A web search for "coffee going extinct" finds many articles, e.g. in Business Insider, Aug. 30, 2016, A coffee shortage is looming — here's how soon it could be extinct.
the global coffee supply is currently at risk, with shortages already starting to affect the world.
half of the world's area that's deemed suitable for growing coffee will be lost by 2050 if climate change remains unchecked, according to a new report from The Climate Institute of Australia.
By 2080, the report estimates that wild coffee (which helps us find genetic varietals that might be more resistant to climate stress) could go extinct.
Temperature and heavy rain have helped a fungus called Coffee Leaf Rust spread through Central America and into South America, destroying crops. Pests like the Coffee Berry Borer are spreading for the same reasons.
Even a half a degree of temperature change can make a region that used to be a coffee gold mine unsuitable. Moving production to higher altitudes is not always feasible and can be especially difficult for the small farmers that make up 80-90% of coffee growers.
By 2050, half of currently suitable land will no longer be suitable, unless the world can limit warming to the 1.5-2 degree Celsius rise that was set as a goal at the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement, and really, even 1.5 degrees is pushing it for most farmers.
From the report:
- Over 120 million people in more than 70 countries rely
on the coffee value chain for their livelihoods.
- Many countries where coffee exports form a main
plank of the economy are also amongst the most
vulnerable to climate risk.
- Crop adaptation strategies include developing more
resilient production systems, diversifying crops,
and shifting plantations upslope. The global trend,
however, is towards intensification as producers
seek to lift yields at the expense of more complex
and carbon-rich landscapes. Ultimately, climate
change is likely to push many producers out of coffee
Time Magazine, Nov. 16, 2012, Coffee Under Threat: How Wild Arabica Could Go Extinct.
Coffee grown on commercial plantations, like many other crops grown to produce high yields, lack genetic diversity — and are thus highly susceptible to disease. Wild Arabica, which makes up just 5% of Ethiopia’s coffee crop compared to other kinds of coffee, is thought to account for over 98% of the coffee bean’s gene pool and has an estimated value to the coffee industry of almost $1.5 billion per year.
If disease or climate change causes a die-off of commercially grown Arabica, it’d still be possible to re-engineer it from a wider genetic pool — which is why wild Arabica is so precious.
Also see BBC Magazine, May 24, 2015, Saving coffee from extinction.
The world might need to deploy climate engineering (CO2 removal or solar radiation management) in addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit the impact on food, water, and economic security.