerod and biosciences researcher Isabelle Durance. The effort was undertaken in Wales and studied 14 middle-Wales rivers, involving the assessment of the number and variety of insects present each year in these rivers. The scientists said they also measured concentrations of acid and other aspects of stream chemistry.

Due to efforts to improve the levels of acid rain, the average acidity in rivers have fallen overall. The researchers said they had expected to find as many as 29 insect species re-colonizing the less acidic waters in these rivers. The findings were, however, disappointing. They showed a large shortfall in biological recovery, with just four new insect species added to the recovering rivers they sampled.

According to Professor Ormerod, “since the 1970s, there have been huge efforts to cleanup sources of acid rain, and our research shows that rivers are heading in the right direction.” This is duly noted here in America, where we have reduced our use of fossil fuels, especially coal, over time. “However, our results support the theory that acid conditions during rainstorms kill sensitive animals,” he added.

The study appeared in the Dec. 12 online edition of the Journal of Applied Ecology.

You can help by conserving energy or driving the car less. Governments can pass laws restricting pollution levels, or can use a variety of methods such as tradable emission permits to reduce acid rain.

Actions you can take include: writing the coal firing utilities and ask them to use coal with a low sulfur content, remove the sulfur from smoke their plants release, and to limit processes known to generate high levels of acid rain. You can also ask that newer plants install scrubbers, or use the atmospheric fluidized-bed combustion system or to convert to Limestone injection multiple burning systems. Older plants have a harder time because of the high cost of conversion.

Not all utilities use coal but if you know of those that do, please call or write.

Join and support the Citizens Lead for Energy Action Now (CLEAN) . Going to their site you can find all sorts of promotions that you can get directly involved with.

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