Culture 3 min read

Coffee At Risk of Extinction Due to Climate Change

A new study has revealed that climate change effects could lead to as much as 60% of the world's coffee species disappearing.

A new study revealed that coffee may be extinct in just a few years. | Image By funnyangel | Shutterstock

A new study revealed that coffee may be extinct in just a few years. | Image By funnyangel | Shutterstock

Coffee consumption is currently at an all-time high in the United States. According to a 2018 survey, 62 percent of Americans age 18 or over said they had a cup of coffee the previous day. But that could change soon.

A recent study revealed that about 60 percent of the world’s wild coffee species are at risk of extinction due to climate change.

Aside from causing deforestation and drought, the rising global temperature encourages the spread of fungal pathogens and other plant diseases. This prevents coffee species from growing where they used to thrive.

Although measures exist to protect these coffee species, it may not be enough. Researchers at the Royal Academic Garden revealed that the current conservation measures could not ensure the long-term future of the species. In other words, extinction could be inevitable.

Aaron P. Davis, a senior researcher at the Royal Academic Garden, told CNN that some coffee species could become extinct within 10 to 20 years. This is especially true if issues like human encroachment, deforestation, and climate change persist.

Since coffee plants only grow in a specific habitat, the conditions affected by climate change could prevent the plant from growing in places it once thrived, Davis added.

Out of the 75 coffee species currently threatened with extinction, the researchers labeled 13 of them as “critically endangered.” These include the most popular commercial coffee species in the world, Arabica, and Robusta.

A previous study already shows that Arabica could become extinct within the next 60 years.

Read More: Coffee-Based Biofuel Now Powering London Buses

How to Save the Coffee Bean

As dire as the situation seems, there could be a way out. According to Davis, specific tropical countries must take deliberate actions to curb the growing threat.

Not only is targeted action urgently needed in Africa but in specific deforested areas such as Ethiopia that are being stricken by climate change.

Ethiopia is the natural birthplace of wild Arabica and Africa’s largest coffee exporter. In 2016, Ethiopia earned $866 million exporting 221,000 tons of coffee. However, the country’s good fortune could change soon.

Computer modeling revealed what the researchers described as a “bleak future” for Arabica. The species’ natural habitat could reportedly decrease by as much as 85 percent by 2080.

In response to the growing threat, Ethiopia created three new protected areas specifically for the wild coffee Arabica, said Davis.

The senior researcher further explained that keeping coffee seeds alive in storage banks is more difficult compared to other plants. As such, it may not be a good idea.

Instead, we should focus more on saving the natural environment.

According to Davis, we must start by conserving the coffee species in the wild. More efficient management of protected areas can help achieve this.

Your morning cup of Joe isn’t going to disappear tomorrow, but in just a decade serious shortages could lead to the world’s favorite hot beverage becoming a thing of the past.

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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