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Could climate change be the end of coffee as we know it?

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My coffee-loving heart sank as I read the predictions that climate change could damage production of coffee in the future.

A recently published article in the academic journal Plos One by researchers from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, UK and the Environment and Coffee Fores Forum (ECFF) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, concluded that climate change could drastically reduce the areas that are suitable for wild Arabica coffee crops before the end of the century.

Researchers looked at how wild Arabica could be affected based on three scenarios of carbon emission in the future. The worst-case outcome was a 99.7% reduction by 2080, which would lead to coffee being more exclusive than diamonds...

So why is this happening? Due to coming from a very limited genetic stock, the Arabica crops are assumed to be less able to cope with climate change and other threats such as diseases and pests. Some will argue that this is a natural course of events and part of Darwin's 'survival of the fittest' mantra, but - as with pandas - human actions are behind the changes to the environment that has led to this.

Aaron Davis, head of coffee research at the Royal Botanic Gardens, said: "The extinction of Arabica coffee is a startling and worrying prospect. However, the objective of the study was not to provide scaremonger predictions for the demise of Arabica in the wild.

"The scale of the predictions is certainly cause for concern, but should be seen more as a baseline, from which we can more fully assess what actions are required."
Well Mr Davis. We are scared. Very scared. We love our java too much!

[Image source]

Thumbnail via Flickr by Puuiki Beach, creative commons


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