Achoo! Killer AGW pollen attacks

On the plus side, they mention in the press release that CO2 boosts plant growth.

A look at tomorrow’s climate:

Pollen levels are rising across Europe

Bild: istockphoto

16.04.2012, Press releases

From Reykjavik to Thessaloniki, pollen levels are on the increase. A team of researchers headed by Prof. Annette Menzel at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen reports that pollen counts have already risen across Europe in recent years. Their findings are based on an analysis of pollen time series in 13 countries (PLoS ONE). This trend is more pronounced in urban areas, where pollen counts are rising by an average of around three percent per year compared with one percent per year in rural areas. And the scientists believe that climate change will strengthen this trend.

When trees and plants release their pollen, millions of hay fever sufferers are affected by sneezing fits and itchy, watery eyes. Today in Germany, roughly every fourth person suffers from allergies – and this figure is set to rise. Climate change is seen as one of the factors fuelling the increase in allergic responses. Lab experiments and a small number of open-air studies have shown that increased concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air can boost plant growth and subsequently pollen production. Warmer temperatures and invasive species are also leading to longer pollen seasons.

An international team of researchers headed by ecoclimatologist Prof. Annette Menzel at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) has revealed just how much the pollen burden has increased across Europe.

The team of scientists evaluated 1,221 long-term pollen series from thirteen different countries, calculating normalized trends of annual pollen indices over a period of at least ten years. These indices can now be used to compare different key allergenic pollen species from different climates.

The researchers found that the concentration of airborne pollens has risen particularly sharply in cities in recent years. In urban areas across Europe, pollen concentration has risen by an average of three percent per year. In rural areas, they recorded a rise of one percent per annum. An increase in CO2 concentration is the most probable cause for the rise in pollen levels.

Prof. Menzel believes that allergy sufferers from Reykjavik to Thessaloniki will be exposed to even higher pollen levels in the future. “Even today, cities are warmer, dryer and more polluted places,” explains Prof. Menzel. The ecoclimatologist is therefore using urban areas as a testbed for developing more accurate predictions about the effects of climate change. Temperatures in dense, urban environments, known as heat islands, can be one to three degrees higher than the surrounding areas. Levels of CO2 and pollutants are also often higher in these environments. Ozone values, however, are usually higher in the regions surrounding larger cities. But this does not give the all-clear for rural areas, as the climatologist explains: “The conditions we are recording in urban environments today are expected to spread to rural areas in the future.”

Pollen, however, is only a carrier of allergens, making pollen count just one factor in the prediction of future allergy trends. Prof. Menzel is therefore working with allergologist Prof. Claudia Traidl-Hoffmann from the Center of Allergy and Environment (ZAUM) (TUM / German Research Center for Environmental Health) to research allergy trends in urban and rural areas. Their investigations have revealed that levels of allergens vary from year to year and that pollen counts also differ in rural and urban areas. More detailed research results will soon be available. What the scientists do already know, however, is that city dwellers will not be the only ones suffering from future climate trends.

Background:
The research took place within the framework of the Global Change focus group at the Institute for Advanced Study of the Technische Universitaet Muenchen.
www.tum-ias.de

Publication:
C. Ziello, T.H. Sparks, N. Estrella, J. Belmonte, K.C. Bergmann, E. Bucher, M.A. Brighetti, A. Damialis, M. Detandt, C. Galan, R. Gehrig, L. Grewling, A.M. Gutierrez Bustillo, M. Hallsdottir, M.-C. Kockhans-Bieda, C. De Linares, D. Myszkowska, A. Paldy, A. Sanchez, M. Smith, M. Thibaudon, A. Travaglini, A. Uruska, R.M. Valencia-Barrera, D. Vokou, R. Wachter, L.A. de Weger, A. Menzel (2012): Changes to airborne pollen counts across Europe, PLoS ONE
http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0034076

Contact:
Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Prof. Annette Menzel Chair of Ecoclimatology
Phone: 08161 714740
Email: amenzel@wzw.tum.de
http://www.oekoklimatologie.wzw.tum.de

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101 thoughts on “Achoo! Killer AGW pollen attacks

  1. Those folks should come to the Southern US during the spring pine pollen season and watch everything turn yellow-green. I don’t think they would notice other pollen quite as much.

  2. Perchance, urban sprawl couldn’t explain the disparity between Urban and Rural findings?

    Those Townies do love their flower gardens – especially in Europe

    Andi

  3. Pollen, however, is only a carrier of allergens…

    Huh. So all the pharma researchers who refer to pollen as an allergen (rather than merely a carrier of allergens) are wrong?

