High CO2 Levels Make Rice Less Nutritious, Study Finds
Research published Wednesday in Science Advances found that rice grown with the higher atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations expected by the end of this century was less nutritious, signaling bad news for the more than two billion people who rely on the grain as their primary food source, a University of Washington (UW) press release published in EurekAlert! Reported.
"Rice has been a dietary staple for thousands of years for many populations in Asia and is the fastest growing food staple in Africa," study co-author and Director of the UW Center for Health & the Global Environment Kristie Ebi said in the release. "Reductions in the nutritional quality of rice could affect maternal and child health for millions of people."
The team of researchers from China, Japan, Australia and the U.S. conducted a field study in China and Japan of 18 strains of rice. They confirmed previous studies showing that the higher levels of carbon dioxide expected by 2100 decreased the amount of zinc, protein and iron found in rice. They also discovered for the first time that the higher carbon dioxide levels also decreased the amount of B1, B2, B5 and B9 vitamins, which are important for helping people get the most energy from their food.
Overall, average B1 levels decreased by 17.1 percent, average B2 levels by 16.6 percent, average B5 levels by 12.7 percent, average B9 levels by 30.3 percent, average iron levels by 8 percent, average zinc levels by 5.1 percent and average protein levels by 10.3 percent.
Researchers said that the lowered nutritional content of rice is most likely to impact the 600 million people, mostly in Southeast Asian countries, who rely on rice for more than 50 percent of their energy and protein intake. The region is already projected to be especially vulnerable to climate risks such as extreme weather and sea level rise. A 2018 ranking by HSBC of the nations most vulnerable to climate change found that half of the top ten were in South or Southeast Asia, The World Economic Forum reported. This study adds another worry.
"This is an underappreciated risk of burning of fossil fuels and deforestation," Ebi said.
Rice nutrition will also have a greater impact on people living in countries with lower Gross Domestic Products (GDPs), since people tend to diversify their diet as their country's GDP improves. Lowered nutrition could increase the risk of malaria, stunting and diarrhea in impacted populations, the study found.
The study complicates the idea that carbon dioxide will increase plant growth. "People say more CO2 is plant food—and it is. But how plants respond to that sudden increase in food will impact human health as well, from nutritional deficits, to ethno-pharmacology, to seasonal pollen allergies—in ways that we don't yet understand," study co-author and U.S. Department of Agriculture researcher Lewis Ziska said in the release.
He further told The Guardian that more research was needed to assess the impact of increased carbon dioxide levels on the nutritional content of other crops.
"Many important cereals like wheat as well as staples like potatoes may be impacted by this as well," he said.
The researchers said it might be possible to select for strains of rice that resisted the nutritional effects of increased carbon dioxide, but that this would take time. Another possibility would be to nutritionally enrich the rice with special fertilizers or enhancements after harvest and to educate impacted populations of the need to supplement their diets as carbon dioxide levels rise.
Why Climate Change Is Worsening Public Health Problems https://t.co/fA6gJI3k1H #climatechange #publichealth @NRDC… https://t.co/RbQYlSoC6u— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1516985903.0
Many people shop online for everything from clothes to appliances. If they do not like the product, they simply return it. But there's an environmental cost to returns.
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By Dolf Gielen and Morgan Bazilian
John Kerry helped bring the world into the Paris climate agreement and expanded America's reputation as a climate leader. That reputation is now in tatters, and President-elect Joe Biden is asking Kerry to rebuild it again – this time as U.S. climate envoy.
Energy Is at the Center of the Climate Challenge<p>The <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/1/" target="_blank">effects of climate change</a> are already evident across the globe, from <a href="https://theconversation.com/100-degrees-in-siberia-5-ways-the-extreme-arctic-heat-wave-follows-a-disturbing-pattern-141442" target="_blank">extreme heat waves</a> to <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/12/" target="_blank">sea level rise</a>. But while the challenge is daunting, there is hope. Solar and wind power have become the <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2020/Jun/Renewable-Power-Costs-in-2019" target="_blank">cheapest forms of power generation globally</a>, and technology progress and innovation continue apace to support a transition to clean energy.</p><p>In the U.S. under a Biden administration, long-term national climate legislation will depend on who controls the Senate, and that won't be clear until after two run-off elections in Georgia in January.</p><p>But there is no shortage of <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2020-biden-climate-change-advice/" target="_blank">ideas for ways Biden</a> could still take action even if his proposals are blocked in Congress. For example, he could use executive orders and direct government agencies to tighten regulations on greenhouse gas emissions; increase research and development in clean energy technologies; and empower states to exceed national standards, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-emissions-california/defying-trump-california-locks-in-vehicle-emission-deals-with-major-automakers-idUSKCN25D2CH" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">as California did in the past with auto emission standards</a>. A focus on a just and equitable transition for communities and people affected by the decline of fossil fuels will also be key to creating a sustainable transition.</p><p>The U.S. position as the world's largest oil and gas producer and consumer creates political challenges for any administration. U.S. forays into European energy security are often treated with suspicion. Recently, France blocked <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/frances-engie-backs-out-of-u-s-lng-deal-11604435609" target="_blank">a multi-billion dollar contract</a> to buy U.S. liquefied natural gas because of concerns about limited emissions regulations in Texas.</p><p>Strengthening cooperation and partnerships with like-minded countries will be critical to bring about a transition to cleaner energy as well as sustainability in agriculture, forestry, water and other sectors of the global economy.</p>
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<div id="da98c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="478a197b7c59c92787c92bec92f1ac39"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1331662923710693376" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Bristol Bay forever, Pebble mine never. #NoPebbleMine #SaveBristolBay https://t.co/CBQ9zuy8A5</div> — Save Bristol Bay (@Save Bristol Bay)<a href="https://twitter.com/SaveBristolBay/statuses/1331662923710693376">1606328156.0</a></blockquote></div>
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