Allergies on the Rise From Climate Change

If you are sensitive to pollen, the changing climate is doing you a disservice. In a recent study, there was a clear association between increases in pollen and increases in carbon dioxide. I know I’ve been sniffing a little more than usual and that is probably directly related to our changing climate.

As carbon dioxide continues to rise worldwide and in the Great Lakes. Rising temperatures lead to a longer growing season. A growing season is usually between the last freeze in winter / spring and the first hard freeze in autumn.

The extended growing season is good news for those of you who work in the agriculture field in Northern Michigan.

Longer growing season in 2021

While this news is good for some, the early growing season often starts in April as the earlier spring weather and temperatures are well above average, followed by freezing temperatures. Meteorologists call this a hard frost. This can also be done late in the fall. Meteorologists began tracking this data in 1970. Since scientists began collecting data, the number of days in a growing season in Traverse City has increased by 19 days.

The dark green line shows data from the past (number of days in a growing season). The yellow line is the trend line from 1970 to 2020. The number of days in a growing season increases significantly.

A longer growing season also means a longer allergy season.

Increase in pollen in 2021

The dark green bars stand for “more emissions” or the worst-case scenario.

The light green bars stand for “aggressive cuts” or an aggressive reduction in CO2 emissions. This is the best scenario.

Note that we are seeing grass pollen production just over 1.0 unit in 2020. Pollen production is likely to more than double by 2080, and why this might not be a problem for you, it will be for your children and grandchildren. There is a clear upward trend in pollen levels associated with higher levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in your atmosphere.

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