Make Urban Living Safer for Allergy and Asthma Sufferers

Target: John Gibbs, Acting Assistant Secretary for U.S. Community Planning and Development

Goal: Make urban planning landscaping more friendly to allergy and asthma sufferers.

A long-term and prevalent respiratory stressor is being spread by urban planners across the country and around the world. Researchers warn that so-called “botanical sexism,” in which male trees are planted in significantly larger numbers than female trees, compounds the troubles of millions of allergy-afflicted Americans every year. This favoritism can be a significant driver of hay fever and asthma: respiratory conditions that present a serious health risk in some individuals.

Urban planners often favor male trees because they do not drop the seeds or fruits considered nuisances in a cityscape.  The downside, however, is that these plants produce much more pollen (a main contributor to allergies). Female trees can capture and in a sense vacuum up some of the errant pollen, but green spaces increasingly feature exclusively male trees. The pollen threat becomes worse in cities because air pollution particles can bind to the pollen and exacerbate its allergenic effects.

Scientists stress that a more diverse mix of male and female trees could greatly reduce the pollen threat in towns and cities around the country: a belief seemingly affirmed by efforts taken in international cities. Sign this petition to encourage support for a similar plan in the United States that could relieve the respiratory distress of countless communities.


Dear Mr. Gibbs,

Over half a billion people in the world suffer from hay fever or asthma. These respiratory conditions are seemingly on the rise in America….and human beings are likely to blame. In fact, misogyny may be the unseen villain behind this troubling trend.

Plants in nature are classified as male, female, or a combination of both. For decades, urban planners have implemented their own “battle of the sexes” in which male trees have emerged dominantly victorious. While these trees may give advantages of convenience and cleanliness, they also disperse much higher percentages of the pollen that wreaks havoc on so many respiratory systems.  Cities that have taken heed of this problem and implemented a form of botanical affirmative action (with a more equal, balancing mix of male and female trees) report notable reductions in allergy-related health problems.

Please learn from these successes. Promote equality in nature and protect the well-being of vulnerable Americans.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Zigzig20s

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126 Signatures

  • Jillana Laufer
  • Elizabeth Rutledge
  • Shelley Costantini
  • Izumi Ogawa-Schulz
  • Bruce Batchelor PhD
  • Hermann Kastner
  • Chrissie Mitchell
  • Diane Ethridge
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  • Frank Kling
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