USA Today and other media outlets are sounding the alarm today about a new alarmist paper claiming global warming is causing a lengthier pollen season, making allergies worse. In reality, a longer pollen season is merely a reflection – and a result – of a longer and more productive growing season for plant life. While more plant life may bring a negative side effect for people with allergies, it is silly to claim that more plant life is an overall negative development. Instead, more plant life is a clear benefit – not harm – of climate change.

The USA Today article is titled, “Nothing to sneeze at: Climate change has worsened, lengthened pollen season across the US.” Other media outlets paint similarly alarming pictures, with article titles such as, “How Climate Change Is Making Allergy Season Worse.” The media articles are in response to a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences titled, “Anthropogenic climate change is worsening North American pollen seasons.”

The main finding of the paper is, “We measure pollen trends across North America from 1990 to 2018 and find increases in pollen concentrations and longer pollen seasons.” The article claims an earlier onset of spring, a longer autumn, and more productive plant growth in between results in more pollen which aggravates allergies. The article claims this is harmful to human health because some people miss school, miss work, and experience respiratory symptoms from pollen-related allergies.

That all may be true, but that is a relatively small negative consequence compared to the large environmental and human health benefits of longer warmth and more productive growing seasons. People generally go outside more and exercise more in warmer weather, which bring obvious health benefits. Also, scientists have documented that the number of people who die from cold temperatures is 20 times higher than the number who die from warm or hot temperatures. Moreover, objective mortality data show death rates go up in the cold winter months and come down when the weather gets warmer.

Just as importantly, plants are good for the environment and the biosphere, not bad. According to the logic of climate activists, it would be better if plant life struggled, crop production fell, and more land were barren because that would lower pollen. Such a perspective is clearly wrongheaded.

Yes, more abundant plant life brings more pollen, but that does not mean more plant life and more opportunities for people to go outdoors and exercise bring net-negative health and environmental impacts. Only climate alarmists make such foolish arguments.

James Taylor is the President of the Heartland Institute. Taylor is also director of Heartland's Arthur B. Robinson Center for Climate and Environmental Policy. Taylor is the former managing editor (2001-2014) of Environment & Climate News, a national monthly publication devoted to sound science and free-market environmentalism.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here