The Conversation: Future hay fever seasons will be worse thanks to climate change

“It’s now late spring, with summer just around the corner, and many people with hay fever suffer at this time of year in Australia. Although the cause of this suffering is invisible to us, it is actually all around us — plant pollen floating in the air.

The 500 million people in the world who suffer from allergies may be alarmed to learn that the major global outdoor allergen, grass pollen, is likely to significantly increase with climate change. In fact the latest research from the US shows that if there’s twice as much CO2 in the atmosphere there could be three times as much grass pollen allergen in the air.

Plants are sensitive to the climate. Rain provides them with water, and the seasonal changes in temperature lead to flowering. Plants are also sensitive to the different gases in the air that surrounds them. One of these gases is carbon dioxide, the same gas that our activities are increasing as each year goes by.

Climate change, especially the gradual increase in the global air temperature, and the increase in carbon dioxide, are causing changes in the pollen that we breathe. The pollen season is changing, starting earlier and going for longer. There is also more pollen in the air than there used to be.”

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