Climate Change Doesn’t Just Affect the Climate…
Climate change- what does that word bring to mind? Most of you will say melting ice, drowning polar bears, and higher temperatures. However, the consequences of global warming go farther than weather. In fact, according to an article in National Geographic, the consequences of climate change even affect… Coffee! Studies show that Wild Arabica coffee could go extinct in 70 years. Thankfully, the coffee most of us drink is made from the cultivated descendants of Wild Arabica. However, the loss of the wild species would leave its cultivated descendants genetically vulnerable to many enemies, which could potentially cause coffee’s quality to drop and have it’s price raise. According to the International Coffee Organization, Arabica is a big part of the coffee industry, accounting for 70% of all global production.
In a world that drinks 1.6 billion cups each day, the prospect probably gives a lot of us the jitters. But a new study led by London’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, warns that, thanks to climate change, the most consumed coffee species, Arabica, could be extinct in the wild by 2080.
Aaron Davis, head of RGB Kew’s coffee research program, led a study that combined field observations and computer modeling to predict how different climate situations could affect the Wild Arabica.The study focused on the origin of cultivated Arabica, Ethiopia, as well as parts of South Sudan. The results of their study was, needless to say, not too good.
The prospects are “profoundly negative,” the study concluded. Even in a best-case scenario, two-thirds of the suitable growing locations would disappear by 2080—and at worst, nearly 100 percent. And that’s factoring in only climate change, not deforestation.
Davis and other researchers visited South Sudan’s Boma Plateau in April, intending to assess the feasibility of coffee production there. Instead, they discovered wild Arabica plants in extremely poor health.
“After a week or so in those forests, we realized that our objective had changed: It became a rescue mission,” Davis said.
The average annual temperature in Eithopia has risen by 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit since 1960. Both wild and cultivated Arabica are very climate sensitive. Studies show that Arabica can only survive in a very small climate range. Coffee is the second most traded global commodity after oil, and the industry employs about 26 million people according to the International Coffee Organization. If the Wild Arabica coffee plant becomes extinct, the whole coffee industry would greatly suffer. So if coffee is an essential part of your life, better stock up now before it’s gone!
Photograph by Jose Miguel Gomez, Reuters