According to a paper published online this week in Nature Climate Change, future increases in atmospheric Carbon Dioxide (CO2) levels could affect human nutrition in many parts of the world. Unless we take strong mitigation measures, atmospheric CO2 levels are expected to exceed 550 PPM over the next 30-80 years, which is going to reduce iron, protein and zinc levels by 3-17 per cent in many major crops. Loss of dietary nutrients would cast negative effects on human health.
Matthew Smith and Samuel Myers from Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health analyse the effects of rising CO2 levels on iron, protein and zinc supplements for the populations in 151 countries or regions using a hierarchical model of age and gender. They found that rising concentration of co2 could cause an additional 175 million people short of zinc and 122 million short of protein by 2050. In addition, in countries or regions where 1.4 billion women of childbearing age and children under five are currently living will endure over 20 per cent of the anemia prevalence since the public lose more than 4 per cent of their iron intake in their diet. The prevalence and severity of malnutrition is likely to rise across the globe because of a lack of momentum to resist the changes described above in the absence of visible growth in hunger. Areas of particular concern include Africa, south and south-east Asia, and the Middle East.