Plants release pollen to breed life but every time they do, I feel like I’m going to die! Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but allergies do have a noticeable impact on my mental and physical productivity. That’s because I am one of the lucky ones whose immune system recognizes the protein sequence in pollen as similar to the protein sequence in parasites. Understandably, our bodies try to expel the “parasite” through sneezing and other allergy symptoms.
According to National Geographic, reports of pollen allergies originated around the industrial revolution – a time when air pollution levels and societal hygiene standards both skyrocketed.
Plants produce more pollen when exposed to warmer temperatures and higher levels of CO2. As a result, the amount of pollen in the air has been increasing ever since the industrial revolution and will continue to increase as climate change worsens.
Not only is there more pollen in the air but we are less resistant to the allergen than the generations before us. Our use of antibiotics, the amount of time we spend indoors and our general state of hygiene, have prevented our immune systems from learning what the real threats are. Consequently, our bodies are much more likely to treat an innocuous substance like pollen as a parasite.
If only we could reverse climate change tomorrow, then I would be able to spend more time in the “messy” outdoors building my immunity to grass.