Nutritional deficiency - Climate Relevance - Seeker's Thoughts

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Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Nutritional deficiency - Climate Relevance

How does the carbon dioxide rise in the atmosphere?

The constant rise in carbon dioxide has been increased caused by some of the human activities, particularly  due to the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. 

The burning of fossil fuel increases the quantity of carbon di oxide. Forests work as a natural carbon sink, and due to deforestation, the co2 remains in the atmosphere. 

This increase of CO2 and other long-lived green houses gases in Earth’s atmosphere which is causing the current episode of global warming.

How does it affect the atmosphere and the Earth?
Certain gases in the atmosphere block heat from escaping. Long-lived gases that remain semi- permanently in the atmosphere and do not respond physically or chemically to changes in temperature are described as “forcing” climate change. 

Gases, such as water vapor, which react physically or chemically to change in temperature are  called as “feedbacks”
Water vapor , the most abundant greenhouse gas, but importantly, it acts as a feedback to the climate. 

Water vapor increases as the earth’s atmosphere warms, but so does the possibility of clouds and precipitation, making these some of the most important feedback mechanisms to the greenhouse effect.

Gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect along carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide (CO2)- A minor but very important component of the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide concentration increased more than a third since the industrial revolution began.

Methane – A hydrocarbon gas  is produced both natural sources and human activities, including the decomposition of waste in landfills, agriculture, and especially rice cultivation, as well as waste management associated with domestic livestock. On a molecule -for-molecule basis, methane is afar more active greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, but it is less abundant in the atmosphere.
 Nitrogen oxide – A powerful greenhouse gas produced by soil cultivation practices, especially from the use of commercial and organic fertilizers, fossil fuel combustion, nitric acid production and biomass burning.

Chlorofluorocarbon (CFCs) -- synthetic compounds entirely of industrial origin used in several applications, but now largely regulated in production and release in the atmosphere by international agreement for their ability to contribute to destruction of the ozone layer. They are also greenhouses gases.

How does increasing level of CO2 affect human health?
In general, humans tend to get most key nutrients from plants :63% of dietary protein comes from vegetable source, as well as 81% of iron and 68% zinc. 

It has been shown that higher atmospheric levels of CO2 results in less nutritious crop yields with concentrations of protein, iron, and zinc being 3% to 17% lower when crops are grown in environment where CO2 concentrations are 550 parts per million(ppm), compared with crops grown under current atmospheric conditions, in which CO2 levels are just above 400 ppm

How does India face big crop nutrition defiance due to Rise in carbon dioxide level?
According to the study more than 50 million people in India will be affected. India alone will be the worst affected and could face to all 3 nutritional vulnerabilities that are- Zinc, Iron and protein.
The rise in co2 affects the wheat, rice and legumes and  their supplies of major micronutrients. The worst thing will be that it will affect livestock as well due to low nutrients in food crops. 
The study points out India could be the worst hit by the falling crop quality the world over due to rising carbon dioxide levels, according to study a led by the Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health.
 175 million people could become zinc-deficient and 122 million protein- deficient by 2050 due to rising levels of carbon dioxide from human activity.

The combined geographic impact across the three nutrients is concentrated in some of the poorest regions globally: India, other parts of South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, north Africa and the middle east, and south east India.

India has shown inconsistent gains in the addressing undernutrition and nutritional deficiencies. Despite significant progress in reducing the rate of underweight children since 1990, Indian children still have the fourth worst global weight-for-age scores. The standard measure for underweight is nearly 35% of India children continues to meet the criteria for being underweight, far above the developing countries average of 20%.

According to national family health survey 4, 38.4% Indian children are stunted (low height for age), 21 % are wasted (low weight for height), 7,5 percent are severely wasted and 35,7 % underweight.

A way forward

As the study has shown the current condition of India, there is a need to address the vulnerabilities of rising level of carbon. Radical action is needing to be taken to curb the carbon dioxide level. Government should consider the national family health survey’s report. And should make several policies to tackle such severe problem in the country. Government should emphasise on awareness and give better alternative to the Indian farmers and introduce them with new technology so that they can find a better way despite burning fossils and other activities which are the reason of rising level of carbon dioxide in the environment.