There are few things more universal than coffee. Visit any location in the entire world, and you’re likely to encounter coffee in some form or fashion. In westernized civilizations coffee has become more of a necessity good than a luxury. In countries like America, fueled by the 40 hour work week, coffee has become the fuel refreshing and invigorating seemingly without end. Seemingly.
The effects of global warming, while still being debated by some, are becoming more prevalent every day. Soon naysayers will be obliged to recognize our reality, unfortunately some will not heed warnings until its hits them in their cup. Across the globe, coffee farmers are finding it ever more difficult to produce substantial yields. Sadly, like most problems caused by global warming there are great consequences but few solutions.
The most prevalent threat to coffee crops is a deadly fungus known as coffee rust. Coffee rust is a parasitic fungus that feeds off the coffee tree, leaving yellow splotches on that ultimately prevent photosynthesis, which deprives the plant of the carbon dioxide it needs to live. In the past, South American countries have been able to dodge the threat of coffee rust by growing on their crops at higher altitudes, where lower temperatures acted as a deterrent to the fungus. However, global increases in temperatures, and unusual increases in rainfall have made even higher altitudes the perfect spawning ground for coffee rust. Scientists have attempted to create coffee rust resistant plants, but have been astonished by coffee rust’s ability to out-evolve coffee plants
Rising Temperatures & Droughts
Coffee plants are very delicate organisms. They can only be grown in specific conditions, primarily temperate climate. Slight increases or decreases in temperature are extremely detrimental to health of coffee crops. The same temperature increases that have allowed coffee rust to flourish also ends up killing many of the plants the manage to avoid coffee rust. Additionally, unusual weather patterns have produced dismal precipitation resulting in droughts and thus making it impossible for coffee plants to reach the harvesting stage.
Coffee’s Other Natural Threats
Threats to coffee, beyond the ravenous coffee rust fungus. Coffee plants also threats from the likes of Coffee Berry Disease (CBD) and Bacterial Blight. Coffee Berry Disease is a fungus that attacks the coffee berries. Normally, farmers spray their plants with pesticides during the rainy season to prevent infection. However, once again, due to abnormal weather patterns farmers are often plagued by unexpected rainfall, leaving them unable to spray and making their crops easing pickings for the CBD.
Bacterial Blight is as it’s implies, is a bacterial infection that can affect all parts of the coffee plant. One of the most common types of plant bacterial infections. The rate of infection of coffee plants has been exacerbated by abnormal increases in rainfall.
More Bitter Coffee
Most true coffee connoisseurs know that between Arabica and Robusta coffee beans, Arabica produces the more flavorful coffee. Regrettably Arabica plants are fragile plants, thus more susceptible to changes in climate, fungal and bacterial attacks. Some farmers have been forced to switch from growing Arabica to Robusta making the amount of traded Arabica much lower than its it’s been, despite increasing demand.
So what’s a coffee drinker to do now? Wait and hope. Scientist all over the world are for the first time are actually investing money, time and effort in researching coffee plants, how they grow, and what can be done to prevent their future extinction. Until then, cherish every cup of coffee like it’s your last, because very soon that could become reality.