The Grapevine

Earth May Soon Lose Important Omega-3 Fatty Acid Due To Global Warming

The world may soon lose the majority of its sources of important omega-3 fatty acid. That is because of the effects of global warming and researchers warned it may have a significant impact on the global population. 

The warning comes from a new study that analyzed how increasing temperatures could damage the aquatic food chain and fishing zones across the globe. Results suggest that by 2100, 96 percent of all people worldwide may not have sufficient access to natural omega-3 fatty acid.

Global warming would significantly cut supply of Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). It is the most abundant fatty acid found in mammals' brains, which help in neural development, neuroprotection, cell survival and inflammation. 

However, humans naturally lack enough amounts of DHA. The body takes the needed additional nutrient through food consumption, mainly from fish and other seafood.

But the new study, published in the journal Ambio, found that humans and other mammals are at risk of losing its sources of DHA because of the effects of global warming. The rising temperatures could harm marine life, reducing supply from fishing zones worldwide. 

For the study, researchers analyzed the Sea Around Us project database, which includes fisheries data, to predict global annual production of DHA. The team also looked at data from the United Nations for global inland fisheries catch and aquaculture production.

To see the potential impacts of global warming, they used scenarios outlined in the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The researchers then added fisheries data to global warming scenarios to create a mathematical model showing the future availability of DHA. They found that if current temperatures continue to rise,  domestic fish production would see a significant decrease in omega-3 fatty acid. 

This would affect communities in countries with large and growing population. At risk nations include those in East and South-East Asia, such as China, Indonesia and Japan, and most countries in Africa. 

The lowest levels of DHA occurred in countries that rely on freshwater fishing zones than the oceans. 

"According to our model, global warming could result in a 10 to 58 percent loss of globally-available DHA in the next 80 years,” the researchers said. “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."

Climate change Pictured: A dead fish lies in the sand at the San Luis Reservoir July 16, 2007 in Gustine, California. David Paul Morris/Getty Images