“In Ethiopia and all over the world really, if we do nothing there will be less coffee, it will probably taste worse and will cost more,” Dr. Aaron Davis, one of the report’s authors, explained to the BBC.
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From 1980 to 2016, coffee consumption has doubled, and for the third year in a row, the amount of coffee consumed has far outpaced the amount that can be produced, especially since the areas where coffee is grown are continuing to shrink. The only thing preventing a spike in coffee prices is a stockpile “accumulated during high production years,” according to the BBC.
The cause for the most concern is what will happen to coffee in the long term: Experts say that the effects of climate change over time, including the Earth’s rising temperatures, pose the greatest threat to the coffee supply, especially as demand continues to increase.
As the BBC reports, one study from Kew Gardens predicts that the area where coffee is grown in Ethiopia could shrink by at least 55% in the next one hundred years. The researchers stress that the only way to avoid this massive loss of land would be to enact forest conservation efforts.
The new study in Nature Plants concludes that climate change may damage the landscape where coffee is grown in Ethiopia so severely in the coming years that there may be no way to rescue it. NPR reports that one solution might be to try to move coffee farms to higher altitudes or to already deforested areas that would be suitable for the crop and benefit from the added plant life.
The situation isn’t much better in another major coffee producing state, Brazil, where a drought that began almost a century ago has continued to harm coffee crops.
Regardless of whether or not any of us to live to see the world’s coffee supply run out, climate change’s disastrous effects on not only the life of this plant, but the livelihood of the people who farm it, is food for thought next time you pick up your morning coffee.
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