  4. Ah guten tag Frau Professor. I have just noticed that there is a lot of lime scale in my kettle and wondered whether you have some explanation.
    Bitte, of course silly me, it’s caused by climate change.
    What? Do I vish to surrender to the cause?
    Nein danke. Not yet!

  5. Depending, of course, on your definition of ‘recent’ this study might be a little missleading since temps haven’t been rising over the past ten years or so. Maybe they should be identifying what these people are reacting to rather than just make assumptions.

  6. I thought warming has plateaued over the last ten years or so. Maybe these researchers should first determine what is really causing the allergies.

  7. This is hillarious!

    What exactly is “the pollen burden”? Is this the fraction of pollen transported by bees globally?

    I wonder if this research has accounted for the following
    1. There are more people living in ctiies now ever before.Perhaps they are growing more plants in their inner city gardens?

    2.There has been, in theUK at least, campaigns to get people growing their own produce in towns and cities – thta alos measn more plants, as well as more green initiative to plant trees in teh city and many office building in London now have rooftop gardens complete with beehives.

    They will be suggesting pollen quotas next.

    Science has come to a ridiculous and laughably sad state.

  8. Lab experiments and a small number of open-air studies have shown that increased concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air can boost plant growth and subsequently pollen production.

    I have read of numerous people stating, both in WUWT and elsewhere, that it is normal practice to increase CO2 in order to increase plant growth – and these people need research monies to ‘prove’ this.

    Instead of seeing the increase in growth as a positive as a way to feed a hungry world, they see it as a negative of ‘global warming’.

    We’d best let Toyota and the UNEP know that they are creating a problem by planting even more trees (http://www.toyotafund.eu/news/pressreleases/unep.aspx – The Toyota Fund for Europe (TFfE) – with support from NGO partners and Toyota companies – will plant 1.2 million trees in Europe by the end of next year as part of UNEP’s Billion Tree Campaign.)

    Think of the children and grandchildren, etc, etc.

  9. They are tinkering with the Arctic Ice Data over at NSIDC. Apparently, the data needsa to be massaged…….I mean adjusted……….or made better or something.

  10. This is really hilarious, now thriving plants is portrayed as “city dwellers” “suffering from future climate trends”. The logical consequence of this would be to wish for a new glaciation of most of Europe, and Arctic tundra replacing the (allergen-producing!) olive groves of the mediterranean countries.

    But of course the whole point is just to get a share of the Climate Research Money.

  11. g2-b369c06850afa63886091a1f0601abd5 says:
    April 18, 2012 at 12:27 am
    “I thought warming has plateaued over the last ten years or so. Maybe these researchers should first determine what is really causing the allergies.”

    Prof. Annette Menzel mentions an increasing CO2 level as well as expected future increase in warm growing season as conflation of reasons for more plant growth productivity and pollen production, and she also drags UHI into the mix, so she’s safe… at least two of those will continue.

    So she’s only dragging in CAGW to be safe on the fund-seeking side.

    Warmist journalists in Germany, starving from a dearth of CAGW news, happily reported about this otherwise unremarkable finding.

  12. So are the city plants growing bigger and better because of CO2 fertilisation, like every other plant on the planet? Or is it down to Urban Heat Island Effect? Or is it both?

  13. Once we shut down the ridiculous AGW claims it will be possible to look objectively at the real effects of increasing CO2. Where I live in the Blue Mountains of NSW, for instance, there has been a massive increase in burnable biomass in the surrounding bush, making the prospect of the next bushfire season far more terrifying. And this may be similar — a genuine phenomenon, but wrongly attributed.

  14. I guess that if they put ‘global warming’ in the grant proposal (which seems to be the surefire method of getting funding, then it’s only courteous to mention it in the final paper.

    That’s a key failing of a monopsomy — only one buyer (government) but multiple sellers.

  15. marchesarosa,

    This article. talks about ozone, but they’re really referring to CO2. Thay just can’t admit it.

    . . .

    DirkH says:

    “g2-b369c06850afa63886091a1f0601abd5…”

    Easy for you to say☺

  16. Regarding rise in allergies, what I blame is the civilisation. Back in medieval times, allergic people died very young due to their problems. Nowadays, allergy stopped being negative evolutionary factor as allergic people get medical treatment. So it’s on the rise until it starts being evolutionary limitation again. Not our environment, but the fact that we have medical treatment for them is making allergies worse and more common.

  17. So. It’s warm earlier then usual, whatever usual is, and more plants are spreading more pollen? And this is a screw-up because???

    Plus I thought that more flora made for a more healthy and beneficial enviroment for all life??
    Am I missing something???

