by Harriet Shugarman, Climate Mama
What is the connection between the proposed XL Pipeline that would carry Tar Sands Oil from Alberta, Canada to Texas and my children’s health? And why would I risk arrest to stop this pipeline from being built?
My son suffers terribly from seasonal allergies; he is also extremely allergic to poison ivy, something that is prolific in my neighborhood. Doctors are telling us that seasonal allergies are on the rise, and that poison ivy is lasting longer and appearing later in the fall and earlier in the spring. Scientists are noticing too and are looking more closely at the links between climate change and public health.
My son’s allergies require him to take countless allergy medications that mask some but not all of his symptoms. He loves fall soccer and spring lacrosse, but every day he plays, he pays the price for being outside. Also, each fall and spring it seems we take a trip to the doctor for stronger medicine than we can get over the counter to treat his annual and reoccurring reactions to poison ivy. We joke that he is “allergic to New Jersey.” Unfortunately it’s not a joke and we see his suffering and his allergies getting worse and worse every year.
According to studies published by the US National Library of Medicine, the US Department of Agriculture and researchers at Harvard and Duke universities, increases in carbon dioxide — a greenhouse gas that in its “manmade” form is the number one contributing factor to climate change — is aggravating allergies and worsening the toxicity levels of poison ivy. High CO2 levels were shown to produce more allergenic forms of urushiol, the toxin in poison ivy that makes you itch.
Also, ragweed, a common cause of seasonal allergies in adults and children, produces “super charged and more potent” pollen with increases of CO2, causing more sneezing and asthma-like symptoms. Studies are also pointing out that this CO2 laden pollen is more allergenic then other forms of pollen.
The USDA found that “jumping from preindustrial atmospheric carbon dioxide levels (280ppm) to 1999 levels (370ppm) doubled the amount of pollen that ragweed produces.” And according to a recent article by Rodale.com, ”Allergies account for about half of asthma attack triggers, meaning skyrocketing pollen counts of fast-growing trees in the spring and ragweed in the fall are landing more people in the hospital for asthma symptoms.”
For my children’s health and for their future I have ”drawn my line in the sand” and will be asking President Obama to stand with me and help fight for my children’s health and for their future. This proposed pipeline is one giant “nail in the coffin” perpetuating our dependence on fossil fuels and slowing down our move to a carbon-free energy future — a necessity to ensure cleaner air for my children to breath.
For information and many ways you too can fight for clean air for our children’s health, JOIN MOMS CLEAN AIR FORCE.
Photo Credit: Tar Sands Action Creative Commons/Flickr