It’s that time of year again. The morning weather report includes a pollen forecast (today we’ll have moderate pollen levels from poplars, junipers, and alders in the Boston area) and I have started a daily regimen of antihistamines with breakfast.
I’m thinking of buying stock in over-the-counter allergy medications as the growing season is ever increasing and pollen counts have been rising, increasing by 32% from 1900 to 2000. By 2060 we are predicted to see 62% higher pollen concentrations than we had in 2000 (https://www.climatecentral.org/gallery/graphics/more-co2-more-pollen, see graph below)!
I believe that a lot of the inertia we see in the public for taking personal actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is due to the fact that most people view climate change as something that will affect the future or affect far away places. They don’t understand that climate change is happening now and it’s changing the course of nature everywhere. And nature affects all of us which is very evident during growing season months when a majority of the public has itchy eyes and runny noses. I go through many more tissue boxes in the spring in my classroom than I do through the winter.
The media focuses (rightly) on the “big” stuff around climate change (hurricane intensity, drought, fires, sea level rise) but misses on the less obvious stuff like increasing pollen counts. The message needs to get out there that everyday life is affected by climate change. Then I think people will start to shift from apathy to action.