In a world where we drink 1.6 billion cups of coffee per day, does gives you the shivers the following perspective???: A new study by the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew in London, warns that because of climate change, species of the coffee consumed in the world, Arabica,Robusta, could disappear from their natural habitats by 2080, according to National Geographic.
The study refers to wild coffee plants, while what we drink from our cup is made from „descendants” their objects. However, the wild crop losses genetically invulnerable properties,before a series of enemies, which eventually could lead to a higher price and a lower quality final product.
„History is rich Arabica incidents diseases, parasites or bouts of productivity and growers have always returned back to the wild and use genetic diversity to solve them,” said Aaron Davis, head of the research program of the GBR coffee Kew.
There are only two main types of coffee grown, Arabica (which comes from wild plant Arabica) and Robusta (derived from Caffe canephora). But, there are over 125 species in the wild, says Davis, who worked in the coffee plant research for over 15 years.
Arabica coffee uncertain future
According to the International Coffee, Arabica coffee is the backbone of the industry, accounting for 70% of global production.
The new study, led by Davis combined field observations and computer models to project how different climate scenarios could affect wild Arabica coffee plant. The study focused on Ethiopia, birthplace of Arabica coffee grown and the largest producer of coffee in Africa and the southern Sudan.
The study concluded that the outlook is „deeply negative”.
Even in the best case, two thirds of the corresponding growth habitats will disappear by 2080, and in the worst case, almost 100% of these areas will no longer exist. And these results are consequences triggered by one factor – climate change – without being taken into account deforestation.
Conservation in seed banks
Davis and other researchers visited the Boma Plateau in southern Sudan in April, with the intention to assess the feasibility of coffee production there. Instead, they found that wild Arabica plants were in a very poor state of health.
The study recommends that copies of the Boma Plateau be stored in seed banks as soon as possible because the species could disappear by 2020.
Normally, Arabica grows in upper areas of vegetation on tropical mountains, explains botanist Peter Raven. Because such species already living on the edge ecosystem where plants have not „go” when temperatures rise.
„Most coffee production worldwide will be threatened as climate change,” added Raven.
In Ethiopia, the third largest producer of Arabica, the average annual temperature has risen by 1.3 degrees Celsius from 1960. Previous studies have established that both wild Arabica and the cultivated, are very sensitive to climate, managing to flourish and grow only in a narrow range of temperatures.
„So even if you do some simple calculations, not too much data is needed to understand that there is an inherent threat to these species because of accelerated climate change. The logical conclusion is that coffee production will be adversely affected. ”
Call to action
Davis says that the aim of this study is not to scare people, but rather to inspire the idea of action.
„We are trying to understand: If we do nothing, what will happen? What can we do now on this issue? „Says Davis. „If we are proactive we can avoid a critical situation.”
The study identifies several „core sites” where wild Arabica could survive until 2080, and it is recommended that these areas be the main objectives for preservation.
Conservation activities have helped other species to avoid extinction, so Davis is optimistic „about the future of wild coffee”.
But Raven sees more empty side of the glass. He says that „no matter what measures are taken in kind, we can say with certainty, and at the same time sad that the genetic diversity of these populations is on a slope decreasing year after year.” „Seeds from the most valuable species of genetically should be stored now, before it’s too late.”
Another taste of coffee?
Robust coffee louder domesticated in the 19th century, as a response to leaf rust epidemic that decimated crops of Arabica from South East Asia, is used especially in stronger drinks such as espresso and coffee Turkish. Robusta can grow at lower elevations and at higher temperatures, so in a sense, is better prepared to cope with climate change.
„I can guarantee that most consumers will not be happy to just drink Robusta. As the name suggests, this type of coffee is quite strong. Most people are delighted with its taste, not to mention the fact that it has twice as much caffeine than Arabica. It just is not the same product. If we lose Arabica think large segments of the coffee market will disappear, „explains Davis.
Such a change could cause severe economic shock: Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world after oil and related industries of this product are about 26 million people.