When my four-year-old sees spring flowers blooming, he doesn’t comment on the colors or the fragrance. Instead, he says: “Does this flower make pollen, Mommy?” That’s because his beloved babysitter is one of millions of Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies. He knows all too well about the discomfort and inconvenience of elevated pollen counts.
Less well-known is what is driving longer and more intense seasonal allergies. Because it’s us. You and me, and our skyrocketing carbon emissions.
Researchers are documenting how climate change is driving an increase in seasonal allergies. We’re not talking about some future problem, years down the line, such as sea level rise swamping the downtowns of major US cities. We are talking about today. Right now.
Allergies are no walk in the park, as our babysitter and countless others can attest. But the relationship between climate and pollen has major health implications that go beyond seasonal allergies. That’s because allergies can trigger asthma attacks. And as many as one in ten children have asthma.
2 Ways climate change makes allergies worse:
- Higher temperatures lengthen the spring and fall allergy seasons.
- More pollen is being produced per plant, a biochemical reaction to the increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Here’s how it looks in the Midwest, courtesy of MCAF partner, Climate Nexus:
Climate change is here, and it has wide-ranging health implications for our children.
We need a big plan for fighting climate change…
by Molly Rauch