So what do most of us typically think of when we hear the dreaded words, “climate change”? Melting glaciers? Sure. Sea levels rising? Definitely. Greta Thunberg’s death stare boring holes into the back of Trump’s toupee’d head? Absolutely. But brain decline? Um…
A new study published in journal 'Ambio' states that climate change may not only harm the planet but may also adversely affect our brains thanks to the loss of omega-3 fatty acids that support basic human brain development.
Docosahexaenoic acid, known as DHA, is the omega-3 fatty acid essential for human brain function and survival. There is evidence that lacking this essential compound may increase the risk of depression, ADHD, and may worsen the prognosis of dementia-sufferers. Researcher Dr Crawford has stated in a paper published in the journal Nutrition and Health, that the long-term consequences of DHA deficiency can be detrimental for the human race.
Humans, however, (the advanced creatures that we are) are unable to sufficiently produce DHA and must obtain it through our diets, namely by eating fish or taking fish oil supplements. The study reports that if no action is taken against climate change, 96% of the global population won't have access to enough DHA by the year 2100 due to how the climate will affect algae production, which is directly related to DHA.
"In the aquatic food chain, DHA is produced primarily by algae and the biochemical reactions involved in the process are sensitive to slight changes in temperature," the study explained. Although algae will continue to be consumed by fish, they won’t be consuming as much DHA, leading humans to consume fish without as much of the vital nutrient.
"According to our model, global warming could result in a 10 to 58 per cent loss of globally available DHA in the next 80 years," the study reports. "A decrease in levels will have the greatest effect on vulnerable populations and periods of human development, such as fetuses and infants, and may also affect predatory mammals, especially those in Polar regions." Yikes.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. NASA’s climate change initiative states that while it isn’t possible to reverse the harm we’ve already caused our planet, there are measures we can take to prevent further damage. While things like making your home energy efficient, driving fuel-efficient cars and recycling is definitely helpful, NASA notes that more significant changes need to be made. We’re talking major public transport upgrades, sustainable city planning, the whole works. It’s not easy, but it’s doable.
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