Climate Change Close to Home

Photo of a backyard where examples of climate change can be found.Jean Burns

Abundant tree pollen, flourishing poison ivy and more biting insects—all are signs of climate change in your backyard. Jean Burns, PhD, an associate professor of biology at Case Western Reserve, showed Think the evidence behind her own home and others.

Photo of leaves and pollen


New research shows that the release of tree pollen starts earlier, lasts longer and results in 21% more pollen generated than 30 years ago.

“That’s a direct consequence of a warmer climate,” Burns said, and can make seasonal allergies more miserable.

Photo of poison ivy


Poison ivy thrives when the air contains more carbon dioxide—a leading cause of global warming. Some research indicates it grows 18 times faster than trees in such climates.

Photo of a a Multiflora Rose


Warming climates produce “winners and losers,” said Burns, whose research indicates that invasive species, such as Rosa multiflora, a species of rose, thrive amid higher temperatures and further crowd out other species.

Photo of poison ivy


Yes, we’re seeing rising numbers of them. Mosquitos breed in standing water left by frequent, severe storms; while warmer weather allows more tick-carrying deer to survive.

Photo of poison ivyPhotos: iStock.com


For millennia, certain insects and animals emerged from their winter homes to feed just as their plant food sources grew and matured in springtime weather. But now global warming has led to what’s called “a phenological mismatch,” with some species re-appearing to find their food sources already past bloom and unavailable.