How climate change could make our food less nutritious | Kristie Ebi

How climate change could make our food less nutritious | Kristie Ebi

Yogi Berra, a US baseball player
and philosopher, said, “If we don’t know where we’re going,
we might not get there.” Accumulating scientific knowledge
is giving us greater insights, greater clarity, into what our future
might look like in a changing climate and what that could mean for our health. I’m here to talk about a related aspect, on how our emissions of greenhouse gases
from burning of fossil fuels is reducing the nutritional
quality of our food. We’ll start with the food pyramid. You all know the food pyramid. We all need to eat a balanced diet. We need to get proteins, we need to get micronutrients, we need to get vitamins. And so, this is a way
for us to think about how to make sure we get
what we need every day so we can grow and thrive. But we eat not just because we need to, we also eat for enjoyment. Bread, pasta, pizza — there’s a whole range of foods
that are culturally important. We enjoy eating these. And so they’re important for our diet, but they’re also important
for our cultures. Carbon dioxide has been increasing since
the start of the Industrial Revolution, increasing from about
280 parts per million to over 410 today, and it continues to increase. The carbon that plants need to grow
comes from this carbon dioxide. They bring it into the plant, they break it apart
into the carbon itself, and they use that to grow. They also need nutrients from the soil. And so yes, carbon dioxide is plant food. And this should be good news,
of rising carbon dioxide concentrations, for food security around the world, making sure that people
get enough to eat every day. About 820 million people in the world
don’t get enough to eat every day. So there’s a fair amount written
about how higher CO2 is going to help with
our food security problem. We need to accelerate our progress
in agricultural productivity to feed the nine to 10 billion people
who will be alive in 2050 and to achieve the Sustainable
Development Goals, particularly the Goal Number 2, that is on reducing food insecurity, increasing nutrition, increasing access to the foods
that we need for everyone. We know that climate change
is affecting agricultural productivity. The earth has warmed
about one degree centigrade since preindustrial times. That is changing local temperature
and precipitation patterns, and that has consequences
for the agricultural productivity in many parts of the world. And it’s not just local changes
in temperature and precipitation, it’s the extremes. Extremes in terms of heat waves,
floods and droughts are significantly affecting productivity. And that carbon dioxide, besides making plants grow, has other consequences as well, that plants, when they have
higher carbon dioxide, increase the synthesis of carbohydrates,
sugars and starches, and they decrease the concentrations
of protein and critical nutrients. And this is very important for how we
think about food security going forward. A couple of nights ago
in the table talks on climate change, someone said that they’re
a five-sevenths optimist: that they’re an optimist
five days of the week, and this is a topic
for the other two days. When we think about micronutrients, almost all of them are affected
by higher CO2 concentrations. Two in particular are iron and zinc. When you don’t have enough iron,
you can develop iron deficiency anemia. It’s associated with fatigue,
shortness of breath and some fairly serious
consequences as well. When you don’t have enough zinc, you can have a loss of appetite. It is a significant
problem around the world. There’s about one billion people
who are zinc deficient. It’s very important
for maternal and child health. It affects development. The B vitamins are critical
for a whole range of reasons. They help convert our food into energy. They’re important for the functions of many of the physiologic
activities in our bodies. And when you have
higher carbon in a plant, you have less nitrogen, and you have less B vitamins. And it’s not just us. Cattle are already being affected because the quality
of their forage is declining. In fact, this affects
every consumer of plants. And give a thought to, for example,
our pet cats and dogs. If you look on the label
of most of the pet and dog food, there’s a significant amount
of grain in those foods. So this affects everyone. How do we know that this is a problem? We know from field studies and we know from experimental
studies in laboratories. In the field studies — and I’ll focus primarily
on wheat and on rice — there’s fields, for example, of rice that are divided into different plots. And the plots are all the same: the soil’s the same, the precipitation’s the same — everything’s the same. Except carbon dioxide
is blown over some of the plots. And so you can compare what it looks like
under today’s conditions and under carbon dioxide conditions
later in the century. I was part of one of the few studies
that have done this. We looked at 18 rice lines
in China and in Japan and grew them under conditions
that you would expect later in the century. And when you look at the results, the white bar is today’s conditions, the red bar is conditions
later in the century. So protein declines about 10 percent, iron about eight percent,
zinc about five percent. These don’t sound like really big changes, but when you start thinking
about the poor in every country who primarily eat starch, that this will put people
who are on the edge over the edge into frank deficiencies, creating all kinds of health problems. The situation is more significant
for the B vitamins. When you look at
vitamin B1 and vitamin B2, there’s about a 17 percent decline. Pantothenic acid, vitamin B5,
is about a 13 percent decline. Folate is about a 30 percent decline. And these are averages over
the various experiments that were done. Folate is critical for child development. Pregnant women who don’t get enough folate are at much higher risk
of having babies with birth defects. So these are very serious
potential consequences for our health as CO2 continues to rise. In another example, this is modeling work that was done
by Chris Weyant and his colleagues, taking a look at this chain
from higher CO2 to lower iron and zinc — and they only looked at iron and zinc — to various health outcomes. They looked at malaria,
diarrheal disease, pneumonia, iron deficiency anemia, and looked at what
the consequences could be in 2050. And the darker the color in this, the larger the consequences. So you can see the major impacts in Asia and in Africa, but also note that in countries
such as the United States and countries in Europe, the populations also could be affected. They estimated about
125 million people could be affected. They also modeled what would be
the most effective interventions, and their conclusion was
reducing our greenhouse gases: getting our greenhouse gas emissions
down by mid-century so we don’t have to worry so much
about these consequences later in the century. These experiments, these modeling studies did not take climate change
itself into account. They just focused on
the carbon dioxide component. So when you put the two together, it’s expected the impact is much larger
than what I’ve told you. I’d love to be able to tell you right now how much the food you had for breakfast,
the food you’re going to have for lunch, has shifted from what
your grandparents ate in terms of its nutritional quality. But I can’t. We don’t have the research on that. I’d love to tell you how much
current food insecurity is affected by these changes. But I can’t. We don’t have the research
on that, either. There’s a lot that needs
to be known in this area, including what the possible
solutions could be. We don’t know exactly
what those solutions are, but we’ve got a range of options. We’ve got advancements in technologies. We’ve got plant breeding.
We’ve got biofortification. Soils could make a difference. And, of course, it will be
very helpful to know how these changes could affect
our future health and the health of our children
and the health of our grandchildren. And these investments take time. It will take time to sort
all of these issues out. There is no national entity
or business group that is funding this research. We need these investments critically
so that we do know where we’re going. In the meantime, what we can do is ensure that all people
have access to a complete diet, not just those in the wealthy parts
of the world but everywhere in the world. We also individually and collectively need
to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to reduce the challenges
that will come later in the century. It’s been said that if you think
education is expensive, try ignorance. Let’s not. Let’s invest in ourselves, in our children and in our planet. Thank you. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “How climate change could make our food less nutritious | Kristie Ebi

