Tell somebody with allergies that climate change doesn’t exist: I dare you

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Ah-Choo! It’s not just our imagination

There was lots of talk about the environment at the recent Three Amigos Summit (aka The North American Leaders Summit).

One of the tenets of a new partnership revealed there focuses on reducing trade barriers and fostering investment of clean-tech projects across the continent. The partnership also sets a North America-wide goal of 50 per cent clean-energy electricity by 2025, up from the current rate of 37 per cent.

That’s all good news but honestly, all I care about right now is my sinuses and what this might mean to them.

Everywhere I go lately, someone comments on how bad allergies and allergens seem to be this year. My stock comment when I sneeze or cough is, “Don’t worry. It’s not a cold. I JUST have allergies.” I wish I did get colds…you can get over a cold.

In the distant past, I could sit next to a coal-fired power plant, in a room full of smokers with a bouquet of ragweed by my elbow and suffer no obvious ill effects.

A couple of years ago, all that changed. Indoor malls made me feel ‘strange’ – light-headed and nauseated. So I stopped going to malls. Severe, embarrassing and scary asthma-like attacks began. After I had to beat back a waiter when he attempted the Heimlich Maneuver on me, I stopped going to restaurants. The doctor was stymied. I dropped it when the episodes became infrequent once I identified some ‘triggers.’

I use allergy medication and nasal spray year round now. I cannot bear cigarette smoke or perfume or the smell of cleaning products. A few years ago I got a painful rash from the live oak trees when we arrived in Florida; a year later I coughed day and night for the first six weeks. The doctor speculated that the cause is crop dusting (10 miles away) with pesticides. The spraying cycle ended and I was fine.

While my issues reflect our increasingly beleaguered environment, they are relatively minor. It turns out that I am far from alone. Watery eyes, runny noses will be the norm for more and more people over time as warmer winters, human development and climate change converge to create allergy seasons that are increasingly brutal according to various scientific studies…. and the noses and sinus passages of people who aren’t scientific at all.

In a summer like this has been so far, ragweed is in overdrive thanks to the dry weather. More types of stinging insects are finding homes farther north to be increasingly hospitable. As the allergy season expands and the allergens thrive the number of allergy sufferers will increase too.

Hard to believe it but there are still some climate change deniers out there. The problem is that when the denialists and the embracers go head to head in denying and embracing, credibility is lost on both sides. The terrible Fort Mac fires of a few months back are a good example. The embracers insist climate change was to blame while the denialists insist that one has nothing to do with the other.

But the truth appears to somewhere in between. The studies say that climate isn’t the cause for singular events, not that it “has nothing to do with climate change.” It seems likely that climate change has amplified the conditions, which established a greater probability that these events can happen.

But this is the sort of hedging which affords denialists room to maneuver and prevaricate. As one poster to a news report said …

Is there a definitive correlation between climate change and these fires? No. But is the fire season arriving two months earlier and El Nino more intense because of climate change? Absolutely. It’s simply foolhardy to allow certainty to outweigh probability, and the probability that the intense events that we’re seeing are in large measure the result of the cumulative effects of climate change is high.

Another poster added, “That this was expected by officials, that the conditions were predicted for the possibility of conflagration does not negate that probability – in fact, it probably reinforces it. Climate change increases the chances “perfect storm” events like this one will occur and while not the cause can be a catalyst and accelerant. Correlation is not causation, but is causation really the concern here, or is it contribution?”

I think/hope this new North American partnership does encourage the clean technology companies in Canada to continue to innovate. I hope the companies can do a better job of helping us to grasp what clean technology means, what exactly the innovations will do for the environment, and even how it can help the economy. Clean air is not enough on its own apparently.

I don’t fully understand many of the arguments. My eyes glaze over when I hear another long-winded treatise on chem-trails when all can see is a trail of condensed water leaving a white streak against the sky. But they also furrow in annoyance at the notion that the ‘once in a lifetime’ climate events that now happen with alarming frequency are just ‘normal’ cycles.

We all want to drive our cars, move goods across country and heat and cool our homes. And we need to figure out a way to do those things and breathe too. I’m all for breathing.

Dale PeacockFollowing a career in the hospitality sector and the acquisition of a law and justice degree in her 50s, Dale embarked on a writing career armed with the fanciful idea that a living could be made as a freelancer.  To her own great surprise she was right.  The proof lies in hundreds of published works on almost any topic but favourites include travel, humour & satire, feature writing, environment, politics and entrepreneurship. Having re-invented herself half a dozen times, Dale doesn’t rule anything out.  Her time is divided equally between Muskoka and Tampa Bay with Jim, her husband of 7 years and partner of 32 years.  Two grown ‘kids’ and their spouses receive double doses of love and attention when she’s at home. 

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1 Comment

  1. Jim Logagianes on

    It seems as though there is so much confusion surrounding climate change. Cap and Trade has literally failed in Europe and their economy is suffering along with its people. Picking and choosing who can and can not pollute subsidizing one industry over another . Canada’s population is small in comparison to other countries. We are also one of the coldest regions in the world. Adding more taxes and regulations in Ontario will make us the least competitive jurisdiction in the world.
    Selling Ontario Hydro and embracing electric vehicles is flawed legislation at it’s best. Every third-world country that sold their water and electrical power to corporate interests is suffering financially, why does Queens Park think this will not happen here? Ontario prospered throughout my meagre 57 years on this planet with stable and affordable energy. We are now entering a period of global cooling; it snowed this week in Austria. What if the inhabitants of the planet are preventing the next ice age by breathing?
    Cap and Trade will be devastating for the Canadian economy. Sadly if you can’t manage the economy what makes you think you can control the weather?

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