Increased levels of carbon dioxide could reduce
brainpower. Climate change could affect our ability to think, according to new
research that found link between rising carbon dioxide levels and reduced
cognitive abilities in humans.
Scientists at University College London (UCL) found
that higher concentrations of CO2 reduce memory, impair concentration and lower
decision making capabilities. Their findings add to a growing body of research
into the effect of elevated CO2 levels on brain function. A Harvard study found
that poorly ventilated workplaces could adversely affect employees’ cognitive
A study conducted in China by Yale School of Public
Health found significant reduction in language and mathematics test scores
among participants exposed to polluted air.
It showed language abilities were particularly
affected and that men’s scores suffered more than women’s. However, the effects
of air pollution were most pronounced in elderly people, particularly those
over sixty-four years old.
Earlier this year the Mauna Loa observatory in
Hawaii, part of the national Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),
recorded the highest ever monthly CO2 average of four hundred ten parts per
million in the atmosphere. The observatory’s record shows a thirty percent rise
in CO2 concentrations since atmospheric readings began in 1958.
Almost two hundred countries signed the Paris Agreement
in 2015 to limit greenhouse gas emission to keep the increase in global
temperatures to well below 2ºC above pre-industrial levels, but many are
falling short of the Agreement goals.
The United Nations Environment Programmes latest
Emissions Gap Report warned that global greenhouse gas emission in 2030 will be
far higher than the level targeted to keep global temperatures within 2ºC in
At the current rate of growth, CO2 in the
atmosphere could surpass 45PPM by 2038.
This is expected to have serious consequences for
the planet earth, and also for human health. While the slowing of cognitive
function is only part of that bigger picture, it could have a major impact on
global productivity and innovation.