It is said that “you are what you eat”. That stands true not only for humans, but for everything that eats. It’s well known that at optimal temperatures and humidity, plants thrive given light and carbon-dioxide. It was considered that one of the perhaps positive effects of global warming would be that plants would grow faster. This self-balancing property of our ecosystem could even contribute to cleaning up our atmosphere, as more plants would eat more CO2. That may very well hold true, if it wasn’t for desertification^.
However, even though plants do thrive thanks to having more carbon-dioxide available, they apparently are not as nutritious. This is an extremely important finding, because, like as the article below points out, “increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is reducing the protein in staple crops like rice, wheat, barley and potatoes, raising unknown risks to human health in the future”:
“Every leaf and every grass blade on earth makes more and more sugars as CO2 levels keep rising,” Loladze said. “We are witnessing the greatest injection of carbohydrates into the biosphere in human history―[an] injection that dilutes other nutrients in our food supply.”
Perhaps we humans can compensate for a diet comprised of less nutritious plants through various supplements, but this doesn’t bode well for our ecosystem and therefore for us. The planet is already adapting to the carbon-dioxide we’ve added into the atmosphere, but there will be [unforeseen] consequences, probably more than we can even imagine.
In closing, here’s a longer quote from the highly recommended article linked above:
Could carbon dioxide have an effect on human health we haven’t accounted for yet? The answer appears to be yes—and along the way, it has steered Loladze and other scientists, directly into some of the thorniest questions in their profession, including just how hard it is to do research in a field that doesn’t quite exist yet.
In agricultural research, it’s been understood for some time that many of our most important foods have been getting less nutritious. Measurements of fruits and vegetables show that their minerals, vitamin and protein content has measurably dropped over the past 50 to 70 years. Researchers have generally assumed the reason is fairly straightforward: We’ve been breeding and choosing crops for higher yields, rather than nutrition, and higher-yielding crops—whether broccoli, tomatoes, or wheat—tend to be less nutrient-packed.
In 2004, a landmark study of fruits and vegetables found that everything from protein to calcium, iron and vitamin C had declined significantly across most garden crops since 1950. The researchers concluded this could mostly be explained by the varieties we were choosing to grow.
Loladze and a handful of other scientists have come to suspect that’s not the whole story and that the atmosphere itself may be changing the food we eat. Plants need carbon dioxide to live like humans need oxygen. And in the increasingly polarized debate about climate science, one thing that isn’t up for debate is that the level of CO2 in the atmosphere is rising.