    And as far as more allergies goes,that’s just our helicopter parent world, and trying to make everything sterile for the “kiddies” to save them, that is actually harming them. As any “old”-timer here knows full well, the more you are exposed to the germs and viruses of everyday life at a young age, the more your immune system can develop and ward them off. We are turning the kids of NA today into the Natives of NA 300 years ago, where a harmless germ/virus to the Europeans wiped out millions of never before exposed natives.

  18. @g2-b369c06850afa63886091a1f0601abd5

    Depending, of course, on your definition of ‘recent’ this study might be a little missleading since temps haven’t been rising over the past ten years or so…

    Of course they have! The pollen must be a proxy, auto-connected to the temperature. I suspect that all the missing heat has gone into making the pollen… Let me see if I can find a hockey-stick in there….

    /sarc off

  19. Greg Scott says:
    April 18, 2012 at 12:07 am

    I’m worried AGW will fade the curtains!

    Sorry, daylight savings already does that…

    Seriously though. Twenty eight authors for this one paper!

    Their institute must have an ‘every child gets a prize’ publication authorship policy.

  20. I wonder if they even realize where food comes from.

    Oh, of course they do. All food comes from the shops. /sarc

  21. I hate to destroy their theory, but it is obvious this has nothing to do with “global warming/climate disruption/climate change” (TM).
    The fact that the numbers are higher in urban area is the obvious indication this has to do with humans planting more trees and flowers in their environment.
    The environmental conscience and the realization that plants are beneficial to life within the cities leads to more and more green areas in them, hence higher pollen rate.

  22. I have suffered from Hay fever for 50 years, the killer pollen years are the wet springs which increases plant growth followed by a summer with one hot dry spell which the plants use to drop their large reserve of pollen. In a hotter world without the wet spring there will be no record pollen releases.

  23. “Even today, cities are warmer, dryer and more polluted places,” explains Prof. Menzel

    So London say is more polluted now than in Victorian days, or during the 50′s? It really makes you wonder what planet some people live on.

  24. Why only such a short & therefore inconclusive timeframe? If 30 years is the minimum yardstick by which to beat us all, what is 10 years all about? Spit in the ocean!

  25. Since UHI is consensually negligible, the pollen difference must be because of something else, not CO2.
    ARRGH back to the drawing board.

  26. Hey, don’t mock it! “The research took place within the framework of the Global Change focus group at the Institute for Advanced Study of the Technische Universitaet Muenchen.”, not a sub group of the Global Change focus group, or a committee reporting to the Global Change focus group, but the actual Global Change focus group itself!

  27. “g2-b369c06850afa63886091a1f0601abd5 says:
    April 18, 2012 at 12:24 am

    Depending, of course, on your definition of ‘recent’ this study might be a little missleading since temps haven’t been rising over the past ten years or so. Maybe they should be identifying what these people are reacting to rather than just make assumptions.”

    Hansen says the warming will begin again in the next 3-5 years:

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/2011/

    “Has Global Warming Slowed in the Past Decade?

    Figure 7 helps us examine the issue of whether global warming has “stopped” in the past decade or at least slowed down from the rate of the prior two decades. Global temperature in 2011 was lower than in 1998. However, global temperature has a strong interannual variability tied to the Southern Oscillation (El Niño-La Niña cycle), as is apparent in Fig. 7.”

    “Summary

    2011 was only the ninth warmest year in the GISS analysis of global temperature change, yet nine of the ten warmest years in the instrumental record (since 1880) have occurred in the 21st century. The past year has been cooled by a moderately strong La Niña. The 5-year (60-month) running mean global temperature hints at a slowdown in the global warming rate during the past few years. However, the cool La Niña phase of the cyclically variable Southern Oscillation of tropical temperatures has been dominant in the past three years, and the deepest solar minimum in the period of satellite data occurred over the past half dozen years. We conclude that the slowdown of warming is likely to prove illusory, with more rapid warming appearing over the next few years.”

  28. Lab experiments and limited field studies on erectile dysfunction in squirrels *may* be linked to increased CO2. If this trend continues there will a catastrophic decline in squirrels by 2350, a recent study says.

    The Professor “believes” his results show that ……

    Grant sniffers.

  29. Cities MORE polluted now?!!! We haven’t burned a river in decades. I haven’t seen a brown sky in decades (except for a mud storm in Saudi once – freaky sandstorm+thunderstorm) So no! I would say I can falsify that claim by personal experience. These watermelons don’t know what they are talking about.

  30. “Their findings are based on an analysis of pollen time series in 13 countries (PLoS ONE). This trend is more pronounced in urban areas, where pollen counts are rising by an average of around three percent per year compared with one percent per year in rural areas.”
    Is this more evidence of UHI?

    Reminds me of the paper a few years ago that said global warming (increased atmospheric CO2) was causing an increase in poison ivy. No mention of it also increasing the grain harvest.

