Global Warming Makes Allergies Worse

Chris Carnevale | April 8, 2013 | Climate Change, Energy Policy, Extreme Weather
Allergy Comic
Courtesy StickyComics.

Spring seems to finally be here!  The birds are chirping, the bees are humming, and depending on who you ask, the pollen is floating in the air like a thick fog of misery.  Allergy season is in full swing in the Southeast and if your town looks anything like my back yard in Charleston, you may be wondering if all that debris floating in the air is actually pollen or if, judging by the inordinate quantity of it, a volcano somewhere has blown a huge amount of ash all through the air.  The fact of the matter is that 2013 is predicted to be one of the worst years for pollen and allergies.  In fact, for thousands of Tennesseans, the season may be even worse as the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) has again released a list of the worst cities for allergy sufferers and Chattanooga, TN; Knoxville, TN and Memphis, TN top the list.  And, if that weren’t enough, the problem is predicted to get worse in years to come as the climate changes due to burning fossil fuels.

Rutgers University researchers have been carrying out studies on this topic and have found some interesting conclusions–mainly that global warming means that by 2040, there will be roughly twice as much pollen in the air as there is today.  The equation is roughly this: more carbon dioxide +  longer warm seasons = more pollen for a longer period of time.  This will mean more sniffling, sneezing, itching, and agonizing in general, but it will also have a large economic cost.  Allergies currently cost Americans billions of dollars every year in medical costs, lost productivity, and missed work days.Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate the allergy problem.  In the short term, there are a number of practices, such as these, that sufferers can implement to reduce their exposure to allergens.

The long term approach, though, must be to stop the pollution that causes global warming, and thus lengthens and worsens seasonal allergies.  We know global warming is caused primarily by the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and gas.  Making allergy woes worse, the pollution from burning these fuels is also known to be a contributing trigger of asthma attacks.

The good news is that we have the technology to transition away from fossil fuels and instead adopt clean, renewable energy.  If you want to help ensure a safe and healthy future for ourselves and future generations, please consider learning more and supporting our work.

Chris Carnevale
Based in Charleston, South Carolina, Chris is SACE’s Coastal Climate and Energy Manager and South Carolina State Affairs Liaison. His work focuses on building a critical mass of support for…
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