Thursday 18 January 2018

Coffee could be on its way out - global warming is now affecting your cuppa

That morning latte could soon be a thing of the past Stock photo: Depositphotos
That morning latte could soon be a thing of the past Stock photo: Depositphotos

Emma Mills

Coffee, one of the world's most-beloved drinks, could become extinct by 2080 if global warming continues to worsen, according to a report by The Climate Institute.

It is expected that half of the world's coffee-farming land will no longer be suitable for plantation by 2050 due to increasing temperatures, fungi and pests. It is also predicted that wild coffee varieties, such as Arabica, could become extinct within the next 70 years unless climate change is tackled.

The decline in production will not only affect coffee lovers worldwide but also affect the livelihoods of around 120 million people in more than 70 countries that depend on the industry.


Consumers are also likely to see an impact on flavour, aroma and prices as coffee becomes more scarce.

It's not just rising temperature that are affecting crops; climate change has paved the way for fungi, such as coffee leaf rust, to attack crops.

In 2012, Central America was hit by a wave of the fungus which caused a drop in production of around 2.7 million bags, affected 350,000 jobs and cost $500m.

The fungus is still spreading and was recently reported in mountainous areas of Columbia, where it was previously too cool for it to survive.

A pest known as the coffee berry borer, which is usually found below 1,500 metres above sea level, has also spread upwards, harming previously safe plantations. On Mount Kilimanjaro, the borer is now found nearly 1,000 feet higher than it was in the last century.

A warming of just one or two degrees could see this insect's population explode and have a devastating effect on agriculture.

Jim Hanna, sustainability director for Starbucks said: "What we are really seeing as a company as we look 10, 20, 30 years down the road - if conditions continue as they are - is a potentially significant risk to our supply chain.

"If we sit by and wait until the impacts of climate change are so severe that it is impacting our supply chain, then that puts us at a greater risk."

In the next few decades, there is likely to be a dramatic shift in coffee production, farmers may move away from the equator and head further up mountains where they could clash with other landowners or affect forests.

Irish Independent

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