Monday, August 25, 2008

Is global warming making my eyes itch?

I'd say I'm about as environmentally conscious as your average person, or maybe slightly more so. I try to avoid driving my car when I can walk, bike, or bus, and I stick to organic produce as much as my budget will allow. Additionally, reports of northward migrating insect vectors and their tropical diseases have me a little worried. Today, however, may be the last straw. I think global warming gave me allergies.

Before last year I had never experienced the joy that is itchy eyes, nose, and throat, combined with the non-stop sneezing that seems to tear out the back of the throat and sinuses. As much as I tried not to judge, I considered allergy suffers to deserve sympathy, but often asked myself how horrible could it be when it was a little plant causing the whole problem? Well, last year I discovered that it could, in fact, be quite bad. When I couldn't stop itching my eyes last August, I went online to investigate. I discovered that the timing of my eye-itching corresponded directly with when some grasses were releasing their pollen. I felt some remorse for having laughed at a friends grass allergy at one point...

This year, things seem to have gotten worse. Yesterday I was unable to stop sneezing, and I thought my eyes might swell shut from all of the sneezing, watering, and itching in which they engaged. As I did last year, I went to the drug store, bought some newly-available over-the-counter allergy medicine, and went home. I seem to have forgotten just how awful the stuff is, however. Aside from feeling vaguely out of it, as though there were a veil and a sound barrier of some kind around my head, I'm also dehydrated to a degree I can't describe. I've used almost an entire tube of chapstick for my dried out lips, and other little tub for my raw nose.

Recognizing that you may not wish to read my whining, I will get to the point. I heard a news story on Michigan Radio the other day about increasing levels of pollen due to global warming. I can't find the transcript, but it was similar to this article in content. The reporter interviewed someone who had looked into yellow-jacket stings, and found that numbers of people seeking treatment for stings had increased astronomically over the past few years. Additionally, he reported that allergy sufferers everywhere have had progressively worse and worse allergy seasons ovver the past few years. Apparently the warming climate favors the ragweed, and other weeds that are common allergens. The larger plants are able to release more pollen, making allergies not only worse, but more common as more people¿s thresholds are reached. This is terrifying. The ragweed is taking over the world.

I'm not too sure just how to fight back, as my 10 mg of loratidine doesn't seem to quite be doing the trick. Somehow, however, I must triumph over over the weeds. At this point, I can only hope that global warming will accelerate quickly and send us into another ice age, killing the stupid plants and (perhaps?) saving all of humanity. If you can retain any hope at all, however, then I urge you to attempt to combat the plants, and drive less, recycle more, cut down on consumption, and make decisions that will save our (pollen-free) home. If you don't have allergies yourself, then at least do it to cut down on the number of mind-numbing conversations you have with people on allergy medications who haven't figured out how to appropriately dose themselves. Please, do it for us all.

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