Acid Rain

When you look at your refrigerator door, and there are notes from 2007 still attached by those little magnets, you know you are getting old. I pulled off one hand written note from my daughter Hannah. It was a quote, “The trouble with ‘conventional wisdom’ is, that it’s usually wrong.”  The source? Ted Olbrich, July 14, 2007.

Now, I have no idea why I said that,  nor do i know why my daughter decided to write it down and stick it up on the refrigerator, but, I still believe it is true. I’m leading up to something, but I need to get you emotionally charged, so I’ll risk losing half of my friends with this, which has something to do with Cambodia vs. US politics, but you’d probably never guess it.

Pollution from Bejing, China can easily be seen from weather reports.

Pollution from Bejing, China can easily be seen from weather reports.

About three years ago I was on one of my last flights from Phnom Penh to Ratanakiri, Cambodia with Mission Aviation Fellowship in their Cessna 206 (They’ve since pulled out of Cambodia). I was seated beside the pilot, Winston Usher, the sky was blue and there were some “popcorn-puffball” clouds drifting about, I looked ahead and I was shocked to see this massive yellow-brown strip of sky heading toward us on the northern horizon. “What’s that?”, I pointed. “Oh, that’s Chinese pollution”, commented Winston. “I see it all the time.” “What? We’re a thousand miles from China!”, I blurted back, “Doesn’t matter.” said Winston, “the air currents bring it down, That’s what causes our acid rain”.

I’d often wondered why 3/16 inch thick, painted steel tubing would rust out in  three to five years in Cambodia. Thin, painted, roofing sheets can go in a year. The sulphur forms sulfuric acid and it chews things up fast. It even eats the calcium out of concrete. When I saw this picture taken in Beijing I could see why.

The skyline in Bejing, China. Left picture is after a cleansing rain, right picture is the same area on a calm day.

The skyline in Bejing, China. Left picture is after a cleansing rain, right picture is the same area on a calm day.

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