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

26 Apr 2012, 11:45pm

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  • Surely Jesus is hypoallergenic?

    Seen on a Facebook status update:

    I’m wondering if any of my pastor colleagues have some suggestions for serving the Eucharist to the gluten intolerant members of the church?

    Am I the only one who finds this funny?

    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

    Year 2, Month 3, Day 3: A Cashew? A Tissue? A Fichu?

    The Sonoma County Press-Democrat reprints a story from the LA times on the likelihood of an increase in asthma from global warming (hotter, wetter weather equals more pollenaceous plants).

    Sent February 22:

    A person racked by sneezes and coughs, eyes and nose streaming, is a convenient figure of fun for those who don’t suffer from allergies. Global climate change’s effect on the atmospheric pollen count has similar humorous potential — as long as we avoid looking at the ways in which all of us are affected. And it’s not just asthma and allergies. As planetary warming changes our environment in unpredictable ways over the next decades, we can anticipate some of its effects: hotter temperatures will help spread tropical diseases; unpredictable and extreme weather may destroy local infrastructure (impassable roads, unsafe drinking water, rolling blackouts); agriculture will suffer (and food will get more expensive). Any of these by itself is a mere inconvenience. Collectively they are the localized face of a threat that’s planetary in scope, existential in nature. Environmentalists seek to limit the damage; Republican politicians, by contrast, are investing heavily in antihistamines.

    Warren Senders

    The title references Ogden Nash’s poem “Allergy in a Country Churchyard.”

    Month 4, Day 16: Aaaaaaahhhh-choooo!

    A Siegel is a prolific writer on climate issues at Kos. Yesterday’s piece was about the impact of climate change on pollen levels, and hence the future of allergic reactions….kind of scary.

    Sent to my local paper, the Medford Transcript.

    The effects of global warming are no longer abstract. You’re going to be feeling them in your nose. Increased CO2 levels are projected to boost pollen production enormously over the coming decades, according to a National Wildlife Federation study released yesterday. A doubling or tripling of ragweed allergens in the United States is going to have huge economic impacts. We already lose around $12 billion dollars a year to hay fever suffering; we lose over 14 million school and work days, over $15 billion in medical costs and over $5 billion in lost earnings a year to asthma. What will the Global Warming multiplier be?

    But wait! There’s more! Fungal production will probably quadruple with doubled CO2 levels; tree pollen levels are expected to increase drastically — and did I mention that poison ivy will be faster-growing and more virulent?

    But it’s not all bad news. Investing in pharmaceutical companies should be a winning strategy. As asthma and allergies debilitate huge segments of the population, we can sneeze all the way to the bank.

    Warren Senders