Unlike water and oil, science and government can mix together, and in doing so can bring about effective, meaningful, and fair public policy. A good example of this cooperation can be found in the results of the federal government's investigation into the causes and remedies for acid rain—an investigation yielding important rules regarding air pollution.

On the first Earth Day in 1970, only a handful of North American scientists were aware of the potential threat of acid rain. But by the end of the '70s, Congress had authorized a half-billion-dollar research effort—the National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program (NAPAP)—and "acid rain" had become household words. NAPAP's mission was to study the causes and effects of acid rain and recommend ways to reverse possible damage. Its effort was brought to a close in 1990, with its legacy taking wonderful form in subsequent passage of amendments to the Clean Air Act of 1970,...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?