Friday, July 17, 2015

How Climate Change Could Threaten the Nutrition of Millions

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The world already has a hard time properly allocating crucial nutrients to its 7.125 billion residents — and a new study published in The Lancet Wednesday suggests that global warming is only going to increase that challenge.

According to the World Health Organization, zinc deficiency currently impacts a little more than thirty percent of humans across the globe.  An important mineral found in shellfish, red meat, seeds, legumes, and cereal grains, zinc helps the immune system function properly, aids in the creation of proteins and DNA, and plays a crucial role in development and growth in infants.  A lack of zinc in the diet can cause diarrhea, exacerbate malaria and pneumonia, and lead to death.  In fact, zinc deficiency is estimated to cause more than 450,000 deaths in children under the age of five each year, accounting for 4.4 percent of global childhood deaths.

New research, led by Samuel Myers, a senior research scientist at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, suggests that increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere will only make global zinc deficiency worse, putting some 138 million people at risk of malnutrition by the year 2050.
It’s known that the consequences associated with climate change will most heavily impact the poor, but this study widens those consequences beyond sea-level rise and natural disaster response.  When climate change impacts the nutrients of crops, it’s the world’s poor that are most likely to become malnourished.  Those in wealthy countries can supplement their nutrients with animal products, but those in poor countries are often more dependent on plant-based nutrients.

Read more at How Climate Change Could Threaten the Nutrition of Millions

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