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WeakenX-CE. The correct answer choice is (A)
Because the amount of acidic pollutants released into the air has decreased, the author concludes that the negative effects of acid rain will decrease as well. This argument is quite weak, as we don't know if there is a direct correlation between the amount of acidic pollutants in the air and the effects of acid rain. It is quite possible that just as much environmental damage can be caused by much smaller quantities of acid rain (i.e. that the effects are cumulative), or that just as much acid rain will fall despite the decreased amount of acidic pollutants in the air.
The causal relationship can be summarized as follows:
- Cause Effect
Decreased levels of acidic pollutants → Decreased damage from acid rain
Answer choice (A): This is the correct answer choice. The ability of some ecosystems to reduce the negative effects of increased levels of acids in the environment is irrelevant to determining whether decreased levels of acidic pollutants will decrease the damage from acid rain. Because this answer choice has no effect on the columnist's conclusion, it is correct.
Answer choice (B): If the amount of acid-neutralizing buffers released into the air has decreased alongside the decreased levels of acidic pollutants, then the remaining pollutants might not be neutralized as efficiently as before, and cause a comparable amount of damage in the form of acid rain. Because this answer choice implies that the damage from acid rain will not decrease as much as the columnist expects, it weakens her argument and is incorrect.
Answer choice (C): If the current decrease in acidic pollutants is expected to end soon, the columnist's optimism is not warranted. This answer choice weakens the argument and is incorrect.
Answer choice (D): If the environmental effects of acid rain are independent of the current acid rain levels, then less rain will not necessarily result in less damage. This answer choice weakens the argument and is incorrect.
Answer choice (E): If the soils of many ecosystems exposed to acid rain have already been exhausted of the minerals that help protect them from the rain's effects, then the lower levels of acidic pollutants might cause just as much damage as before. Because this answer choice implies that the columnist's optimism is unwarranted, it weakens her argument and is incorrect.