A groundbreaking study, released May 7th in Nature by the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) anticipates that if current trends continue, by 2050, elevated levels of atmospheric CO2 will cause many crops around the world to produce a reduced amount of nutrients- notably iron and zinc.
“This study is the first to resolve the question of whether rising CO2 concentrations—which have been increasing steadily since the Industrial Revolution—threaten human nutrition,” said Samuel Myers, research scientist in the Department of Environmental Health at HSPH and the study’s lead author.
This is notable since an estimated two billion people suffer from zinc and iron deficiencies, according to HSPH, resulting in a loss of 63 million years of life annually from malnutrition. These health effects are the most significant threat ever shown to be associated with climate change.
“Humanity is conducting a global experiment by rapidly altering the environmental conditions on the only habitable planet we know. As this experiment unfolds, there will undoubtedly be many surprises. Finding out that rising CO2 threatens human nutrition is one such surprise,” said Myers.
Read the whole study here.