Chemistry of atmospheres, 2nd edition

Chemistry of atmospheres, 2nd edition

Environmental Pollution 77 (1992) 95-96 Book reviews cost. 'Acid Politics' analyses such differences convincingly and comprehensively. The reason for...

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Environmental Pollution 77 (1992) 95-96

Book reviews cost. 'Acid Politics' analyses such differences convincingly and comprehensively. The reason for the abrupt change in German policy in 1982 was ostensibly the discovery of forest decline, thought to be due to acid rain. Forest decline aligned many disparate interests behind stricter emission controls. It was Germany's equivalent of the Falklands war, serving to unite the country at a difficult time and to distract attention from the increasing nuclear power programme. I found the analyses in 'Acid Politics' useful in clarifying many aspects which puzzled me at the time, such as the reliance on obviously flawed methodology for assessing the extent of forest damage. The results of the latter are still with us in the UNECE forest damage surveys which give rise in Britain to the annual ritual of environmental pressure groups asserting that about 80% of British forests are damaged by pollution, while the State forest authority cannot find any unequivocal damage at all. British policies are clarified too. For instance, why did the UK not join the '30% Club' ( a group of nations committed to reducing S emissions by 30% by 1993) when it had already reduced emissions by 25%? Answer: this would have conflicted with energy projections issued in support of the development of a nuclear reactor at Sizewell, then the subject of a long public enquiry. Reading this book should convince environmental scientists that there is a great deal more to environmental policy making than clarifying scientific issues. There are implications in the book for future problems too, as the authors point out in a chapter on emerging issues and climate change. For non-Germans there is much information of general interest and usefulness in the descriptions of the German context, and no doubt the same applies to non-Britons. There is useful specific information too: this book would enable you to distinguish a Bundesimissionsschutzverordnung from the Grossfeurungsanlagenverordnung; HMIP from HSE and HSC. I recommend it to anyone interested in the application of scientific results to environmental policy.

Acid Politics: Environmental and Energy Policies in Britain and West Germany. By S. Boehmer-Christiansen and J. Skea, Belhaven Press, London and New York, 1991. 296pp. ISBN 1-85293-116-7. Price £39.50. This is not a book about environmental science, but it is one which environmental scientists would benefit from reading. It describes the approaches used by two countries, the UK and the old Federal Republic of Germany, to the problems of'acid rain' in the 1970s and 1980s. Until 1982, both countries resisted pressure from the Scandinavian countries and elsewhere to reduce emissions of SO 2 and NO x. In that year, however, German policy abruptly changed course and by 1988 most power stations had been fitted with S removal equipment, and an increasing number with NOx removal equipment too. The UK, in contrast, continued to resist the imposition of such technologies, until in 1988 it was forced to concede a rather weaker package of controls embodied in the European Community's Large Combustion Plant Directive. 'Acid Politics' explores the cultural, economic, political and administrative reasons for this difference in approach. The major scientific issues related to acid rain are summarized briefly, but competently. The two countries are well-chosen for such a comparison, having similar populations and (in the 1960s) similar dependence on coal as an energy source. In other respects, the countries differ profoundly. In British usage, 'pollution' is something which can be shown, however tenuously, to be doing some damage. In Germany, the mere presence of a foreign substance in the environment constitutes pollution. Other linguistic differences are also revealing. The party political system in Germany, with its reliance on proportional representation and coalition government, allows more effective public debate on issues such as acid rain than British two-party politics, where influence on policy tends to be confined to Government and Civil Service insiders. Competition for power between various levels in the German bureaucracy (Federal, Lander, municipal) tends to drive environmental regulation faster, while in Britain the dominance of Whitehall, and its management of pollution control professionals, dissipates any energy. In Germany, technology is valued, the need to develop pollution control technology is seen as an opportunity: in Britain, technology is not valued, control technology is seen as a

Richard Skeflington

Chemistry of Atmospheres, 2nd edition. By R. P. Wayne. Oxford Science Publications, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1991,427 pp. ISBN 0-19-855574-1. Price £45.00 (hardback); £19.50 (paperback).

