Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Itching to solve global warming?

Anyone keeping track of the pluses and minuses when it comes to the impact of climate change will find another reason to be concerned about what happens if the climate warms up.

We’ll probably be itchier.

Places in red are where in America poison ivy is most commonly found. Note the West is relatively safe from it. (Graphic from www.poison-ivy.org)

The Wall Street Journal today ran a story about how research has shown the more carbon dioxide there is in the air, the healthier the poison ivy plants as it creates “ideal conditions for the plant, producing bigger leaves, faster growth, hardier plants and oil that’s even more irritating.”

Just great: the one area of increased oil production that won’t be positive for us.
Instead, urushiol oil — found in poison ivy but also in poison oak, which is more common here in the West — will be more potent in therefore we will be more sensitive and itchier.

One would suspect poison oak would probably thrive just as eagerly on more carbon dioxide.

Researchers tested the plants at 1950s carbon dioxide atmosphere levels and current levels. According to WSJ, the researchers found after eight months of exposure, “leaf size, stem length and weight and oil content of the plants raised at current carbon-dioxide levels were, on average, 50-75 percent higher than plants under the 1950s conditions…”
WSJ added that the research also showed the hardier plants “recovered more quickly from the ravages of grazing animals.”

Obviously hungrier animals are needed. And more of them.

Click here to find out more about poison oak, or its equally awful companion and poison ivy.

The poison ivy website is particularly … interesting, to say the least. It includes pictures in its “Skin Rash Hall of Fame” that it explains as the following: “Viewers have sent in their own rash photos. If you want to see what the rash looks like, click here, but be warned — these rash pix are seriously grody.”

To even get to the pictures, you need to go through more warnings such as “Welcome to the Poison Ivy Rash Hall of Fame slide show. If you really want to see these pictures you may proceed, but I do suggest you not view these right before dinner, particularly if you are an adult. Kids may go right ahead.” Then click on “I want to see REALLY grody pictures of poison ivy the rash.”

After even seeing one picture, you get choices of what you want to do next, such as “Yuck! I want to GO BACK and re-read your warning and then call my lawyer” or “Wow! Great rash! Let's see some more!” There are equally great little sayings throughout the whole slide show. For those who venture through the whole show without turning back, congratulations. And may you sleep well tonight.

Finally, the website does put into perspective how serious is it that climate change will produce healthier, more powerful poison ivy: “It is hardly the most scary aspect of global warming, compared to Florida under water.”

True. But Florida under water would definitely be temporarily more soothing to the people itching from poison ivy.


Anonymous said...

You know what bugs me? The fact that Clinton signed the Kyoto treaty way back in 1998, and the Senate has yet to ratify it or even seriously put it on the table. What gives?

And check out this evil slander:


Anonymous said...

Do a check of Google and you will find that Bill Clinton never presented the Kyoto Treaty to Congress. It was never signed.

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