    All the (bad) news that’s fit to print.

  31. The article speaks only of the increases in concentration (3% urban, 1% rural) but does not give the actual concentrations for the two areas. So we don’t know which has the highest concentrations. If pollen count in rural areas is higher but there are fewer allergy sufferers, then increased pollen counts may not, as predicted, lead to an increase in sufferers.
    Some studies have shown that 9 out of 10 hay fever sufferers are allergic to grass pollen. It may be that local councils, in order to save money, are mowing less frequently resulting in more grasses flowering than previously when mowing was done more often.

  32. This is because farmers are growing the same crops at the same time! We are surrounded by rape crops here in East Yorkshire, in fact most of the UK, and obviously every field grows at the same rate and produces pollen at the same time, this didn’t use to happen when different crops were grown next to each other as different crops flowered at different times! It’s not rocket science, doh!

  33. Bee poplulations have been declining for decades in Europe, recently attributed to difficult overwintering conditions in combination with the Varroa destructor parasitic mite. Although bees mainly harvest nectar, their pollen harvest may impact the amount of pollen in the atmosphere. I wonder if the researchers in this study considered this.

    I imagine bee populations in cities would be greatly reduced too due to the sparcity of commercial or wild beehives.

    Perhaps a couple of the huge team of researchers on this project may have had the time to look into declining bee populations and the effect bees have on pollen counts in the atmosphere.

    But then, I am just an uneducated cherry farmer – what would I know?

  34. Surprising that they used actual data and not a computer model. Is there a tipping point where we’ll have irreversible runaway pollen burden? Are pollen deniers in the pay of Big Pollen?

    Paul Mackey says:April 18, 2012 at 12:42 am
    “… and cities – thta alos measn more plants …”

    Those watery eyes make it hard to see the keyboard, don’t they?

  35. The claim that cities today are “more polluted places” must surely be indefensible. At least in Europe, after decades of ever tighter emissions control, combined with the decline and displacement of heavy industries associated with pollution.

    That pollen counts are increasing faster in urban areas, compared to rural, is interesting. Is that perhaps a measure of the “greening” of cities? Or are there other more influential factors.
    The study attributes this to CO2 increase, but then why would there be a “sudden” increase in urban pollen counts over the last few years? Pollen is airborne, what account did they take of wind patterns over the past decade?

    Are cities really “drier” than in the past? Anyone have data on comparative precipitation in European cities handy? I would be surprised to find Urban areas are drier.

    Have they done any comparisons on the ratio of allergy sufferers in urban versus rural, or city versus suburb?

  36. Looks like They`re running out of bad things to blame CO2 for so they`re being good little watermelons and recycling the scares , “allergies worse” is already on the list .

    http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/warmlist.htm

    I`m hoping They`ll run through the scares alphabetically this time `cos “Alligators in the Thames” would be the next one . :o)

  37. …the climatologist explains: “The conditions we are recording in urban environments today are expected to spread to rural areas in the future.”

    In other words it’s contagious like just like murders, robberies, hard drugs, school dropouts, single mothers on welfare, etc.

  38. Very little to with climate change. I thought it was green chic to have rooftop and balcony gardens, aka, Local Urban Pollen Islands, to replace growing flowers and vegetables in traditional green houses and farms. Lots of honey also being produced in urban areas all over Europe in the last decade. A rooftop flower garden in the right wind conditions is many times more potent to allergy sufferers than the same at ground level.

  39. It’s pretty simple (at least to me) that the severity of allergies and others can be traced to widespread vitamin D deficiency as we come out of winter. Your body converts vitamin D into a powerful steroid that acts as genetic regulator that people don’t know much about these days. We’re just finding out what this amazing “vitamin” can do. It’s funny how Superman gets his strength from the sun because it’s how it actually works with humans. Believe it or not, sun scare is as bad as CO2 causing CAWG… http://www.vitamindsportsbook.com/ – I think it’s a good book to get anyone started if they want to learn more about vitamin D or simply visit http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/.

    Anyways, for a long time, I’ve suffered sinus infection brought on by cold/allergies every winter which seemed to take a long time to recover. A few years ago, I heard about vitamin D so I tried it out. It actually worked to my amazement because I tried everything to prevent that annoying illness in the past. The current recommendation for vitamin D is pretty low (600 IU a day/ a cup of milk contains only 100 IU of vitamin D) while vitamin D experts recommend at least 4000 IU a day for adults.

    http://blog.vitamindcouncil.org/2012/03/22/randomized-controlled-trial-shows-link-between-vitamin-d-and-allergic-rhinitis/

  40. OT, but clicking that link to the self-declared “progressive” running for Congress is a great way to send click money to this blog. Listening to the audio part of that link is a great way to hear an example of why certain people should notbe in politics, if the photo in the link is not enough.

