The growing season is getting longer, thanks to global warming. That means farmers can plant crops a little earlier, and the harvest may last a little longer.
But it also means pollen, and the allergic sneezing and wheezing that accompanies pollen, is part of American life for a longer period of time every year, as the Union of Concerned Scientists reminds us. Not only is the allergy season longer, but some plants are producing more pollen, and summer air quality is likely to decline as hotter temperatures contribute to more lung-damaging ozone and smog.
One in eight Americans has allergies, and one in 12 has asthma, which can be exacerbated by both air pollution and allergens.
"No question, global warming threatens public health," climate scientist Brenda Ekwurzel, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in a press release. "It isn't just happening at the poles; it's already affecting us in North America. And how much worse it will get will depend on the choices we make today."
Compared to 30 years ago, spring weather is arriving about a week and a half earlier a phenomenon memorably labeled "season creep." Further, carbon dioxide released by burning fossil fuels accelerates the growth of many plants, including pollen-producing notables like ragweed and loblolly pines. (Research suggests that poison ivy is also getting nastier because of carbon dioxide.)
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