Climate Change Could Kill Coffee: New Study Suggests Extinction of Plant

Catherine Roberts
by Catherine Roberts | November 8, 2012 @ 4:24 pm | 5 

New computer modeling is showing a disturbing forecast for coffee plantations. The study, from the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, United Kingdom, is suggesting that Arabica coffee trees could go extinct. Arabica coffee accounts for 70% of the worlds coffee consumption.

The scientists analysed climate predictions for 2080 and came up with different scenarios  In the best cases, they say the coffee supply will have a 65% reduction. In the worst case, the coffee supply will have a 99.7% reduction. This is based on a number of factors. “The modeling predicted that Arabica [grown in the South Sudan] could be extinct by the year 2020 due to climate change, and this appears to be realistic given the poor health (lack of seedlings, loss of mature Arabica specimens, low frequency of flowering and fruiting) of the remaining populations observed in 2012.”

They also touched on Ethiopia, another major source of Arabica coffee beans. “Optimum cultivation conditions are likely to become increasingly difficult to achieve in many pre-existing coffee growing areas, leading to a reduction in productivity, increased and intensified management (such as the use of irrigation), and crop failure (some areas becoming unsuitable for Arabica cultivation).”

They further say that the rising coffee prices, which are the highest in 30 years, could be in part caused by the climate change. Should we be afraid of a coffee extinction? One commenter, Husky, said what we were thinking. “The demand for coffee is such that it will be even grown in greenhouses on Antarctica.”

Update: This study is referring to the wild Arabica coffee plants and not those in plantations. Intensified farming techniques can overcome changes in local climate. For more information about the study, please visit the links at the bottom of this article.

Are you worried about the rising coffee prices?

Sources: PHYS, Washington Post