  41. I’m sure I read that inctreases in susceptibility to allergies has been strongly linked to cleaner homes and lifestyle changes that reduce exposure to things through which we would normally build immunities.
    The rate of increase in atmospheric CO2 is not 1% per year.

  42. Mike Jowsey says:
    April 18, 2012 at 4:03 am
    That was my immediate reaction at the top of the page.
    Bursting as I was with self importance and ready to impart that pearl of wisdom to all assembled here, you can imagine my consternation on finding your post as I neared the Leave a Reply box at the bottom!
    If the bee population crash is in fact as bad as reported, then it is reasonable to suppose that the profound reduction in young bees would result in a noticeable surfeit of their staple food, namely pollen.
    Halfwits – all of them!

  43. I’m doing my best to increase urban pollen count. Besides an extensive garden, there’s about a 10′x10′ patch of Dutch Clover left unmowed and going to seed in the back yard. There are so many butterflies and honey bees, etc. in the patch, at times, that they can’t be counted.
    Honey bees are content to go about their business, but the butterflies seem to be quite territorial and fuss at each other incessantly.

    The honey bees had all but disappeared around here until last year, when they began to reappear in the gardens. Now, they seem as prevalent as always. i can only speculate about their decline/resurgence.

  44. This is a direct response to the “urban-greening” projects going on since most air-borne pollen is tree and grass pollen. Most flowers are insect pollinated and so little pollen gets into the air. When we had flower beds and lawns were manicured (meaning cut regularly) there was much less grass pollen.

    At least we can say that this is “anthropogenic” – humans have certainly caused this!

  45. If pollen is a pollutant, does that mean they’ll start taxing gardens and anyone who plants something that produces pollen? Might the EPA impose a cap on pollen production and set fines for exceeding it?

  46. Increases in reported allergies are just that – reported and nearly all self-reported. True allergy rates remain around 1-3%of the population, while self-reported allergy rates are up to 50% (well, parents reporting child allergies anyway).

    The conspiracy theorist in me sees this rise coming around the same time as many allergy medicines became available over the counter and thus no need to go and see a doctor to get access to them.

  47. Sshhh….. Don’t tell the EPA or they’ll make a determination that pollen is a pollutant. Pollen recapture, anyone? /s

  48. Kudos to “Prof. Menzel”. A direct relationship between “global warming”, pharmaceuticals, “people feeling miserable”, and “government funding”. A very impressive accomplishment!!!

    /sarc

  49. marchesarosa says:
    April 18, 2012 at 1:25 am

    So are the city plants growing bigger and better because of CO2 fertilisation, like every other plant on the planet? Or is it down to Urban Heat Island Effect? Or is it both?

    It seems to me that at least two other causes needs to be considered, and those are quite possibly primary causes. One is the prohibition of herbicide use, and the other is the growing trend by city administrations to reduce and in some cases eliminate cutting of grass in parks, on boulevards and in road-side ditches.

    Both of those policy changes cause the proliferation of weeds in European cities, especially in Germany. It should be noted that the policy changes were initially a result of pressure by greenies, but are now more a question of priorities in budgeting and lack of necessary finances.

    There is a third cause of interest, especially in Germany, the planting of trees. Not only the pollen of weeds such as ragweed cause allergic reactions known as hay fever, but the pollen of certain trees does so as well.

    Anemophilous spring blooming plants such as oak, birch, hickory, pecan, and early summer grasses may also induce pollen allergies.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pollen#Hay_fever

    A simple pollen count will not provide insights into any of that. The pollen collected would have to be analyzed over the years to determine which type of plants, trees or grasses produced it, to determine which specific types of pollen increased over time.

    I believe that trends in the volume of a specific variety of pollen collected would more likely point to the consequences of horticultural practices in cities than to rising atmospheric CO2 levels.

  50. Last year, here in the San Francisco Bay area, we suffered through a severe spring pollen season. The greatest pollen load was coming from trees that were responding to an abundance of rain. It seems that trees are not as likely to attempt propagation when there is insufficient water to actually produce offspring, but look out when the water is available. Kind of like sailors going on shore leave? Since the type of pollen was not discussed in the article, could it possibly be that the alleged researchers are actually measuring a tree response to the wetter conditions across Europe over the past few years? Wasn’t it only two years ago that we were reading about and watching the ‘unprecedented’ flooding in Europe? Just might be that the trees liked it…and produced more pollen? Who’d a thunk it?

  51. Rob Potter says:
    April 18, 2012 at 6:06 am

    This is a direct response to the “urban-greening” projects going on since most air-borne pollen is tree and grass pollen….

    Sorry for not reading all of the comments first before I posted my long reply.

