Climate Change is Causing Nutritional Deficiencies
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Rising levels of carbon dioxide could make crops less nutritious and damage the health of hundreds of millions of people, research has revealed, with those living in some of the world’s poorest regions likely to be hardest hit.
Previous research has shown that many food crops become less nutritious when grown under the CO2 levels expected by 2050, with reductions of protein, iron and zinc estimated at 3–17%.
Now experts say such changes could mean that by the middle of the century about 175 million more people develop a zinc deficiency, while 122 million people who are not currently protein deficient could become so.
In addition, about 1.4 billion women of childbearing age and infants under five years old will be living in regions where there will be the highest risk of iron deficiency.
Among other problems, zinc deficiencies are linked to troubles with wound healing, infections and diarrhoea; protein deficiencies are linked to stunted growth; and iron deficiencies are tied to complications in pregnancy and childbirth.
“This is another demonstration of how higher CO2 could affect global health that may not be as well recognised,” said Dr Matthew Smith, co-author of the study from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. “Continuing to keep up our vigilance around reducing CO2 emissions becomes all the more important because of this research.”
Writing in the journal Nature Climate Change, Smith and co-author Samuel Myers, also from Harvard, describe how they drew on data from a host of sources, including figures from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, to explore food supply in different countries. In total Smith and Myers looked at 225 different foods including wheat, rice, maize and specific vegetables, roots and fruits. This is a very serious situation. The world is becoming so volatile there is no telling what is next. Support the environment in your political decisions. Visit our store for GREAT prices and FREE shipping on hundreds of professional products. Gift certificates available. Gift health this year! This concludes our series for November. SignUP! to receive our upcoming topics. Thanks! We will post our new calendar on Monday. Sources for this article include Nature Climate Change and the Guardian.