You’re Not Crazy. Pollen Season Is Getting Worse

Climate change is making pollen season worse

April 12, 2019 

‘Worst Year Ever’ For Pollen Is Every Year

You might think of it as a comforting routine: the days start getting longer, the weather warms and flowers and trees begin blooming. But then there’s the downsides: runny noses, watery eyes and coughing. Welcome to allergy season! Of course, we’re already hearing that 2019 could be a terrible year for pollen and allergy sufferers. It turns out all of those “worst year ever” predictions are essentially true. Pollen, which triggers allergy issues for one in five Americans, is getting worse every year. And you can thank climate change for the growing clouds of yellow-ish green pollen that stretch across the landscape.

Study Shows Increase In The Amount Of Pollen Produced And The Length Of Pollen Season

A study in Lancet Planetary Health shows that an increase in airborne pollen counts coincides with an increase in world average temperatures. The majority of the 17 sites studied show the amount of pollen produced and the length of the pollen season has increased over the past 20 years. The report also shows the faster the temperature increases, the worse the pollen gets. In short, seasonal allergy issues are one of the most visible signs of how climate change will affect people’s health.

Here’s what scientists have figured out so far about the relationship between climate change and seasonal allergies.

1. You Won’t Be Able To Escape Pollen.

Allergies occur when the body’s immune system locks onto what would normally be a harmless substance and overreacts. Pollen is a fine powder produced as part of the sexual reproductive cycle of many varieties of plants, including pine and elm trees, ryegrass, and ragweed. Plants release pollen in response to environmental signals such as sunlight, temperature and precipitation. And since temperature is one of the dominant factors, Dr. Robert Bardon, a professor of forestry and environmental resources at North Carolina State University, suggests this calculation to determine how long pollen season will last.

Peak season for pollen production for loblolly pine, one of the most prolific pollen producers, can be predicted based on the number of days since February 1 that the temperature is above 55 degrees Fahrenheit. To calculate the peak, add up the number of degrees the daily high temperature is above 55. Once a total of 636 degrees is reached, pollen production has peaked.

Bardon adds that pine trees produce 2.5-to-5 pounds of pollen in a two-to-four-week period. And while peak pollen production may shift by a week or two, depending on temperature, it generally lands around mid-April for the Piedmont and Coastal Plain in North Carolina. The length of the pollen season is generally about the same. The trees produce so much to ensure the reproduction of the species. In an evolutionary sense, large quantities of pollen, blown by the wind, will help the species reproduce over a large area. Grains of pollen vary in size. All are tiny, but they range from nine microns to 200 microns.

There are three big yearly peaks in pollen production. Trees like oak, ash, birch, and maple see pollen surges in the spring. Pollen from timothy grass, bluegrass, and orchard grass peaks over the summer, and ragweed pollen spikes in the fall. If you are sensitive to multiple varieties of pollen, you won’t get much of a break during warmer weather because seasons will be overlapping.

2. Pollen Is Around Much Longer

In general, pollen is emerging earlier and the season is stretching out much longer. Warmer average temperatures mean that spring starts earlier and winter arrives later, giving pollen producers more time to spew their sneeze-inducing particles.

3. Pollen Is Going To Get Worse

Researchers estimate that pollen counts of all varieties will likely double by 2040 in some parts of the country, depending on how well the world deals with climate change. More than 26 million Americans suffer from some type of seasonal allergy. You can get a tissue now.

—Frank Graff 

 Frank Graff is a producer/reporter with UNC-TV, focusing on Sci NC, a broadcast and online science series.

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Frank Zappa: Son of Orange County + More Trouble Every Day (Repost)

I’m not sorry at all to repost. This performance deserves every bit of attention you can lend to it. Keep it alive as part of YOUR culture.

Mainly, as some may know, I am learning to play keyboards, and the Rhodes sound is just my favorite thing in the world. It has its place, whatever. Anyway, George Duke. George Duke. George Duke. Underappreciated. As are other artists who played with Zappa.

A real record store in the before time, in the wayback, could populate an entire aisle with Zappa records. Not only was he prolific, but he assembled crack teams of ninja starfighter musicians who had to be for real-real to make the team. And, among all of those, George Duke. George Motherfucking Duke. Learn it. Live it. Love it. He’s the man surrounded by multi-tier keyboards, looking like he’s manning his station on the bridge of the starship Zappa.

The only way out is through

There will be more triumphalists out there, who have, as individuals and as a group, identified “America” at large as defined primarily by racism and brutality.

There will be reactionaries who will use powerful rhetoric to justify bringing violence against them.

There will be attacks and counter-attacks.

The authorities will try to control the narrative and suppress information about actual attacks for fear of emboldening potential attackers.

The suppression of information will be taken as confirmation of the correctness of the position against the authorities, rightly identifying their inability to tell the truth, ever. Especially to themselves.

But in the end, the science and art of keeping the peace seems to be well kept among lodges and sacerdotal fraternities. Or so goes the prevailing wisdom. I’m sure it was always thus in such places at such times, and that is why the wheel keeps turning.

