High concentrations of CO2 in the air change the chemical composition of crops. Increased levels of carbon dioxide cause rice and wheat plants to produce more carbohydrates or starch. Simultaneously the concentration of iron, zinc and protein decreases. If atmospheric CO2 emissions continue to increase until 2050 the reduced micronutrient content in our foods alone could generate a worldwide nutritional crisis.
In the journal Nature Climate Chance, Scientists from Harvard University have now projected the consequences of the rising CO2 concentration created for the supply of the population in 151 countries (1). Consequently, a further 175 million people worldwide are threatened by a lack of zinc and a further 122 million people by protein deficiencies. Likewise, the risk of anemia increases by about four percent. The danger is particularly acute for populations that consume mainly staple foods such as wheat and rice and therefore suffer from a lack of nutrients, especially in South and Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
The experts call upon the politicians of the affected states to take precautionary measures to counteract the fatal health consequences of an increasing lack of micronutrients in our crops.
(1) MR Smith und SR Meyers. Impact of anthropogenic CO2 emissions on global human nutrition. Nature Climate Change. Volume 8, pages 834–839, Published 27- August 2018. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-018-0253-3