Saturday, April 09, 2016

Hidden cost of climate change is unwanted carb boost in food

I am no botanist, though it was my favorite High School subject, but I know enough to suspect some very dubious botany below. I have already pointed out the flaw in the story about plant stomata and I can't help laughing about the alleged perils to food plants of a slightly raised level of atmospheric CO2.

Why?  Because if it really were a hazard we should all be dead.  And why is that?  Because a lot of our vegetables these days are grown in greenhouses.  And what is the first thing a greenhouse owner does to boost his crops?  He pumps the CO2 level in them up to around 1,000 ppm, more than double what is in the outside air.  Yet somehow our health seems to have survived that awful "threat"!  Warmists do talk an incredible amount of shit.  It gets very wearing after a while

And for decades we were told by the health freaks that carbs were good and fats were bad.  The balance of opinion now seems to be the exact opposite of that but who knows the truth of it?  The various instances of people living happily on very limited diets suggest that the human body is very flexible and forgiving in what it needs to maintain health

And I am not even happy with the first sentence below.  The increase in CO2 levels halted completely last year.  Did all our factories close down for the year or is the increase in CO2 mostly natural?  Proxy studies into the remote past certainly show great natural variations in CO2 levels and even today CO2 emissions vary seasonally

Is that enough skepticism for now?

UPDATE:  My suspicions about bad botany were right. We read here that "Low protein in cereal grains is indicative of poor nitrogen supply to the grain during the grain fill period".  CO2 is not even mentioned.  Did I mention that Warmists talk an incredible amount of shit?

WE ARE undoubtedly pumping ever more carbon dioxide into the air. But did you know that this also silently adds unwanted carbs to bread, cereals and salad and cuts vital protein and mineral content?

This nutritional blow is now worrying the world’s most powerful nation. For the first time it forms a key finding in an official report on the health impacts of climate change in the US, drawn up by the Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) and unveiled by the White House this week.

Why would more CO2 mean poorer food? Photosynthetic organisms, such as plants, are the carbohydrate factories of the world. They convert CO2 and water into gigatonnes of starch and sugars every year. And every year since the industrial age began, we have steadily fed them more CO2.

Plants respond by building more carbohydrates but less protein into tissues. This means a higher ratio of carbs to protein in plants, including key crops such as wheat, rice and potato. This is a double whammy: protein deficiency afflicts the developing world, while excess carbohydrate consumption is a worry in the obesity-riven developed world.

This is not the only nutritional impact. To capture CO2, plants open pores in their leaves. These stomata let in CO2 but allow water out: plants compensate by sucking moisture from the soil. Transpiration, as this process is called, is a major hydrological force. It moves minerals essential for life closer to the roots, nourishing plants and ultimately us. But plants respond to high CO2 by partially closing stomata and losing less water. This reduces the flow of nutrients to roots and into plants. Less minerals but more carbs creates a higher carbs-to-minerals ratio in crops and food.

In an elevated CO2 world, every serving of bread, pasta, fruits and vegetables delivers more starch and sugar but less calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, protein and other vital nutrients. Over a lifetime, this change can contribute to weight gain.

Hidden hunger – the result of diets rich in calories but poor in vital nutrients – was mainly a developing world problem. But in 2002, New Scientist predicted that “elevated CO2 levels threaten to bring the… problem to Europe and North America”. Scepticism made it difficult to secure funding for testing this prediction and slowed progress by a decade.

However, the conclusion is now unequivocal: rising CO2 depletes protein and minerals in most food that underpins human nutrition across the world.

Sceptics like to claim that rising CO2 is a boon because it boosts crop yields. But as US Department of Agriculture scientist Lewis Ziska put it “elevated CO2 could be junk food” for some plant species.

There really is no such thing as a free lunch with climate change.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

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