New Report Details How Climate Change Could Affect How Americans Eat
A recent report from the U.S. Global Change Research Program details how global warming could significantly change the quality of food Americans eat and how they access it.
According to “The Impact of Climate Change on Human Health in The United States: A Scientific Assessment,” instances of food poisoning could increase as food borne illnesses, such as salmonella and E.coli, could increase due to warmer weather. Infectious disease expert William Schaffner explained how:
“With increasing temperatures, the vulnerability of food due to multiplication of pathogens, it’s likely to increase… Pathogens replicate, or multiply, better at warmer temperatures.”
The assessment also details how climate change could affect the nutrient values of food.
Protein content in crops may go down and be replaced by carbohydrates, and sugars could increase due to plants needing less protein for photosynthesis thanks to increased levels of carbon dioxide. In addition, rising sea levels and warmer ocean temperatures could lead to increased mercury levels in seafood.
The report even details how severe weather systems like hurricanes, which will become more frequent because of climate change, could affect food distribution.
The authors state, “The food transportation system moves large volumes at a time, has limited alternative routes, and is dependent on the timing of the growing and harvest seasons. It is likely that the projected increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events will also increase the frequency of food supply chain disruptions.”