  1. This TED talk is absolute bs. Anyone that believes that mankind has had a large impact on climate change has no clue what they’re talking about. Earth’s climate has always changed…both before humans lived on earth and will continue to change when mankind has long left this beautiful planet. Did anyone else notice that many years ago that these same people used to call climate change…”global warming?” I wonder why they switched from one name to the other?!? Such a curious thing that is. Anyone wish to guess?

  2. If someone needs a better video in the topic:

    And, just saying, this video inst about climate change, it is about the nutricional value impact that more CO2 in the atmosphere is causing in plants


    200.000 new polluters to this planet. Nobody will stop this and oil is used

    more and more. So take your health insurance cards, possessions, money, credit

    cards, language skills, diplomas and fancy titles. In 10 till 12 years you can

    burn it with the rest of this planet

    Further to mention: rising water levels, more CO2 makes quality of food

    production less, climate refugees, war, extreme weather events, extinction of

    plants and animals (humans), oceans will change in chemical way, burning of our woods, drought, diseases,

    plagues, earth quakes, pressure in Earth's crust, maybe rotation of planet,

    human conflicts about food and water and so on ………….


  4. Elephant in the Room – GMO's, toxic pesticides, systemic herbicides, artificial growth additives, Monsanto, Glyphosate……HELLO!

  5. American food pyramid is NOT for everyone. Those who are lactose intolerant should NOT be eating dairy. Even with allergies people say you’re reacting to something harmless but everyone is different and you shouldn’t expose yourself to things that give your body a negative reaction.

  6. Starts with Food Pyramid = immediate thumbs down. The Food Pyramid is the product of the USDA, whose purpose is to promote the consumption of American agriculture. Guess what America grows really well? Corn & wheat! So they are promoted as the basis for a "balanced" diet; to drive demand in the American cash crops. It never had anything whatsoever to do with healthy eating.

