Year 4, Month 6, Day 15: Today Is The Tomorrow You Worried About Yesterday

USA Today tells us (again!) about allergies:

MELROSE PARK, Ill. — From the roof of the Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in the Chicago suburbs, an 83-year-old retired doctor finds troubling evidence of why so many people are sneezing and itching their eyes.

Joseph Leija counts the pollen and mold spores that collect on slides inside an air-sucking machine atop the six-story building. “There’s been an increase, no doubt about it,” he says of the 5 a.m. weekday counts that he’s been doing as a volunteer for 24 years.

“My allergies are much worse than they used to be,” says Amanda Carwyle, a mom of three who lives 95 miles south in Pontiac, Ill. “I used to be able to take a Benadryl or Claritin and be fine.” Now, despite three medications and allergy shots that make her feel a bit like a zombie, she says her eyes are watery and her head stuffy. “I’m so miserable.”

Good health! May 31:

All the self-styled “fiscal conservatives” who loudly assert that addressing global climate change would cost too much need to start paying attention to the externalities which accompany the rapidly intensifying greenhouse effect. Repairing infrastructure, revamping agriculture, cleaning up after the tornadoes and hurricanes — all these take money, and lots of it.

Now we can add another item to the list: the cumulative cost in human time and productivity due to worsening allergies. Any hay fever sufferer will agree that there’s nothing funny about the affliction, and when the number of hours lost to runny noses, streaming eyes, and asthmatic attacks are toted up, the sum should be cause for alarm, even to those politicians who’ve built their careers on attacking climate science’s conclusions.

While antihistamine manufacturers can look forward to record-breaking profits, the public health consequences of continuing to ignore the climate crisis are nothing to sneeze at.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 6, Day 7: Nothing To Sneeze About.

The LA Times notes that the greenhouse effect is going to make allergies more severe.

The sneezing, eye-watering, itchy-throated misery that comes with allergies is on the rise, led by a growing numbers of Americans sensitive to ragweed and mold. And in certain big cities — Phoenix, Las Vegas and the Riverside-San Bernardino area among them — the misery of ragweed allergies has lots more company than in others, says a new national study.

The study, to be released by Quest Diagnostics Health Trends, identifies the U.S. cities where allergies to ragweed and mold are most common, based on test results for allergens nationwide. Those sensitive to mold were most plentiful in Dallas, Riverside-San Bernardino, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Chicago.

The study found that sensitization to ragweed and mold increased 15% and 12%, respectively, over the study’s four years. That’s consistent with recent research suggesting that rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are causing a dramatic increase in the release of ragweed pollen, while rising temperatures promote an increase in birch tree pollen, a major allergen in Europe.

Aaaaah-choo! Sent May 26:

As the greenhouse effect intensifies, we’re going to be seeing more and more adverse effects at all levels of experience — from disasters at the regional and national scales all the way to upticks in such localized miseries as poison ivy and allergic asthma. It would be nice to think the denialists will relinquish their bizarre conspiracy theories when the pollen count gets high enough, but if increases in the severity and frequency of tornadoes aren’t enough to make them acknowledge the reality of climate change, a few million runny noses probably won’t do the trick. What will it take to get the “climate zombies” in Congress and the media to wake up to the gravest threat our species has yet faced? We’ll probably remain mired in collective inaction until the fossil fuel industry recognizes that species survival is more profitable than extinction. In the meantime, get out your handkerchiefs.

Warren Senders

Month 4, Day 18: More “Allergy” Stuff

U.S. News and World Report had a little squib about the same report referenced two days ago — all about how there were going to be a lot more allergens in the air, so allergy sufferers were going to be even more miserable than they usually are.

I shortened and revised my earlier letter, and used their dedicated submissions form to send it in.

It’s not just the eyes and noses of allergy sufferers that will be hit by global warming. Allergies and asthma are already huge loss factors almost everywhere in our economy: 12 billion dollars and 14 million school and work days to hay fever alone; $15 billion in medical costs and $5 billion in lost earnings a year to asthma. If, as scientists predict, climate change doubles or triples the level of ragweed allergens in our air, the economic effects are going to be disastrous.

On the other hand, antihistamine manufacturers will be excellent investment opportunities; we’ll be able to sneeze all the way to the bank.

All joking aside, this is just one tiny aspect of the most serious threat humanity has ever faced. We must take strong action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or it’s going to hurt a lot more than our noses.

Warren Senders