Acid rain has been one of the first and longest running of the multi-national environmental issues. The phenomenon was described in the 1950s and 60s by noted scientists such as Dr Eville Gorham, Dr Svante Odén and Dr Harold Harvey. Scientific and public reaction to their work was generally negative.
Over the past two decades, the scientific understanding of the problem has dramatically improved. As this information became understood by the public, support for the control of atmospheric pollution increased to the point where virtually all industrialised countries are now implementing sulphur dioxide control programmes.
The industrial reaction to environmental control has become much more positive over the past few years with many industrial sectors now being equal partners in discussions of solutions to environmental problems. While pollution control programmes cost considerable amounts of money, it has been shown that these costs are manageable and that clean environments are conducive to economic development.
Opinion polls have shown that the public in Canada and the U.K., for example, places high priority on the need for environmental protection.
The positive industrial attitude, the increased public concern and the need to understand the science of complex environmental issues, in order to design the best possible control programme, together necessitate the involvement of environmental scientists in public debates if rational decisions are to be taken.