When Pollen Attacks

Photo by mcfarlandmo, <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcfarlandmo/4014611539/">via Flickr</a>.

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I woke up to find my bike coated in thick mustard-yellow pollen this morning. That was gross, but not nearly as annoying at the sniffling, sneezing, itchy eyes, wheezing, and coughing that regularly accompanies the dawn of spring for me and approximately 25 million other Americans. And it’s only getting worse, thanks to the warming planet.

From a new report by the scientists over at National Wildlife Federation:

Ragweed—the primary allergen trigger of fall hay fever—grows faster, produces more pollen per plant, and has higher allergenic content under increased carbon dioxide levels. Longer growing seasons under a warmer climate allow for bigger ragweed plants that produce more pollen later into the fall. Springtime allergies to tree pollens also could get worse. Warmer temperatures could allow significant expansion of the habitat suitable for oaks and hickories, which are two highly allergenic tree species. Changing climate conditions may even affect the amount of fungal allergens in the air.

It’s hard to predict exactly how much worse it can get, but spring is already arriving 10 to 14 days earlier than it did 20 years ago, meaning the pollen starts flying earlier. And don’t expect things to get better at the other end of the year. Ragweed, a fall pollen that affects about 75 percent of people who suffer from hay fever, is projected to increase by 60 to 100 percent by around 2085 if fossil fuel emissions continue at current rates.

In addition to making my life more miserable, allergies and allergy-induced asthma are a major economic burden for the US: $32 billion every year in direct health care costs and lost productivity. I’ll have more on this in piece for our new collaboration, The Climate Desk, soon.

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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