  7. Haha where do you find these idiots? 🙂 Make up a problem then "find" the solution. The way people have been controlled by their rulers since beginning of time.
    Lower nutrition has to do with GMO and farming methods where the soil is destroyed. Always what happens when humans try to "fix" nature.
    It just grows more with more CO2. Noone can do antyhing amout climate change. It has been chaning since the birth of the earth. What we can do though is to remove industrial farming and give it back to the people locally. More natural meat and veggies. No GMO:s or "beyond" meat and all that crap that no humans or animals ever evolved on.

  8. these comments are hilarious – gmo`s are bad, organic is the solution to everything, climate change is a fraud…jfc, this is a science channel!

  9. Putin's alt-right trolls have been working overtime targeting science channels lately. It's a waste of time. Anyone capable of understanding what is being said won't be put off by the comments of low-life knuckle-draggers.

  10. I have not watched this video but let me just say from the title (because I have to go to work): Food is already less nutritious than in years past!! Why? Because we don't let the land rest and let the soil re-gather nutrients once it's been sucked out by previous crops. This use to be common practice and for good reason.

    There's a lot of reasons our food is already massively low on Nutrients and not one of them have to do with climate change but rather common negligence in order to turn more profit. Now its convenient to bring up the lack of nutrients and use it as a spin for climate change.

  11. climate change… meanwhile we are destroying our lands and rivers using chemicals to try and make up for the losses in our soils due to negligent care and farming…climate change…get some perspective…

  12. The only way to save our soil is with regenerative agriculture and that requires free-range animal farming. You can support it by eating more grass-finished meat, grass-fed dairy, free range eggs. Eating vegetables/fruits/factory farmed animals and animal products is depleting the soil of its nutrients.

  13. This is one of the most moronic talks I have ever heard. This propaganda is backed up by no evidence at all. Agricultural productivity is way up due to CO2 and the biomass of the earth has increased greatly. There is no evidence that the nutrients in our plants is decreasing. And the artificial test conditions that they used had 5 times as much CO2 as we have in the atmosphere today. Plus the data record shows no increase in weather extremes. That is purely anecdotal nonsense.

  14. Climate change is gradual. Climate manipulation is immediate. Kristie Ebi is just another useful voice for the elite who want to cull the population to 500'000,000 and in the meantime produce angst, fear, panic and depression amongst us. Less nutritive food? Ask Monsanto.

  15. every time i see a TED title these days I have to double check its not the onion. im looking forward to "how climate change could make water less wet"

  16. So she completely overlooked the fact that more CO2 leads to more yield and plant growth, and instead focused on an unproven marginal reduction of some micronutrients in a handpicked selection of foods? How about she extends the graph as 1:30 and shows that CO2 used to be over 2000ppm in the Mesozoic period, and almost 5000ppm in the Paleozoic? Vegetation and animal life thrived in these periods. You know what will certainly harm the poorest in the world? Limiting their access to cheap energy which will trap them in eternal poverty.

  17. We can cool down Venus to Earth temperature in 200 years cheaply with current technology.

    Climate alarmists need to shut the f* up.

  18. Well I think I know where you are taking us and its not good fearmongering to are children is the lowest scrum I've ever seen but I put nothing past you I just can't wait for 8 years to pass and the children you scared to death will see you for what you really are and the good lord will pass his judgment on you in the end that's what really makes me smile…# we do not consent

  19. Loving the very woke comments. Shame I can't say the same about the frightened children, I wonder how long they will be that way.

    Somebody stop this stupid lady.

  20. I’m seriously worried for the next generation. We’re already destroying our planet and who knows what it will be like in 30 years?

  21. Does anyone know what she means with "conditions later in the century" at what CO2 level or after how many years will that take place?

  22. LOL names a whole range of foods, breads, pasta, pizza, all grains, bad, especially gmo and glyphosate. They will stop at nothing. Been single culture soil depleting for decades. The soil is contaminated with chemicals, but co2 is the problem. OMG. Never feed a dog grain, or a human.

  23. Hello, TED Audience,
    If you want to save time, here we have compiled TED talk for you.

  24. Earth is overpopulated! In 1972 there were 3 billion people! Earth needs a major disaster to half our population! Only a miracle can save our planet. And it's not going to happen!

