How does climate change influence what we eat has less nutrients?

Few of us – except you daring – would drink from a glass without knowing what it contains. However, the same does not happen with food. Do we really know what we are eating? Many scientists already claim that climate change negatively affects the food we eat.

The increase in carbon dioxide has not been slowed since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. This element is found in plants and, therefore, in our food. Although it would not be fair not to recognize that CO2 helps food production every day.

It is one of the factors that allows to accelerate agricultural productivity so that we can all eat, or at least a large part of the population. It should be noted that, currently, more than 820 million people do not eat enough every day.

As we could say, thanks to CO2, the second goal of global sustainable development is met daily: ending world hunger. However, climate change has affected activity in agriculture. The world has become a place of climatic extremes: higher temperature with heat and cold waves, floods or drought, among others. All this implies large losses in production.

Although carbon dioxide helps make production more efficient, it has other consequences that negatively affect the industry as much as climate change. The rapid obtaining of food causes an increase in the synthesis of carbohydrates (starch and sugar) and decreases the concentration of proteins, vitamins and minerals. The latter are essential for the health of the human being.

Most macronutrients are affected by the high concentration of CO2
Macronutrients are all those that supply the body with enough metabolic energy to stay healthy. The most affected are iron and zinc. The lack of the first can lead to anemia, while the second is directly related to the lack of appetite.

Kristie Ebi studies and develops improvements for society, taking into account how climate change affects it. In this way, he states that if the CO2 indices of the 20th century are compared with those of now, the following is concluded: the protein in food has decreased by 10%, iron by 8% and zinc by 5% .

Although this does not seem like a big change, all this directly worsens the health of the world population. Protein detriment, for example, has benefited from the increase in starch in our usual menu, which is less favorable for the body.

As Kristie Ebi determines in her TED2019 talk: “If the presence of CO2 continues to grow, the consequences will be very serious for the health of the human being.” In 50 years, the most affected continents will be Asia and Africa, but experts estimate that more than 125 million people could be damaged around the planet.

The conclusion is clear: “We need to reduce the gases that cause the greenhouse effect now so that we don’t have to worry about the serious consequences in a few decades.”

If you want to know more about how to deal with climate change, don’t hesitate to know the V Sustainable Innovation Initiative that Telefónica has carried out.

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