I know the “Pros and Cons” chart for global warming is already quite lopsided, but make room for one more entry on the cons side: allergies. That’s right, climate change is likely to worsen your allergies, which means more sneezing, coughing, runny noses, watery eyes, and congestion.
According to a recent study unveiled at an American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology conference, pollen counts are expected to more than double over the next few decades. All of that pollen means that your allergy symptoms are bound to get a whole lot more miserable.
Not only will allergy seasons be more intense, they will start sooner and last longer. By 2040, the researchers anticipate that the peak of the pollen season will occur about a month before pollen season even began in 2000.
Led by Dr. Leonard Bielory, researchers at Rutgers University tested how an alteration in climate would change pollen. The scientists grew plants in laboratory settings that imitated anticipated climate levels, accounting for not only temperature, but also weather patterns and precipitation levels.
How do they explain the future influx of pollen? Evidently, the higher rate of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causes the plants to create more pollen. Worse yet, some scientists believe that the pollen itself will be even stronger than it is today.
The findings support previous research that determined that the amount of ragweed pollen has increased in the United States in the past 25 years.
While allergies may seem like one of the more insignificant consequences of global warming (particularly when compared to the annihilation of life as we know it), it is a more immediate outcome for people who dismiss climate change as a problem that will only affect people several lifetimes from now.
Even for those without allergies, the research is nothing to sneeze at. With the intensification of pollen, people who do not currently show symptoms are likely to find themselves more susceptible in the future. Or – perhaps more annoyingly – feeling compelled to say, “Gesundheit!” constantly.
Photo credit: thinkstock