  25. THE SKY IS FALLING, THE SKY IS FALLING!!! You can either a) kill yourself, b) pay more taxes, c) kill the messenger (which in this case might even solve the faux problem…)

  26. This must be funded by Monsanto, Bayer, chemical fertilizers, etc., trying to take the attention off THEM destroying our soils. To discuss this topic without controlling for CHEMICAL FERTILIZERS and PESTICIDES and their effects makes you LOSE this argument. Try again.

  27. Soooo.. meat production has 75% ressources waste.. maybe having 400% more food would be a good idea.
    How about you guys stop wasting everyone's ressources and eat something else.

  28. Since people in the west over eat, is this not an effective weight management plan for an entire population. As developing countries become richer and their diet becomes
    More western, by which I mean what was once a celebratory high calorie meal becomes eaten 3 time plus a day – won’t this get ahead of the curb and mean they remain healthier than the west?

    Now, my comment is absurd, but I hope you understand the subtext.

  29. More propaganda – Don't be concerned with GMO's and the sterile seeds – nothing to do with land management "techniques" – lets all eat food made in test tubes.. One of few studies – oh I'm sure it was.. What these psychopaths want is to stop the excellent increases in CO2 greening the world and greatly expanding the food potential – this is no good – they want less people – 500M at last count.. This Man Made Climate Change terror is complete fraud and criminal.. It is being used to redistribute wealth from the poor to the rich and destroy the sovereign states on the way to One World Control.. pathetic little rich men at work again (still)..

  30. So Henny Penny told Ducky Lucky, "The sky is falling; the sky is falling". And Ducky Lucky told Lucy Goosey, "The sky is falling; the sky is falling". And Lucy Goosey told …. etc. Fortunately, as we remember, they were all eaten by The Fox. The Rational Fox.

  31. This presentation is simple ridiculous. Just like her other study about Seattle's climate and heat waves in hundred years.
    About this video, to me the farming methods outweigh the effect of the extra carbon many times. Until now they were the number one thing to be blamed. Does she mention them? Not at all. The other nonsense that in 10-20 years only the carbon dioxide level was different at those places they examined.

    It is like any religion. You can build career and existence on scaring people.

  32. Yet another threat enters the picture. Climate change, degrading soil, overpopulation, mass extinction wave, micro plastic…and the list goes on and on. The future is starting to look very grim indeed.

  33. "변화의 큰 물결"을 새메시지 닷 컴 (com)에서 읽어보시기를 추천합니다.
    더불어 "인류의 동행자" 를 alliesofhumanity 닷 org (.org)에서 한국어를 선택하여 읽으실 수 있습니다.

  34. They do have the research, but it blows there point they are making out of the water. Every human, animal, plant that is rotting, every fire, every volcano that a rupp's. Release co2 into the atmosphere. How do you acount for that co2. How are you going to remove all the co2 that has been produced all these years. You can't, it all bullshit. I say we just ride it out. When earth don't want use then, it will remove use.

  35. 1. This woman "teaches" at the university of Washington.
    This scares me.
    2. Her completely false hypothesis about co2, is backwards.
    3. Greenhouses ALLWAYS grow better, faster, and more drought resistant plants, because they pump the enclosed environment up to 800 ppm co2, and more.
    4. Earth has averaged 1960 PPM CO2, up untill the KT boundry extinction.
    Since then, it has continually averaged 500 PPM, and lower.
    Consequently, diving into a 35 million year ice age, beginning in the oligocene epoch.
    At the current 400 PPM, Earth is only 220 PPM above the level of photosynthesis failure.
    A CO2 famine.
    5. Someone begin finding out who grants funding to each one of these "scientists", and that will lead you to a "proverbial third antichrist", that is attempting complete economic control of the entire world.
    Do not confuse my use of the term "antichrist".
    It is a figure of speech.

  36. Yet another libtard spewing and living on outdated information convieniently provided by Al GORE. The plants ARE LOVING THE EXTRA CO2 YOU MORONS

  37. Because of this, we should focus on using new agricultural technologies such as vertical hydroponics or aquaponics to maximize food production while maintaining balance with the environment and reducing the resources needed to grow the crops such as water and manpower to harvest them.

  38. Carbon dioxide is plant food. Climate change is affecting plant & crop growth productivity. Quality of animal forage is declining. Green house causing iron and zinc deficiencies. Education is not expensive, ignorance is expensive. #TEDTalk

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