Psychological realism and realpolitik as heuristic for no bullshit

That’s pretty much where I am, currently, and it brings no comfort at all. Perversely, it satisfies my need to find a frame or prism through which to objectively and empirically demonstrate where we’ve gone wrong, and the implications for how to go right are entirely obvious, but entirely unacceptable by everyone, universally, which is how I know that I’ve stumbled upon truth.

I’ve discovered that mainstream news media and wonk factory, whose stock and trade is credibility and insider insights, cannot abide incorporation of what we’ve learned, scientifically, and even philosophically, into analyses of subsequent incoming reports and analyses. They cannot go meta. They cannot be psychologically realistic about the news they report AND be politically sensitive, partisan, or opportunistic at the same time. Only the media analyzes itself. Anyone know that a doctor who diagnoses and treats himself has a schmuck for a patient.

The mainstream media cannot, for structural and practical reasons, be honest about itself in light of ulterior motives experienced by all human beings, which is only psychologically realistic. Anything follows from a falsehood, then, according to logic.

Time is indeed the revelator

What time has made clear is that, if you have a polis of millions but still need to choose from a very, very small pool of vetted candidates for decades, that pretty much indicates that your ideas and goals and perhaps even motivations aren’t good enough to sell to a larger audience. And the “you” is a political monster that needs killing before the world can move on.

I hereby announceth the coming of tutorials

How to Not Fuck Up So Much is a speculative work in incubation. Meanwhile, I tease and titillate you with ideas for tutorials like the following, which shall be forthcoming in the year ahead:

  • How to Install and Configure UbuntuStudio 18.04
  • How to Setup QjackCtl and Ardour as the Backbone of Your Linux DAW
  • How to Configure and Deploy PoE Outdoor Security Cameras Using Motion and VLC to Secure Your Home
  • How to Install and Configure the Icecast Media Server for Decentralized and Poly-Hierarchical Syndication

And of course I want to promote my own stuff and continue pissing and moaning, but maybe I might give back a little bit, too. You’ll notice there are no ads, here. I’m thinking that writing up a few tutorials will be cathartic for me, fuck you. Read them. Don’t. Your loss.

The logical implications of the Samantha Josephson murder

For those of you who have missed the developing story, a USC student called for an Uber, then climbed into a car that she thought was there for her. A few moments after she departed, her actual Uber showed up, waited a while, then left, again.

Josephson climbed into a car being driven by Nathaniel David Rowland, a 24-year-old man. Rowland apparently thought it was his lucky day, as he engaged his child locks and drove away to some place where he killed the young woman. Probably raped her, first, but I don’t know that.

The horrible legacy of this case is that it kind of makes a lie of the idea that most people are Good People, and there are few Bad People among us, responsible for most of the Bad Things. What are the odds that if you climb into the wrong car, it’s going to be owned by a psychopathic killer who wants to kill you? Well, apparently better odds than I would have thought.

MIT and NASA engineers demonstrate a new kind of airplane wing

MIT and NASA engineers demonstrate a new kind of airplane wing
New way of fabricating aircraft wings could enable radical new designs, such as this concept, which could be more efficient for some applications. Credit: Eli Gershenfeld, NASA Ames Research Center

A team of engineers has built and tested a radically new kind of airplane wing, assembled from hundreds of tiny identical pieces. The wing can change shape to control the plane’s flight, and could provide a significant boost in aircraft production, flight, and maintenance efficiency, the researchers say.

The new approach to wing construction could afford greater flexibility in the design and manufacturing of future aircraft. The new wing design was tested in a NASA wind tunnel and is described today in a paper in the journal Smart Materials and Structures, co-authored by research engineer Nicholas Cramer at NASA Ames in California; MIT alumnus Kenneth Cheung SM ’07 Ph.D. ’12, now at NASA Ames; Benjamin Jenett, a graduate student in MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms; and eight others.

Instead of requiring separate movable surfaces such as ailerons to control the roll and pitch of the plane, as conventional wings do, the new assembly system makes it possible to deform the whole wing, or parts of it, by incorporating a mix of stiff and flexible components in its structure. The tiny subassemblies, which are bolted together to form an open, lightweight lattice framework, are then covered with a thin layer of similar polymer material as the framework.

The result is a wing that is much lighter, and thus much more energy efficient, than those with conventional designs, whether made from metal or composites, the researchers say. Because the structure, comprising thousands of tiny triangles of matchstick-like struts, is composed mostly of empty space, it forms a mechanical “metamaterial” that combines the structural stiffness of a rubber-like polymer and the extreme lightness and low density of an aerogel.

Jenett explains that for each of the phases of a flight—takeoff and landing, cruising, maneuvering and so on—each has its own, different set of optimal wing parameters, so a conventional wing is necessarily a compromise that is not optimized for any of these, and therefore sacrifices efficiency. A wing that is constantly deformable could provide a much better approximation of the best configuration for each stage.

