April 15, 2010

Why Is There So Much Pollen?

norway maple.JPG
I'm bored and horny, which are the same thing


Female trees are not sought after by landscapers (especially in the city) because what makes them pretty-- flowers and fruit-- also makes them considerably high maintenance.  Someone has to clean up after them.

So urban landscapers favor male trees-- no flowers.  But plenty of pollen.

There are things which complicate allergies in the city.

First is the urban environment: it's concrete and limited.  There's nowhere to go, nothing to do, except blow around aimlessly.

Second, because of the cars, etc, there's plenty of carbon dioxide-- essentially fast food for trees-- which makes the trees pollinate even more.

Third-- and if you don't live near a city all you need to do is watch any TV show set in a city-- Grey's Anatomy or CSI NY-- there aren't that many different kinds of trees.  The same types are used over and over.   People forget that there are millions of kinds of trees, they expect to see the same 5 or so.

Unlike delicious rum, exposure to the same kinds of pollen over and over makes you more sensitive to it, not less.  Certainly if there were more species of tree out there, you wouldn't react as negatively to a repeated presentation of the same kind. But, as said, female trees are deliberately avoided by landscapers.  Since you're not used to seeing different kinds of trees, it never quite hits you that this state of affairs is not only unnecessary, it's deliberately manufactured.

But most importantly to the problem of pollination is simply that there aren't any female trees.  This makes the male trees pollinate more.  Ordinarily, a paucity of female trees would result in a shift in equilibrium, to form more females/less males.

But the landscape isn't natural, it's artificial-- no female trees.  So the male trees, instinctively, keep upping their game;  they're not aware they're doing it, of course.  Nor are they aware that it doesn't make a difference what they do-- because the environment is being manipulated from the outside.

II.

Imagine what kind of upkeep would be necessary if, for some reason, we didn't have any male trees.  How much would it cost the city to both remove the male trees while maintaining the female trees, the seeds, etc?   Putting aside environmental concerns, trying to keep up this kind of disequilibrium wouldn't make any economic sense.  We'd quite quickly figure out a way to plant some male trees.

III. 

Or, this.










Comments

Alone's comment: Sorry, ... (Below threshold)

April 15, 2010 5:35 PM | Posted by Alone: | Reply

Alone's comment: Sorry, I messed this up. I wanted this post to appear earlier than the "Why Is It Hard To Find A Good Black Man To Marry?", but I somehow never posted this one, only the other. So I've put it here. Sorry to break the fourth wall.

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Carbon Dioxide not Carbon M... (Below threshold)

April 16, 2010 8:23 AM | Posted by DDR: | Reply

Carbon Dioxide not Carbon Monoxide. Both are high in cities, but the CO2 is the tree food.

Alone's response: I'm an idiot. Fixed.

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Living here in the Ohio Val... (Below threshold)

April 16, 2010 10:34 AM | Posted by DaddyBear: | Reply

Living here in the Ohio Valley, tree pollen travels in great yellowish-green clouds, even away from the city. I'm told it's because of the bowl that we live in here, along with the general lack of wind and rain to clean the air. Add that to the manipulation you write about, and it's a recipe for pollen so thick you can shovel it.

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I'm kind of missing the sub... (Below threshold)

April 16, 2010 12:12 PM | Posted by syntaxfree: | Reply

I'm kind of missing the substantive, rubbing-knowledge-in-my-face, most-people-are-idiots-about-medical-science posts. As I said once before, your persona is better balanced by alternating those with the often good social commentary. "Will you ever be happy" needs "The most important article on psychiatry you'll ever read" -- it establishes credibility, and makes your sociological articles more personable.

The fury about "Will you ever be happy" happens periodically on reddit and such sites; people will oversimplify what you're saying to feel outraged, because outrage actually feels good.

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This is interesting! I won... (Below threshold)

April 16, 2010 3:30 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

This is interesting! I wonder if a low or no pollen tree can be engineered to reduce allergies.

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Meanwhile the incidence of ... (Below threshold)

April 16, 2010 10:19 PM | Posted by Datura: | Reply

Meanwhile the incidence of asthma, especially in urban areas, especially in children, skyrockets, while the drugs we give people to treat said asthma are more likely to kill them than status asthmaticus.

But look on the bright side: we don't have to clean crabapples off our sidewalks.

This is more than false economy. Our species is insane.

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Let's say, you rip up all t... (Below threshold)

April 17, 2010 9:59 AM | Posted by Jack Coupal: | Reply

Let's say, you rip up all the male trees in the city. Plant only female trees. Female trees continue to blossom each spring.

After a while, there's no pollen to, ...er, pollinate the blossoms. except dilute pollen that blows in from the countryside.

In 30 years, will you have to sweep up crabapples, petals, leaves that drop from the remaining trees in the city?

Just asking. I'm not horticultural.

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HELP! I don't get the male/... (Below threshold)

April 17, 2010 1:33 PM | Posted by HELP: | Reply

HELP! I don't get the male/female trees metaphor. Please, can someone explain? I'm dying here.

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Tiger, meet Woods.... (Below threshold)

April 17, 2010 3:37 PM | Posted, in reply to HELP's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

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