Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Beginning of the End for Coffee?

Production in peril. Coffee may be on the way out.
Is this the beginning of the end of Colombian coffee? That's the suggestion of the Australia-based Climate Institute, which reports that Colombian coffee production will suffer greviously 2050, while the world's wild coffee could be extinct by 2080.

Sacks of Colombian coffee ready to be shipped. 
The Climate Institute is undoubtedly correct that the planet is warming and that will cause devastation in crops around the world, particularly in tropical regions such as Colombia - where coffee now grows best.

Coffee won't end, however. Researchers will develop new varieties, new growing techniques and plant the crop in new regions further north and south. In fact, they're alread planting coffee in southern California.

But those measures won't prevent huge dislocations: What will happen to the millions of small farmers and others who depend on coffee now? They will not be able to migrate to any new coffee-growing regions, because other people already live there. Moving uphill to cooler climes won't solve their problems, either, since mountains shrink towards their peaks. And, as coffee shifts to the north and south, that will mean huge environmental impacts as land is deforested for new plantations.

All these changes will mean a more expensive mug of Starbucks. But that will be the least of our
Colombian coffee employs more than a half-million families,
or 2.7 million people.
problems. Because, if a warming climate alters coffee cultivation, it will also change farming of other more critical food crops. And that could mean famine, migrations, epidemics and other human and natural catastrophes.

Coffee alone supports more than two million people in Colombia, and tens of millions across the globe.

The Climate Institute's advice to drinkers is to purchase carbon neutral or sustainably grown coffee. But that doesn't address the climate change gases generated by coffee's shipment across the world from tropical to wealthy nations. And the coffee economy's impact is only a drop in the barrel compared to the global economy's climate change change gases.

All of which means that to save coffee - as well as many other crops and innumerable wild species - we'll have to fundamentally change the world's economy - fast - and that's not likely to happen in time.

Colombia will suffer badly from global warming. The country is already losing its glaciers, and the city of Cartagena may be transformed into an island, among many other impacts. But none of that has slowed Colombia's own enthusiastic contribution to climate change: Colombians are buying cars and traveling by airplane at a frenzied pace; gasoline and other fuels receive huge subsidies; deforestation is charging along; and the government aims to pull all the oil, gas and coal it can out of the ground.

Colombia is a victim, but also perpetrator of its own suffering.
The climate institute predicts dire consequences for Colombia from global warming.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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