Acid rain, caused predominantly by oil and coal burning, smelting, and car exhaust, has been falling throughout most parts of the east coast of the U.S., according to an explosive feature article in Mother Jones, December, 1977. The acidity of the rain contaminates the soils, damages crops, stunts the growth of trees, lowers the pH of even the most remote high altitude lakes, thus wiping out entire native fish species and causes other potentially disastrous occurrences. In over 50 percent of all the Adirondack lakes most remote from civilization, all the fish have died. Biologists at Cornell University found that rain and snow throughout the eastern U.S. falls with 100 times more acidity that it did a generation ago. It was the #8 censored story of 1977.
A subsequent investigative story in the June 15, 1979, issue of Science, revealed that the problem of acid rain had increased significantly and yet the mass media had not put it on the national agenda. That was the #16 censored story of 1979.
The #5 censored story of 1988, titled “Acid Rain – one of America’s Biggest Killers,” revealed that the problem of acid rain was no longer limited to contaminated soil, damaged crops, dying trees, and dead fish. The story, published in Vanguard Press, 1/28/88, reported there was strong circumstantial evidence that acid rain is a significant threat to human health and lives. A 1986 report by the Brookhaven National Laboratory of New York estimated that acid rain annually kills 50,000 Americans. Meanwhile, the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), an advisory body to Congress, estimated that the annual American death toll due to acid rain at 50,000 to 200,000.


A study, appearing in USA TODAY, 1/22/09, reported that Americans, living nearly three years longer than they were just two decades ago, owe up to five months of that longevity to cleaner skies. On average, cities included in the study reduced their pollution levels by one-third, cutting the level of small particles from 21 micrograms per cubic meter to 14 micrograms per cubic meter. Residents of Pittsburgh and Buffalo, which made the biggest gains against pollution, also increased their life spans the most, according to the USA TODAY article.
“It’s a good news story,” says Brigham Young University’s C. Arden Pope, author of the study that originally appeared in the January 22, 2009, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. “Our efforts to clean up our air appear to be worth it.”
It may be “a good news story” in 2009. But it would have been a much better uncensored news story in 1977 when it might have saved tens of thousands of American lives.

Those who cannot remember the past
are condemned to repeat it!
— George Santayana