Anelise Chen is the Daily’s “mollusk” correspondent. This week, the mollusk worries about how to maintain barriers in a dissolving world.
Growing up in Los Angeles in the early nineties, the mollusk had worried often about acid rain. Spawned in Taiwan, on an island choked with lush, photosynthetic matter, the mollusk had felt most at home among wet, squishy kin. Rain was not yet something to fear; she would play in it alongside the snails and polliwogs who lived in the shallow puddles by her house. But after she moved to LA, there was nothing but cars and smog, which clung in the air like the toxic atmosphere on Venus. Eventually, the mollusk learned that the smog precipitated into acid rain, which—her fourth-grade science teacher said—could sear the hair right off your head. The rain was just as acidic as lemon juice, and it had the power to corrode a car’s expensive paint job! Her teacher always seemed bitterly emphatic on this point, as though he had suffered personal losses. He told his students to construct rain catchers out of liter soda bottles and hang them outside. One dark afternoon, the mollusk heard pitter-patter on the roof. When the rain ceased, she ran out with her packet of pH strips. She watched in high suspense as the water absorbed into the strip, streaking it a dark, insalubrious yellow, just like Venus: acid rain. Read More