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Bon Journal

Hayfever and climate change

Finally, the day is warm enough to sit outside and read. I cycle to the post office and the supermarket. I wash my clothes and dry them outside. I repot the coriander and basil plants.

Then disaster struck.

I couldn't stop sneezing. My nose kept running. My eyes kept watering. I had to run inside, shut all windows, and hold on to my box of kleenex tissues.

What happened?

Here I am, wringing my fourth handkerchief after swallowing my second antihistamine tablet. I try eyedrops and nasal spray. I feel better after eating - but the spasms start again: ACHOO! ACHOO!

I never had hayfever before summer of 1997. I returned to central London and started sneezing almost as soon as I landed. Since I didn't know what it was, I never went to a doctor. I just kept blowing my nose, tearing my eyes out, everywhere I cycled.

A year later, I learned of the term "pollen count".

And every year I suffer. I wake up with a sneeze. I wake up to stinging eyelids. I cough. I feel crippled by the environment.

How can that be? Doctors say you grow into allergies not out of them. So, the older I get, the more I have to live with these allergies. But surely global climate change has something to do with this?

Ironically, I've been researching this very topic: climate change, global warming, greenhouse gas emissions, Kyoto Protocol. I'm aggravated that the US has pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol. I'm disturbed that delay tactics are the response to questioning the uncertainty of minor points. I am overwhelmed by the amount of information and yet the lack of simple, clear-cut "knowledge" to the layman. So I want to make it clear and understood.

If not for my hayfever, I wouldn't feel so passionate about this subject. If not for my hayfever, I would have finished writing by now. Instead, I pace and struggle all day just to have five minutes without blowing my nose.

It's night time 2 am. After I wake up, I should embrace the longest day of the year.

But I'll have to wish with all my heart that the grass pollen count would be minimal. Highly unlikely - if I want to have a warm sunny day!

21 June 2001

BBC's daily pollen forecast
US pollen forecast
Hayfever - the treatment
Positive Health article