Fall will officially arrive today, September 22, 2013, at 4:44 p.m. EDT during what is called the autumnal equinox. During this time, the sun crosses directly over the earth's equator and both day and night are about equal in length.
While the arrival of this glorious time of year will be celebrated with numerous harvest and food festivals, culminating with that decidedly American tradition, Thanksgiving, allergy sufferers will not be celebrating this astronomical event.
So what's the fuss all about? For those of us with allergies, it is ragweed season. And believe it or not, ragweed allergies are going to be getting a lot worse as time goes on. It has to do with carbon dioxide and global warming.
A quick lesson on CO2 and changes in the earth's climate are needed. Man has been a user of fossil fuels since time began. Oil and coal played a significant role in bringing on the industrial age, and we have used these fuels to the point that we are harming our planet.
By-products of the use of fossil fuels are carbon dioxide. The atmosphere holds this gas, along with other gases like methane, in a blanket, covering the planet. The really bad piece of information to add to this is that ragweed thrives on CO2.
Manuel Lerdau, a University of Virginia biologist says that exposed to elevated levels of CO2, ragweed grows faster than most other plants in the eastern U.S. Not only that, but the CO2 helps the ragweed to produce chemicals that ward off insects that would normally eat the ragweed.
What may have been started is nothing less than a vicious cycle, of ragweed and CO2. More CO2 allows for bigger plants, and bigger plants use more CO2. Another by-product of fuel emissions is nitrogen. Nitrogen is a great fertilizer for ragweed.
While this may seem to be a simple explanation, be assured that scientists are studying the effects of rising carbon dioxide levels and the relationship they have with the quality of our health. For allergy sufferers, be prepared and ready, because the ragweed season has started.