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Book reviews

This book, as its title implies, does not deal exclusively with the earth's atmosphere. On picking it up, I wondered how the diverse atmospheres of Venus and Jupiter could be integrated with that of Earth, and was prepared for a catalogue of atmospheric composition. Instead, the processes which control the evolution of all planetary atmospheres were woven together in a way which held my attention. Inevitably, most of the information and detail concerns the Earth, and the ways in which man perturbs the atmosphere. Unusually for such a book, the author stresses the need for action concerning what we are doing to the atmosphere, rather than just portraying the bare facts. The weight of current knowledge is brought to bear on these convictions, yet there is no attempt to suggest that we now have all the answers. Indeed, in the preface to the second edition, the author makes the point that much of our recent knowledge of the 'ozone hole' could not have been predicted when the first edition went to press. The second edition of this comprehensive approach to atmospheric chemistry updates the first edition (1985) with the major advances in our knowledge and understanding of the Earth's atmosphere, and of the atmospheres of other planets, which have been made in the last five years. The rapid pace of our increasing knowledge of atmospheric chemistry, and the rapidly increasing general interest in the way our atmosphere behaves, mean that such updates become necessary all too soon. Concepts such as the 'ozone hole' are now commonly discussed and taught even in the first years of primary school, and although the chemistry is not addressed at this stage, the underlying issues are widely discussed. This book is not, however, for the general reader. In the preface to the first edition, the author describes the book as arising from a course taught to final year chemistry undergraduates at Oxford, and the greatest benefit will be gained from readers with more than a passing interest in chemistry and physics. That is not to say that the more generally interested scientists will not gain an immense amount from the text, if he or she is not overawed by details of spectroscopic notation or chemical kinetics shorthand. The thorough cross-referencing allows the reader to catch up on the chemistry required to gain a good working knowledge of the issue at hand. The bibliographies at the end of each chapter are usefully annotated, to allow the reader access to the original

scientific papers and technical reviews, but the lack of specific references in the text may irritate the specialist who wishes to follow a particular line of thought. This book is a textbook; it is not to be read from cover to cover at one sitting, nor is it a comprehensive review of the details of each topic, but it does give an entry point for the general reader and the specialist alike to more general books, and to detailed reviews in the scientific literature. After a preliminary survey of the chemical composition of the Earth's atmosphere, there is an overview of the relevant physical and meteorological properties which control atmospheric behaviour, and an introduction to photochemistry and kinetics as applied to atmospheres. The following two chapters occupy a third of the book, and consider the chemistry of ozone in the stratosphere, and the chemistry of the troposphere. These chapters provide the basic understanding of chemical processes which is necessary to appreciate the influence of aerosol propellants (CFCs) on the 'ozone hole', and the complexities underlying the debate on ~acid rain'. Following these topical subjects there is a brief description of atmospheric ions, and of optical emission in the atmosphere (the airglow), before an update of our knowledge and understanding of the atmospheres of other planets gained principally from space missions which were initiated long before the first edition, but only came to fruition in the past two years. The final chapter moves to an even longer timescale, and draws on the preceding chapters to show the fundamental processes, not restricted to the Earth, which control the evolution of atmospheres, and how these processes work to make the 'greenhouse effect' so important for the future of life on this planet. A book such as this cannot cover every aspect of atmospheric chemistry, but I was surprised to find so little on the experimental approaches which have provided the data, both from the laboratory and the field. Improvements and innovations in measurement techniques have driven many of the recent advances in our knowledge. The book is generally well produced, and easy to read, but with a number of typographical errors in the early chapters. The figures are small, but referenced to the original publications. To end on a congratulatory note, the 19 pages of index will be invaluable to the reader who wants to use this book as a general reference on atmospheric chemistry.

J. N. Cape