Is Coffee Really Going Extinct?



The main source of the drug that might be responsible for the enlightenment may be endangered. While this author in particular was shocked at first to hear this, after some investigating, I wasn’t at all surprised. As it turns out, climate change isn’t just responsible for massive changes in destructive weather patterns, the melting of Arctic ice caps and the rise in global temperatures: it’s also taking out my favorite beverage.

 Wild coffee only grows in the coffee belt between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. As climate change continues, coffee growers will be forced to move their crops into more mountainous areas. Aside from the devastating deforestation this will cause, it also increases the odds of exposure to disease and pests. The crippling fungus known as “Coffee Leaf Rust” infected plants throughout Central America following an unusually hot summer in 2012. The Coffee Berry Borer, a beetle native to the Congo in Africa, has been proliferating its territory wildly and causing widespread destruction to coffee plants.

Another part of the problem is that coffee is already kind of a nightmare in terms of distribution. Overall, coffee already has an enormous carbon footprint, with the shortestjourney a bean makes from plant to consumer in the United States a hefty 1,000 miles. As transportation costs continue to rise, coupled with increasing difficulty of ensuring crop growth and propagation and less arable land for coffee crops to grow, coffee prices will start to increase steadily…and soon.

The human impact, by the way, is hardly as deeply felt as by the laborers who bring in the crops. Over 350,000 laborers lost their jobs after the Coffee Leaf Rust epidemic in Central America. That said, consumers are starting to feel the burn of rising coffee prices already: Starbucks announced over the summer that some of its coffees would see price increases of about $0.30 per cup. And it’s really just going to go up from here.

What can be done? Fortunately, researchers are already checking out territories within the Coffee Belt that may be suitable for the expansion of the needs of the coffee-growing industry. In the meantime, check out these cool ways you can help stop climate change so that we don’t run out of coffee.

IMAGE CREDIT:anpet2000 / 123RF Stock Photo

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