Hay Fever Getting Worse? It’s Probably Because of Climate Change

We can all be pretty sure by now that climate change is affecting our planet’s future. Climate change is also affecting many things that, until now, have gone unnoticed. For example, the change in climate has had a gradual, nearly imperceptible effect on those suffering from certain allergies. 

It may not be noticeable over a year or two years. However, when scaled over 20 years or so, it becomes obvious. Many people are noticing an increase in allergies such as hay fever when flowers begin to bloom and bees to buzz.

Didn’t feel this bad a few years ago? Are your eyes are puffier, your nose is running, and you can’t seem to get away from it? Is pollen getting stronger or something?

We all know someone who is, or we ourselves are suffering from this annoying hindrance every summer, and luckily, we can now point a finger at the cause. Research has shown that it’s not all in your head: the culprit is climate change.

How Climate Change is Affecting Allergies

In the last 15 years, the number of studies finding an increase in seasonal rhinitis (hay fever) and asthma has grown significantly. Some claim that pollen-related rhinitis has tripled in certain countries, and others that it has doubled globally. Currently, an estimated 23 million people suffer from hay fever in the United States.

One of the leading answers for the increase in allergic reactions is climate change. The risks and timing of allergic reaction depend on region and time of year, but usually allergies flare up around the beginning of spring when plants begin to release vast quantities of pollen.

With increases in global temperatures, the mating season of plants has become longer, and scientists have concurred that many trees and other plant life are beginning to bloom earlier each year. 

Carbon dioxide is one of the most crucial elements for photosynthesis. With carbon dioxide being one of the main greenhouse gases causing climate change, it becomes quite easy to follow the link between the two — namely, that an increase in carbon dioxide in our atmosphere equals an increase in pollen production.

A study undertaken by Lewis Ziska and Frances Caulfield from the U.S. Department of Agriculture discovered that the current levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere has caused pollen production to increase 130%. And they have predicted that if this was to continue, it will increase by 320%.

The study concludes with a stark warning: “The role of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide with respect to distribution, growth and pollen production of weeds impacting human health should be of growing concern.”

Is it Possible to Pack Up and Move Away From it?

Aside from the obvious stress and upheaval to life this would cause, it doesn’t seem like it would be worth your time. Except if your allergies are exceptionally awful, but that’s up to you. But where would you go?

With growing temperatures, climates are beginning to change across the globe. As climates change, plant species begin to migrate. With that migration comes an increase in pollen. Even desert areas such as the U.S. Southwest have experienced severe booms in pollen in recent decades.

A worry of many researchers, and especially in the study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is Ragweed. Its pollen is one of the most likely to induce allergic rhinitis. It is believed that allergies to ragweed will only continue to grow, as the weed is difficult to contain and is spreading exponentially.

It often seems odd what climate change can affect, and then it seems obvious once the link is discovered. But climate change affects nearly everything in one way or another. News like this shows clearly how climate change can influence even some of the smallest things in life, and that it affects all of us in one way or another. 

As a nation, we need to stand up against climate change and do whatever we can to prevent it. Even the smallest efforts can make a difference, as even the smallest effects of climate change can affect you. No one is safe from the dangers of climate change.