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Climate change threatening what might be world’s most ubiquitous addictive drug

December 28th, 2017 · No Comments

This guest post is from Pakalolo.

While not thrilled with ‘your luxury is at risk’ climate change discussions ( from skiing to wine to …_, the reality of threats to such luxuries can … or might be able to break through to get (some) people’s attention and, perhaps, (support for) action to reduce climate impacts.) In this case, the title caught my attention — coffee is my one ‘addiction’, with withdrawal symptoms emergent when I don’t have that morning coffee (or that second cup …).

This year will rank as one of the planet’s top five warmest years on record according to new data  from NOAA and NASA.

NASA concludes that 2017 will be the 2nd warmest year on record behind 2016 which in turn removed 2015 from the top spot. Meanwhile, NOAA predicts 2017 will be the 3rd warmest year on record.

The weather we rely on for agriculture is only going to get worse because of our reliance on fossil fuels for energy. We are already seeing increasing droughts and flooding worldwide. The record breaking heat over the decades is a direct result of the greenhouse gas emissions that we pump into the atmosphere every single second.

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Coffee-growing regions around the world (ha = hectares) with proportions of product cultivated via the different methods.

The changing rainfall patterns is seriously impacting the regions where our coffee is grown.The Union of Concerned Scientists writes on what that means for our favorite beverage:

Because coffee varieties have adapted to specific climate zones, a temperature rise of even half a degree can make a big difference. A long-term increase in the number of extreme and unseasonal rainfall events has contributed to lower crop yields that are threatening the livelihood of coffee growers. For example, between 2002 and 2011, Indian coffee production declined by nearly 30 percent.

Additionally, warming has expanded the habitat and thus the range and damage of the coffee berry borer, a grazing predator of coffee plants. This pest is placing additional stresses on all coffee crops, as is coffee rust, a devastating fungus that previously did not survive the cool mountain weather. Costa Rica, India, and Ethiopia, three of the top fifteen coffee-producing nations in the world, have all seen a dramatic decline in yields.

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The declining supply of popular Arabica coffee beans—grown in East and Central Africa, Latin AmericaIndia, and Indonesia—is being felt in the pockets of suburban supermarket shoppers and denizens of city sidewalk cafés.

Brands like Maxwell House, Yuban, and Folgers have increased the retail prices of many grinds by 25 percent or more between 2010 and 2011, in light of tight supply and higher wholesale prices.

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If you’re one of those people who needs a cup of coffee to get going in the morning, your world may be changing. In fact, it already is. The dwindling supply of coffee is but one example of the many impacts to come due to climate change, and should be a wake-up call for us all.

For further reading, Monga Bay reports on shade vs sun grown coffee.

There are two main coffee bean species: Arabica (C. arabica) and robusta (C. canephora). Diseases, in particular by fungi, are difficult to mitigate. Leaf rust is the most common problem and can persist even in crops of high-yielding and disease-resistant beans. The move towards sun-grown coffee is driven in part by the commonly held assumption that sun exposure prevents fungal infections. However, some studies have suggested that shade coffee is better at fighting disease than is sun-grown coffee as canopy cover may cause difficulty in fungal spore dispersal.

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Tags: agriculture · catastrophic climate change · guest post

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