Is climate change leading to a “great nutrient collapse”, and turning plants into junk food?


Could climate change and global warming be contributing to the obesity epidemic?

It sounds completely crazy, until you read the science. Then, suddenly, it starts making sense. At least it’s an intriguing possibility.

Increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere might “turn plants into junk food”. This by making them grow faster and end up more rich in carbs, but lacking in nutrients like minerals or protein. More sugar, less nutrients. Like junk food.

It actually sounds plausible, once you stop to think about it:

Every leaf and every grass blade on earth makes more and more sugars as CO2 levels keep rising. We are witnessing the greatest injection of carbohydrates into the biosphere in human history – [an] injection that dilutes other nutrients in our food supply.
– Dr. Irakli Loladze

Politico: The great nutrient collapse


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  1. Jason
    Plants love and thrive on carbon dioxide.
  2. Tim
    Must have been high CO2 back in ancient Egyptian times too, they also died from a high carb diet...even if the wheat did have 'higher nutrients'.
  3. Kathleen
    I'd love to see Gary Taubes or Nina Teicholtz take on climate science.
    Reply: #6
  4. Maria
    I think, this makes low carb even more important. We could also do with a few new plants we could eat, no matter if farmed or not.
    Why not eat stinging nettles or tree spinach? At least in my pre-alpine garden they both grow like crazy.
    If anyone had more information on which wild or bred plants are easy to grow/find and are rich in micro nutrients that would be great.
  5. Lorletha
    At first I was sceptical about this topic. Climate change turning food into junk food? What?! But the article gives a valid hypothesis that really needs to be investigated and confirmed. There are other related factors involving our food supply as well, such as nutrient defenciencies caused by depleted soils due to erosion and over use of chemical fertilizers. I see whole system programs such as permaculture correcting not only soil depletion but environment microclimates which could play a major role in affecting positive global climate change. Short answer. We need more trees people!
  6. Ayn
    As Teichholz herself called climate chance a "very important thing" in one of the interviews I can imagine they're not idiots denying the obvious facts...
  7. Jeroen
    There is an interesting climate scientist called Judith Curry. She has testified before congres. Then she realized the projections didn't match reality, she spoke up and is now a "Climate Denier". Sounds familiar? The minute you speak up against the establisment, you get labeled. Those people are always most interesting. The once going against the grain. May I remind you that's how you found this site: going against the main stream...
  8. Kelsey
    Andreas interesting post. Made me read the article in Politico and studies around it. Looks like this is not so much a hypothesis but proven our foods gets worse. What that has to with obesity is an interesting hypothesis I think. eLife Digest says "Loladze argues that these changes might contribute to the rise in obesity, as people eat increasingly starchy plant-based foods, and eat more to compensate for the lower mineral levels found in crops."
  9. Themilkyway
    We have to plant more trees and make more Carbon Sinks to drop CO2 levels, an other things that rely on CO2 to eliminate the high levels of it.
  10. MRS
    Extra CO2 is used by plants to create cellulose, also a sugar that is used in the structure of plants and not digestible by humans. But aside from that, none of these experiments are controlled. This sounds like junk science to me.

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