    Rob, you are exactly right! Unfortunately, such a reasonable explanation is not politically-correct and will not serve to create research funding.

  52. This is about the first warmist article I have read that is likely to be correct – Higher CO2 – More plant-life = More Biodiversity and a healthier world.

  53. Thats the trouble with all this alarm. CO2 is causing more pollen, precisely because the biosphere is being enriched. The jury is still out for the long term on how big or small the impact of CO2 is on temperature, but there is no reasonable argument against the beneficial effects of CO2 on plants and plants provide food and cover for critters. Maybe coal fired utilities should get a green badge and a Nobel Prize if this much depreciated honour is still worth something.

  54. Lab experiments and a small number of open-air studies have shown that increased concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air can boost plant growth and subsequently pollen production.

    I knew this 40 years ago since my cousin, who was an agronomy major in college at the time, told me all about augmenting CO2 in greenhouses and problems with corn growth in Iowa on windless days due to lack of sufficient CO2.

    (By the way, this whole study is analagous to augmenting men with testosterone and then suddenly discovering that the birth rate went up–how odd!)

  55. Carrie says:

    April 18, 2012 at 3:59 am
    It’s not rocket science, doh!
    I’m afraid we may not be able to use that term much longer,Carrie,at least not in NA. After the last “flight” of the shuttle to its final display spot,the dumbimg down of our school kids,and the out-sourcing of future space flights so NASA can concentrate on eco-fraudulent science,we here in NA will be lucky if our weather guys/gals can even launch a weather ballon in a few years!

  56. Mike Jowsey says:
    April 18, 2012 at 4:03 am

    But then, I am just an uneducated cherry farmer – what would I know?

    Never misunderestimate the important role of cherry pickers in the realm of climate science.

  57. I’ve only read a portion of the comments, but no one (and especially not the study authors) seems to be paying any attention to the fact that urban areas all across the West have placed a huge emphasis in recent years on actually “greening” their environments: more parks, more trees, more grassy areas (such as between and along train tracks!!) more rooftop garden oases (such as on high rises)… Who is surprised that, when you intentionally increase the amount of vegetation, you increase the pollen count?

    I would venture that (1) the study authors did nothing to control for the volume of greenery and (2) the greenery trend explains 100% of the difference between the urban and rural pollen increases (3% vs. 1%). Explaining the 1% increase is harder – maybe some of that can be attributed to CO2, or maybe the causes are similar but since there are more trees to start, adding one here or there makes a lot less difference?

    But I bet explaining the +2% in urban areas is not hard. It is likely due to deliberate actions taken in the name of improving the living experience – actions which, by and large, I suspect everyone is “for” (depending on cost).

  58. “Climate change is seen as one of the factors fuelling the increase in allergic responses.”

    My BSometer scored 8.7 with this, as opposed to 9.85 (out of 10) with Mann’s Hockey Stick ‘science’.

    The solution, of course, is to stop all agriculture in Europe and let the forests take over again. There will be much less pollen then. A good shower of rain also helps clear pollen out of the air.

  59. John Trigge says:
    April 18, 2012 at 12:55 am
    ………….
    “We’d best let Toyota and the UNEP know that they are creating a problem by planting even more trees (http://www.toyotafund.eu/news/pressreleases/unep.aspx – The Toyota Fund for Europe (TFfE) – with support from NGO partners and Toyota companies – will plant 1.2 million trees in Europe by the end of next year as part of UNEP’s Billion Tree Campaign.)”
    ——–
    By the sound of things, the way plants are spreading their own seed, there may not be anywhere for Toyota to plant 1.2 million trees.

  60. So what is really being said here? ;-) Should we kill off all of the trees and plants or… Some how that doesn’t work for the environment… tonue in cheek of course

    Have a good day all!
    vince

  61. Hey she’s the 41st on the most “Most-Cited Female Authors on Climate Science” list.
    Her field of research is ecoclimatology.

    http://www.eecg.utoronto.ca/~prall/climate/female_authors_table.html

    #1 is Jane Lubchenco. Chief fabricator of Oregon’s AGW= Ocean “dead zones” that were then embellished to being “unprecedented, occurring every year, larger, lasting longer and at a tipping point” up until they miraculously vanished.
    Her “dead zones” were used along with her “ocean acidification” claims to lure funding and to needlessly create the 5 Oregon marine reserves.

    It was all a ruse and the dead zones are gone. The funding and marine reserves remain.

