Please invest in Our Daily Planet today, by making a one time or monthly contribution.
We do not charge our readers a subscription fee for our content. We want to continue to grow our readership, particularly among millennials and public servants. Voluntary contributions from readers will help us employ interns and freelance journalists, expand our content, and reach a larger audience.
Imagine you wake up on a Monday morning, put on your “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee!” T-shirt and head to your local café only to find that they’re out of coffee. It turns out that climate change has caused global coffee production to plummet. You panic; how will you ever get your work done? Or speak to your friends and coworkers? Well, don’t fret; scientists have rediscovered a species of coffee that hasn’t been found in the wild for decades, a species so resilient it could just save the coffee industry from imminent peril. And by some stroke of luck, it might taste even better too!
Why This Matters: The world’s coffee “Bean Belt” is located in regions more vulnerable to the imminent impacts of climate change. Rising temperatures in areas between the Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer in countries worldwide are increasing disease and wiping out insects needed to pollinate coffee plants. Global coffee production supports over 100 million jobs in predominantly lower-income nations. One study found that more than half of the world’s coffee-growing operations, and 88% of Latin America’s, could be rendered unproductive by 2050. The coffee industry has responded relatively well, working with small farms to promote climate adaption and provide seeds, best practices, and production monitoring. Continuing that adaptation means using every tool in their arsenal, and scientists may have found a secret weapon.
Beans, Beans, Beans
Two species of coffee beans currently dominate the world market: Arabica and Robusta, which make up 56% and 43% of global production, respectively. Arabica’s flavor is more highly desired and fetches a higher price, while Robusta is primarily used for instant coffee and coffee blends. But Arabica is far less resilient against high temperatures than Robusta, and Arabica production is expected to plummet by 2050. However, the newly rediscovered Coffea stenophylla is resistant to drought and disease and grows at a mean annual temperature of 76.8 degrees Fahrenheit, 3.42 degrees higher than that of Robusta. Botanist Aaron Davis, leader of the study, said that resilient plants like Stenophylla could help “future proof” the industry. “For the longer term, Stenophylla provides us with an important resource for breeding a new generation of climate-resilient coffee crop plants, given that it possesses a great flavor and heat tolerance,” he said.
“If the historic reports of resistance to coffee leaf rust and drought tolerance are found to be correct, this would represent further useful assets for coffee plant breeding,” he continued. In a taste test by 18 tasting experts, Stenophylla was found to have a “complex flavor profile, with natural sweetness, medium-high acidity, fruitiness, and good body.” Despite these hopeful qualities, scientists haven’t yet hit a home run. Stenophylla is endangered and has only been found growing in the wild in Sierra Leone. Deforestation in the plant’s historical range, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Ivory Coast, further threatens the already minuscule population. Ensuring your morning cup of Joe lands on your desk is more complicated than planting a few seeds, but with good climate adaptation and forest management, the coffee industry can continue to thrive.
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer One of the big headlines out of the European Union’s recently released package of concrete policies to hit climate neutrality was the phase out of diesel and petrol fueled cars by 2035. The proposal plans for charging stations every 60km (about every 37 miles), a massive ramp up in […]
Yesterday, several news outlets reported that the Biden administration will soon propose a return to aggressive Obama-era vehicle mileage standards over five years, after which rules would tighten to encourage 40% of U.S. drivers into electric vehicles by 2030. As the Post and Courrier reported, The proposed rules from the Environmental Protection Agency and Department […]
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Taken together, the European Union’s 27 countries are the #4 carbon emitter globally. The recently released “Fit for 55” package spells out how, exactly, the bloc will go from its current output to hitting its goal of climate neutrality by 2050. One of the biggest proposed changes is an […]
Our Daily Planet is your daily dose of the stories shaping our world and the ways that you can take action. From the climate crisis to the protection of biodiversity, if these issues matter to you then please subscribe & stay informed!
Your privacy is Important! We promise never to use your email address to send you spam or advertisements.