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Pollen and Allergic Respiratory Diseases on the Rise; Linked to Climate Disruption

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Health Issues page, Appetite For a Change page, and our Environment and Climate Resource Center page.

Around the globe, pollen counts are increasing and Australian Bureau of Statistics data suggests it could be affecting our health: 17.1 per cent of the Australian population reported hay fever symptoms in 2008, compared with 10.3 per cent in 1990. Meanwhile, the number of asthma-related deaths among children more than doubled between 2006 and 2010.

Some scientists believe climate change could be to blame for the rise in pollen. Associate Professor Paul Beggs, deputy head of the Department of Environment and Geography at Macquarie University, says: "There is generally earlier timing of spring events in both plants and animals. And earlier flowering is obviously related to earlier release of pollen into the atmosphere."

In the last century, there has been a 0.8 degree Celsius rise in global temperatures. Climate-change advocates believe it is this rise that has brought about the shift in season timings. They point to the rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as one of the causes of escalating global temperatures. May figures from the International Energy Agency found emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel combustion reached an all-time high last year.

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