    Some day the “distinguished” Lubchenco, (that’s how she refers to herself) this will get a full expose.
    The dead zones have been replaced with a thriving and sustainable fishery.

    http://www.oregondungeness.org/sustainable.shtml

    Crab harvests from a healthy marine fisheries have soared. http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2011/08/oregon_coast_yields_second-ric.html

    But your tax dollars are monitoring the ocean in search of more death!

    http://www.coas.oregonstate.edu/index.cfm?fuseaction=content.search&searchtype=people&detail=1&id=383

    http://www.eurekalert.org/multimedia/msp/pub/18388.php

    and it’s all fun $$$$
    See here:

    http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/deadzones/

  62. Seriously, if CO2 is causing increased pollen shouldn’t that increase, at some level be global?

  63. There is an informative web page here . . .

    http://allergy.peds.arizona.edu/southwest/moving.html

    . . . and, among many other interesting things, suggests a connection between moving from a home-area to a new location with differing plants:

    Allergy to unique pollen types in the Southwest usually takes at least a year to develop. Allergy to the unique pollen can develop much faster if there is allergenic cross reactivity, i.e., similarity, between the unique Arizona pollen and a pollen type at the origin of the person moving …

    The “Southwest” being the dry SW of the USA, for example, Arizona. It is interesting that early in the last century folks would move to the SW from the eastern States to improve their quality of life in the dryer air. Anecdotal reports then came that they planted and maintained landscapes that contributed to their breathing problems.
    And, apparently there is some truth to this:

    Airborne pollen allergens in the Southwest are mainly, but not exclusively, from introduced species.

    Also, from the above:

    Allergy can develop for the first time because of contact with pollen unique to the area, often after a “honeymoon” period of 12-18 months

    So, maybe the bottom line is that moving won’t solve your problem but if you do move – don’t bring your flowers along.

    A very informative set of pages.

  64. There is much more to a sneeze than co2 and pollen. The women of Europe grow flowers any place available to them and they look great. The view they present is very pleasing. Pity the politician who would abolish flowers. Well he would not get much.

    The case for global warming should be proven before it becomes the cause of every natural problem, real and imagined, under the sun.

  65. How much money is being poured into “Ecoclimatology”? Like all the green money going into studying the psychology of “denier,” it is all to boost the propaganda for anti-CO2 alarmism. Our tax dollars at work.

    All of this violates the basic principle of republicanism: that the people are master and government the slave. Government should not be trying to tell people what to think, never mind by perpetrating a massive fraud.

  66. What I didn’t see mentioned is the anthropogenic component. My city plants, almost exclusively, males and most of them of fruit trees – don’t make fruit for the critters and don’t grow too big and bred to resist disease – almost perfect to beautify your city …….unless you are allergic to their pollen. Do the male trees know there are only a few females to compete for? If so, then they are under evolutionary pressure to produce more pollen. How smart is a cherry tree?

  67. “Their findings are based on an analysis of pollen time series in 13 countries (PLoS ONE). This trend is more pronounced in urban areas, where pollen counts are rising by an average of around three percent per year compared with one percent per year in rural areas. And the scientists believe that climate change will strengthen this trend.”

    So we have a new proxy to detect Urban Heat Island Effects? Or are efforts to green our cities working to add more plants or more pollen producing plants to the cities?

  68. “From Reykjavik to Thessaloniki, pollen levels are on the increase”
    I’m pretty sure that also happened LAST spring.

  69. re: “cities are warmer, dryer and more polluted places”

    Warmer, maybe. Heat islands are documented but it may have been an equal problem a hundred years ago. Dryer now that we don’t have horses urinating in the streets and open sewage flows, certainly. More polluted, demonstrably not. I’d still rather live in the woods than in any city but current cities are a marvel of sanitation and cleanliness compared prior years.

    A much more credible article published years ago by my local township Arborist attributed the increased pollen to the selection process used by city planners when choosing what kinds of trees to plant along the city streets. Apparently, they want to minimize fruit because it creates too much debris that has to be cleaned up by city workers. (“Fruit” in the biological sense, not in the grocery sense.) This leads to a decision to 1) avoid self-pollinating species and 2) to plant just one gender of tree. For reasons that I don’t fully remember, they tend to pick the male gender. This floods the area with pollen, not because of any change in climate or ecology but because of human choices to plant the trees that generate large amounts of pollen.

    Despite that, the increase in allergies is unexplained. Nothing in the model above nor in my Arborist’s theory explains the simultaneous increase in food allergies.

  70. re: the theory that fewer bees are available to harvest the pollen

    Sorry, that’s not possible. The vast majority of pollens to which humans are allergic are from wind-pollinated plants. That is, plants which bees don’t visit anyway. Plants which are bee-pollinated tend to produce fewer and much, much larger pollen granules. They can do this since the pollen is more efficiently delivered. Plants which evolved to a wind-driven strategy tend to produce very prolificly and very small granules. This includes all the grasses.

