Espresso. Cold brew. Macchiato. Americano. French press. Pumpkin spice latte.
Are you craving coffee yet? It is the most consumed beverage in America, aside from tap water. Many people drink it for an energy boost in the morning, or when they hit the mid-afternoon slump. Much of the world’s coffee crops are grown in tropical areas, but these crops are under serious threat from anthropogenic, or human-caused, climate change. There are three ways that climate change will harm coffee crops: hotter temperatures, longer and more frequent droughts, and changes in the type of pests in the area.
Coffee is a temperature-sensitive crop. Different types of coffee beans survive best in different temperature ranges. For example, the arabica bean, a popular type of coffee bean, grows best in average temperatures between 64-70 degrees Fahrenheit. If temperatures are above 70 degrees for too long, plants will produce fewer beans. This means fewer beans are available to be turned into coffee.
All crops, not just coffee, need water to grow. Droughts are projected to happen more often and last longer in the future as the climate changes. As these droughts strike areas that produce coffee, bean yields will decrease. This, too, means that availability of coffee will decrease. In a world that is warmer and more drought-prone, these two factors will combine to devastate coffee production.
Finally, changes in temperature and precipitation mean changes in the types of bugs and fungi that can live and grow in certain areas. While coffee currently grows in areas with pests and diseases that they are resistant to or tolerant of, this is likely to change in the future. Some of these pests may prefer the warmer conditions that come with climate change. Extreme rainfall after a drought may be prime conditions for certain fungi to invade the area quickly.
All three of these factors together spell trouble for one of the world’s favorite beverages. But remember, there are ways you can help prevent climate change. As the summer starts, consider setting your air conditioner to a warmer temperature, especially as you leave the house for the day. This will help save energy by reducing the amount of fossil fuels being burned and carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. Additionally, this will save you money on your energy bill!
© 2019 Meteorologist Margaret Orr
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