Increased Carbon Dioxide Emission Leads to Decreased Nutrients in Crops

Although carbon dioxide emissions can, and are needed to increase plant and crop growth, emissions that are too high can decrease the nutritional value of crops. According to, PLOS Medicine, CO2 decreases the nutritional value of key staple crops, particularly rice and wheat, by lowering concentrations of protein, micronutrients, and B vitamins. Therefore, decreasing greenhouse gases could decrease 48.2% of negative health effects. Additionally, CO2 induced changes in plant chemistry will also have global consequences for all living things who consume plants, including us humans. Rising temperatures of 1 degree Celcius above pre-industrial levels are also expected to have a detrimental effect on crop growth due to increased intensity, duration, and frequency of heat waves.

This lack of nutrients from rising CO2 emission can lead to both malnutrition and can increase toxins in food. This is especially difficult because climate change and severe weather as a result can decrease food production to up to 21 to 35% of staple foods such as rice, soybeans, and wheat. In a study conducted in Japan, Australia, and the US, crops were grown in normal conditions and in experimental plots with CO2 enriched air. The current atmospheric CO2 level wis 400 parts per million. In the enriched plots, it was between 546 and 586 parts per million, “a level scientists expect the atmosphere to reach in four to six decades” (National Geographic). Results found a 9.3% drop in zinc level in wheat which led them to conclude that as CO2 increases, crop nutrients decrease. This result touches upon what is occurring now, and what can occur in the future. The article also touches upon how CO2 emissions peak in May every year, which is the a prime crop growing month. Even if we somehow figured out a way to stop carbon dioxide emission today, the damage already put into the atmosphere will affect us for years.

3 thoughts on “Increased Carbon Dioxide Emission Leads to Decreased Nutrients in Crops

  1. I found a finding in some of the articles I read for my post that were very similar to what you posted about. I read that some areas in developing countries which depend on corn for much of their diet and as a means for revenue are in danger of losing large amounts of their crops due to the increase of global temperature and CO2 levels. It is interesting to think about how the effects of CO2 on crops can impact different countries differently depending on what kind of crops they grow.

  2. I think its interesting that in climate debate, the natural role CO2 plays in our world and ecosystem is under emphasized. Oftentimes CO2 is simply labeled as a Greenhouse gas that is harmful to our planet. While this is true, plants need CO2 to survive and produce oxygen, which we as humans need to survive. I was unaware of the scale in which CO2 levels affected the health and productivity of plants. I suppose the difficult challenge we face is determining how to balance a healthy level of CO2 in the atmosphere, without over-polluting the planet.

  3. This goes hand in hand with what I posted about. and you are absolutely right here. A major unforeseen consequence of the high levels of CO2 being released into our atmosphere is the loss of nutrients in our food. This affects everyone and does not discriminate. Fruits and veggies are grown on our earth no matter how rich or poor you are, everything you eat is a product of the same earth. This issue is so important because it highlights how much the CO2 problem permeates our lives and proves, once again, that the issue is not only about global warming.

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