Apart from the weather related implications of climate change that will impact the ecosystem, research suggests that crops are likely to end up with lesser nutrient value. Experts are of the opinion that higher levels of carbon dioxide as a result of climate change will reduce the protein, zinc and iron in crops and this will severely impact the health of people living in the poorer nations of the earth.
The present study conducted by the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health reported, in the words of Dr.Mathew Smith, a co-author, “this clearly shows how higher levels of CO2 will affect global health”. He stated that it was absolutely necessary to be vigilant and contribute towards reducing carbon dioxide levels as this aspect has been neglected till now.
Studies in the past had predicted that the fall in protein, zinc and iron levels were expected to be in the range of 3 to 17% by 2050 as a result of higher carbon dioxide levels. This translates into alarming figures of an additional 175 million people becoming zinc deficient while the figure for protein deficiency is expected to around 122 million. Individuals with zinc deficiencies are more likely to suffer from delayed healing of wounds and lesser immunity to infections and diarrhea. Children born with protein deficiency typically suffer from stunted growth, while pregnant women with iron deficiencies are more likely to experience a host of complications during childbirth. This is alarming considering that individuals residing in poorer regions are more likely to account for about 1.4 billion pregnant women and children below the age of five, and this category will be the most exposed to the these deficiencies.
The findings of the study were published in the Nature Climate Change journal, relying on data from multiple sources, including the UN FAO. Co-authors Smith and Samuel Myers of the same Harvard School carefully pored over statistics of more than 225 different nutrition sources. The study carefully considered various nuances across regions and dietary preferences as per gender and age in different nations.