MIT and NASA engineers demonstrate a new kind of airplane wing
Wing assembly is seen under construction, assembled from hundreds of identical subunits. The wing was tested in a NASA wind tunnel. Credit: Kenny Cheung, NASA Ames Research Center

While it would be possible to include motors and cables to produce the forces needed to deform the wings, the team has taken this a step further and designed a system that automatically responds to changes in its aerodynamic loading conditions by shifting its shape—a sort of self-adjusting, passive wing-reconfiguration process.

“We’re able to gain efficiency by matching the shape to the loads at different angles of attack,” says Cramer, the paper’s lead author. “We’re able to produce the exact same behavior you would do actively, but we did it passively.”

This is all accomplished by the careful design of the relative positions of struts with different amounts of flexibility or stiffness, designed so that the wing, or sections of it, bend in specific ways in response to particular kinds of stresses.

Cheung and others demonstrated the basic underlying principle a few years ago, producing a wing about a meter long, comparable to the size of typical remote-controlled model aircraft. The new version, about five times as long, is comparable in size to the wing of a real single-seater plane and could be easy to manufacture.

While this version was hand-assembled by a team of graduate students, the repetitive process is designed to be easily accomplished by a swarm of small, simple autonomous assembly robots. The design and testing of the robotic assembly system is the subject of an upcoming paper, Jenett says.

MIT and NASA engineers demonstrate a new kind of airplane wing
For testing purposes, this initial wing was hand-assembled, but future versions could be assembled by specialized miniature robots. Credit: Kenny Cheung, NASA Ames Research Center

The individual parts for the previous wing were cut using a waterjet system, and it took several minutes to make each part, Jenett says. The new system uses injection molding with polyethylene resin in a complex 3-D mold, and produces each part—essentially a hollow cube made up of matchstick-size struts along each edge—in just 17 seconds, he says, which brings it a long way closer to scalable production levels.

“Now we have a manufacturing method,” he says. While there’s an upfront investment in tooling, once that’s done, “the parts are cheap,” he says. “We have boxes and boxes of them, all the same.”

The resulting lattice, he says, has a density of 5.6 kilograms per cubic meter. By way of comparison, rubber has a density of about 1,500 kilograms per cubic meter. “They have the same stiffness, but ours has less than roughly one-thousandth of the density,” Jenett says.

Because the overall configuration of the wing or other structure is built up from tiny subunits, it really doesn’t matter what the shape is. “You can make any geometry you want,” he says. “The fact that most aircraft are the same shape”—essentially a tube with wings—”is because of expense. It’s not always the most efficient shape.” But massive investments in design, tooling, and production processes make it easier to stay with long-established configurations.

Studies have shown that an integrated body and wing structure could be far more efficient for many applications, he says, and with this system those could be easily built, tested, modified, and retested.

MIT and NASA engineers demonstrate a new kind of airplane wing
Artists concept shows integrated wing-body aircraft, enabled by the new construction method being assembled by a group of specialized robots, shown in orange. Credit: Eli Gershenfeld, NASA Ames Research Center

“The research shows promise for reducing cost and increasing the performance for large, light weight, stiff structures,” says Daniel Campbell, a structures researcher at Aurora Flight Sciences, a Boeing company, who was not involved in this research. “Most promising near-term applications are structural applications for airships and space-based structures, such as antennas.”

The new wing was designed to be as large as could be accommodated in NASA’s high-speed wind tunnel at Langley Research Center, where it performed even a bit better than predicted, Jenett says.

The same system could be used to make other structures as well, Jenett says, including the wing-like blades of wind turbines, where the ability to do on-site assembly could avoid the problems of transporting ever-longer blades. Similar assemblies are being developed to build space structures, and could eventually be useful for bridges and other high performance structures.

[Stolen from:]

To my African-American fellow citizens

I only have a small set of messages, and I like to make them provocative. It just so happens that one of those messages is about our human origins, and it could be possible that one of you might read something I have written and determine that I might be some kind of racist, because I harp on things like our Neanderthal hybrid heritage, the gap in human scientific nomenclature, and my understanding of the state of the science on how the history and the paleontology and genetic science all talk to one another. I’m a house painter, and not an academic, so it is always possible that my awareness of the state of the science is behind the curve.

I don’t think I am a racist or harbor any grudges against any particular ethnic group, but I’m open to working on it. My point is that I am here to sting everyone equally, but I would rather not hurt anyone unnecessarily, and especially if it was due to a misunderstanding.

I speak in the most stark, but factual, terms that I feel I can ethically get away with, if given a fair hearing. Such is my trust in my ability to articulate my defense.

Having said all of that, my message to African-Americans, and I mean specifically those whose families have been here for a while, you might look and talk differently than me, but you are statistically likely to be only 80% or so “pure” sub-Saharan African, and that means you are, statistically speaking, likely to be infected with either the D-allele, or Neanderthal genes, or both. Just like me. And that is “the thing”. Not the skin color. That makes you more my cousins than my ancestors. And that is almost the sum total of my thoughts on race in America, vis a vis Black and White.