CTI 1: Oh look the climate is changing! I tend to sneeze a lot and I’ve even got a rash?

Author:  Mihaela Damian, born in Brasov in 1987. Graduated from Bucharest University with a Bachelor degree in Political and Social Sciences and later obtained her Master degree in Intercultural Communication from Transilvania University. Lives in Brasov where she works as a Teacher trying to be a source of inspiration for the young generation who she hopes will grow up to cherish and respect the environment.

Sneezing a lot? Having a sore throat and breathing difficulties? Do you have bloody eyes and are lately wasting tears for no particular reason? Well if you are not coming down with a cold after those numerous ice-creams you devoured this summer, you are most likely allergic.

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At this point a justifiable question would be “what does this more or less common affection got to do  with climate change?”. Well, it appears that the growing level of CO2 in the atmosphere has triggered, alongside other popular drawbacks of climate change, a rise in the production of pollen. Research has been done in the field leading to the conclusion that pollen production rises along with the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The studies done by the ecologist Lewis Ziska, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for instance proved that the pollen production per plant doubled along with the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere reaching a production of 10 grams per plant in 2000. This trend remains ascendant and could double again by 2075.

It is however just to say that the glass is still half full when speaking of an increase in pollen production, as it contributes directly to a boost in crop production. But given the other negative effects that climate change is proved to have on agriculture, such as floods, wildfires, droughts and so one, it is hard to think that this positive aspect will have a serene future.

At the same time it should be noted that the rise of pollen production affects quite drastically the quality of life of those who have an allergy and bears a pricy toll on the health system, and thus on all our pockets. According to allergists more and more patients have reported a worsening in their condition, while children are coming into their cabinets and are diagnosed with an allergic reaction at younger ages and at a higher rate than in the past 10 years.

Nonetheless patients who have an allergic reaction and asthma at the same time will find that this latter condition is exacerbated by the rise of pollen production. But the day to day drawbacks caused by an allergy may be the most annoying of all. Choosing to stay indoors during the peak of the allergy season, not being able to open a window at night, or even your car window, finding that not only pollen but also mold gets you in a bad mood, are daily inconveniences that can surely ruin your day. Of course we shouldn’t put the blame of an allergy increase solely on the rise of pollen production. Other chemicals and even our scarce interaction with bacteria in our early childhood due to hygienic exaggerations are also factors determining the rise of allergies. Still the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere is a matter of prime concern for ecologists and its link to pollen production is significantly important for scientists and it should be a concern for us all, even if we haven’t been diagnosed with an allergy yet.

Consequently if you have a food allergy, skin allergy or you are affected by the common hay fever you should think of corroborating the usual treatment prescribed by your doctor with a greener life style… and of course hope that more and more people decide to do the same.

by Mihaela Damian


Learn more :

Climate change linked to more pollen, allergies, asthma” – USA TODAY

With climate change, longer, stronger pollen seasons” – GlobalChange.gov

2009 National Climate Assessment – Climate Change Impacts on Human Health
– GlobalChange.gov

Recent warming by latitude associated with increased length of ragweed pollen season in central North America” – PNAS.org

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