Climate Change Threatens Coffee Plants

According to a new study of from the U.K. Royal Botanic Gardens conducted with scientists in Ethiopia, wild Arabica coffee is “in peril” and at “high risk of extinction” because of climate change.

Bloomberg News reported:

Commercially produced arabica is grown from “very limited genetic stock,” meaning plants have little flexibility in coping with climate change and new threats from pests and diseases…Altered weather conditions are likely to have “a negative influence” on coffee output in Ethiopia, Africa’s largest grower.

The Royal Botanic Gardens study used bioclimatic modeling to predict the present and future distribution of indigenous Arabica. Researchers modeled for three emission scenarios (high medium, low) over three time intervals (2020, 2050, 2080).  Modeling showed a “profoundly negative influence” on indigenous Arabica with the most favorable outcomes ranging from 38% to 65% reductions in the number of pre-existing bioclimatically suitable localities for Arabica. Worst case scenarios predicted from 90% to almost 100% reductions by 2080.

Coffee photo via Shutterstock

Written by Jennifer Kaplan

Jennifer Kaplan writes about sustainable food and wine, the intersection of food and marketing and food politics for Insteading (and before the two sites merged) and is the author of Greening Your Small Business. She is an Instructor at the Culinary Institute of America-Greystone and was named one of The 16 Women You Must Follow on Twitter for Green Business. She has four kids, a dog, a hamster, an MFA and an MBA – follow her on Twitter.

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