Our Food

Our food supply is threatened.

Rising CO2 reduces the nutritional value – the protein and minerals found in most food crops.

How is the environment changing?

  • The nutritional value of our food is being diminished by climate change.

Source: Taub, D. R., B. Miller, and H. Allen, 2008: Effects of elevated CO 2 on the protein concentration of food crops: A meta-analysis. Global Change Biology, 14, 565-575.

  • Although a number of foods are supplemented with nutrients, it is estimated that the diets of 38% of Americans fall below the estimated average requirements for calcium and 45% for magnesium. Approximately 12% of the population is at risk for zinc deficiency, including perhaps as much as 40% of the elderly.

Source:https://health2016.globalchange.gov/food-safety-nutrition-and-distribution/content/nutrition Accessed May 31, 2017.

  • Projected trends: When grown at the CO2 levels projected for 2100, major food crops such as barley, wheat, rice and potato exhibit 6% to 15% lower iron, zinc and protein concentrations.

Source: Myers, S. S., and others, 2014: Increasing CO2 threatens human nutrition. Nature, 510, 139-142.

 How is our health affected?

  • A deficiency in calcium, magnesium or zinc is one of the world’s leading health risk factors that adversely affects metabolism, the immune system, cognitive development and maturation—particularly in children. These deficiencies can exacerbate the effects of diseases and can be a factor in the prevalence of obesity. Iron andzinc deficiencies cause serious harm, in particular to developing babies and pregnant women.

Source:https://health2016.globalchange.gov/food-safety-nutrition-and-distribution/content/nutrition. Accessed May 31, 2017.

  • There is strong evidence that the substitution of dietary carbohydrate for dietary protein increases the risk of hypertension, lipid disorders, and 10-year coronary heart disease risk.

Source: Myers, S. S., and others, 2014: Increasing CO2 threatens human nutrition. Nature, 510, 139-142.doi:10.1038/nature13179.

 

Climate change exacerbates the decline in fish stock.

How is the environment changing?

  • Global fish catch peaked in 1996 and has been falling by 1.22 million tons (roughly 1%) per year since then.

Source: Pauly, D., & Zeller, D. (2016). Catch reconstructions reveal that global marine fisheries catches are higher than reported and declining. Nature communications, 7.

  • Fish are projected to decrease in biomass by approximately 20%, particularly in the tropics and subtropics, with ocean warming and associated declines in oxygen content of oceans.

Source: Cheung WWL, et al. (2012) Shrinking of fishes exacerbates impacts of global ocean changes on marine ecosystems. Nat Clim Chang 3(3):254–258.

  • Warmer waters species are being found at higher latitudes, with a decrease in the proportion of catches of subtropical species in the tropics.

Source: Cheung, William WL, Reg Watson, and Daniel Pauly. "Signature of ocean warming in global fisheries catch." Nature 497, no. 7449 (2013): 365.

 How is our health affected?

  • Climate change might also influence the nutrient content of seafood through changing the nutritional composition of phytoplankton communities, with consequent effects up the food chain.

Source: Myers, S. S., Smith, M. R., Guth, S., Golden, C. D., Vaitla, B., Mueller, N. D., ... & Huybers, P. (2017). Climate Change and Global Food Systems: Potential Impacts on Food Security and Undernutrition. Annual Review of Public Health.(0).

  • Low income people are particularly at risk of nutrient deficiencies because of their limited access to dietary alternatives.

Source: Myers, S. S., Smith, M. R., Guth, S., Golden, C. D., Vaitla, B., Mueller, N. D., ... & Huybers, P. (2017). Climate Change and Global Food Systems: Potential Impacts on Food Security and Undernutrition. Annual Review of Public Health, (0).

  • More than 10% of the global population people could face micronutrient and fatty-acid deficiencies driven by anticipated fish declines over the coming decades.

Source: Golden, C. D., Edward H. Allison, William WL Cheung, Madan M. Dey, Benjamin S. Halpern, Douglas J. McCauley, Matthew Smith, Bapu Vaitla, Dirk Zeller, and Samuel S. Myers. "Fall in fish catch threatens human health." Nature 534, no. 7607 (2016): 317-320.


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