Exclusive: EPA acid rain website teaches kids to avoid cars, air conditioning and fossil fuels

An Environmental Protection Agency website teaching kids about acid rain instructs children, using cartoon animals, to avoid cars, limit air conditioning and to “buy cars that don’t make the air as dirty.”

The EPA’s “Acid Rain Kids Site” features the story of Lucy Lake, a lake “living” in the mountains, and the “sick” animals “around her.”

“On a normal day, the plants and animals at Lucy Lake have enough food and clean water to keep them healthy,” reads the EPA site. “The wind carries pure air, and the rain comes down clear and clean.”

“But lately, Lucy Lake and her friends have not been feeling very well,” reads the story.

Kids then see a cartoon depiction of a browned, sweating, “sick” tree, a frowning lake and a fish that appears to be gasping for air, accompanied by the following text: “All the plants and animals of the forest gather together to talk about the problem. ‘Why are we sick?’ asks Frannie Frog. ‘What is doing this to us?’ asks Sammy Spruce. ‘What can we do?’ asks Lucy Lake. No one has any answers.”

Thankfully, two people on a hike walk by. A cartoon frog stops the hikers to tell them about the dangers of “acid rain.”

“The creatures of the forest gather around and tell the hikers about their problems. ‘We are hungry,’ ‘We’re tired and weak,’ ‘Our babies are sick,’ the plants and animals complain. ‘Can you help us?’ they all ask. The hikers both nod their heads. ‘Yes,’ one hiker says. ‘I think I know what the problem is,; he says. ‘It’s acid rain.’”

One of the hikers then explains where “acid rain” comes from, citing the danger of pollution caused by power plants.

“Acid rain comes from chemicals in the air, or ‘pollution,’” says the hiker in the story. “A lot of this pollution comes from power plants that burn fossil fuels, like coal, to make electricity. We use this electricity to make our lights and our TVs work. Pollution also comes from the cars and trucks people drive. This pollution also causes acid rain.”

“With the help of the plants and animals,” the hikers then make a list of things that will stop the acid rain from killing the cute cartoon creatures. The list includes, turning the lights off when leaving a room, not using air conditioning “as much,” riding buses and trains to avoid cars, and buying vehicles “that don’t make the air as dirty.”

The story ends, unsurprisingly, with the hikers saving the forest and all its creatures, including Sammy Spruce, Wendy Wind and a gigantic smiling raindrop.

The EPA website contains an “Acid Rain Activity Book” that includes several acid-rain-themed games for kids.

It also includes a “Message for Adults”: “Acid rain is a problem that affects us all … The message to spread, however, is that we can all make a difference and help reduce the presence of acid rain. We hope this Web site will provide younger children with basic information about acid rain and help them form a foundation of knowledge about, and an interest for, a variety of environmental issues.”

It’s unclear whether acid rain is still a noteworthy problem. Some environmentalists claim it is, but others, including the Environmental Defense Fund, a left-wing organization calling for cap-and-trade policies to battle climate change, says problems related to acid rain pollution have been largely been “solved.”