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Ear to the Ground

Thanks to Climate Change, You May Have to Kiss Coffee Goodbye

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Posted on Feb 26, 2014

@Doug88888 (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)


Savor your morning cup of joe. If things continue the way they are, a day may come when coffee is nothing but a distant memory. Due to the worst drought in Brazil’s history, worldwide coffee prices have already risen but climate change won’t stop at that.

And just when science finally confirmed that the caffeine-filled brown liquid is good for you.

Slate:

The world is not going to run out of coffee next week. Analysts still estimate an increasingly tight global coffee surplus of less than 1 percent of total production through the remainder of the year. But the Brazilian drought is causing a significant pressure on global supplies, and when coupled with burgeoning demand from increasingly affluent consumers in Asia (and Brazil itself), that means prices are surging and that surplus could quickly become a shortage if the drought continues to intensify. Arabica coffee futures are up more than 50 percent in just the last two months in response.

The current run on coffee is an example of the kinds of follow-on effects to be expected as the climate warms and rainfall patterns become more erratic. The ongoing lack of rainfall, coupled with record high temperatures across the whole of southeast South America during the current Southern Hemisphere summer, is just the kind of extreme weather event that’s been becoming more common over recent years. In an era of scientific consensus that we humans are doing this to ourselves, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Back in 2011, Starbucks’ head of sustainability Jim Hanna called increasingly extreme weather linked to climate change a “potentially significant risk to our supply chain.” But Brazil’s government—much like ours here in the United States—seems to have its head stuck in the sand on what to do about it.

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—Posted by Natasha Hakimi

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