    As a simple example, we talk about ‘hay fever’ (a grass), never ‘apple fever’. That’s not to say that some few people can’t be allergic to apples but it is negligible compared to the allergies to grasses.

    As a useful rule of thumb (which means there are lots of exceptions), wind-pollinated plants tend to have green flowers. Red flowers are bird-pollinated. White, yellow and blue flowers are generally insect pollinated. And really stinky plants such as the Carrion Flower are fly-pollinated.

  71. re: “cities are warmer, dryer and more polluted places”

    Warmer, maybe. The heat island effect comparing urban to rural areas is well documented but I’m not aware of any credible records showing changes in the effect within an urban area as the structure of the city changes. Dryer I will concede with the happy note that we no longer have horses urinating in the streets, open sewage lines, etc. More polluted is demonstrably false. While I would still prefer a rural area to any city, modern cities are marvels of sanitation and cleanliness compared to the cities of old. My grandfather talked of taking two shirts to work in the steel-mill days because one would be too dirty to wear by lunchtime.

    A few years back, my local township Arborist wrote an article with a much more credible explanation for the increase in pollen. He described the process that modern city planners go through when selecting the trees which they will plant along the city streets. Unlike a hundred years ago when the trees were selected and planted by the shop-keeper, modern cities buy and plant their trees in bulk. In order to keep maintenance costs down, they avoid trees that fruit whenever possible. That means avoiding self-pollinators and selecting a single gender of whatever tree you decide on. For reasons that I don’t fully remember, they tend to pick male gendered trees. The increase in pollen, then, has nothing to do with climate, weather, heat or CO2 but is driven by the decision to plant trees that naturally produce high volumes of pollen.

    Despite that, neither my Arborist’s explanation nor the theory above explain the simultaneous increase in food allergies. Yes, allergies are increasing but this is not why.

  72. Apologies for the duplicate. I got a log-in error and thought the first comment was lost. Please feel free to retract the dupl.

  73. Carrie @ 3.59am:

    I was about to make a similar comment. We are surrounded here in North Yorkshire by fields and fields of oilseed rape. It has a strong sickly smell and makes me sneeze. It is often worse after rain, such as we’ve had in quantity today, when the moisture swells the pollen grains.

  74. RE: Yes, allergies are increasing but this is not why.

    Fewer people die from allergies prior to reaching reproductive age, genes propagate, full stop.

  75. Well, if humans cause global warming, then this would be a negative feedback, right?/snark

  76. Are cities really “drier” than in the past? Anyone have data on comparative precipitation in European cities handy? I would be surprised to find Urban areas are drier.

    Developed world cities are generally getting drier. The main cause is reduced urban aerosols resulting in less precipitation from aerosol seeded clouds.

    The same mechanism makes weekends drier than weekdays in cities.

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2009/2009GL039509.shtml

  77. dp says:
    April 18, 2012 at 7:41 am

    Mike Jowsey says:
    April 18, 2012 at 4:03 am

    But then, I am just an uneducated cherry farmer – what would I know?

    Never misunderestimate the important role of cherry pickers in the realm of climate science.
    ___________________________
    You get a gold star for that.

  78. Indeed, never misunderestimate the perseverence of climatologists; no matter how flimsy the data and science, they keep coming achoo!

  79. Pollen grains are efficient cloud condensation nuclei

    http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/5/4/044015/pdf/1748-9326_5_4_044015.pdf

    ……………………………………
    When the tree and grass pollen gets going- Does this mean more April showers, more rain in May, more clouds in June, and more thunderstorms in July? Looking forward to summer already!
    ………………………………………….
    Biological Aerosol Particles Are A Larger Climate Forcing Than Considered By The IPCC – A New Paper “Primary Biological Aerosol Particles In The Atmosphere: A Review” By Després Et al 2012

    http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/biological-aersol-particles-are-a-larger-climate-forcing-than-considered-by-the-ipcc/

    Aerosol seem to be an underlying factor in many processes affecting climate. The fact that aerosol and cloud microphysics are areas of greatest uncertainty is very telling. They don’t really know what the aerosols are doing or accounting for all the areas where they are constantly being produced or in what quantities. Yet clouds don’t form without them!

    The concentration of aerosol dictates the concentration of droplets within clouds and hence
    the precipitation efficiency of the cloud (Rosenfeld et al 2008).

  80. Wonder if Europe has been on the same “urban beautification’ kick we’ve had here with various folks planting trees, shrubs, whatever all over trying to turn even old small town into vegetated strip malls?

    One place here has an open brickwork (cinderblock on edge) parking lot with grass in it. Had to do that to meet some ‘green’ law or other or not have the parking… Not that grass gives off lots of pollen… and causes me to sneeze more than most…

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