Your Daily Coffee Is About To Get Roasted

Many are familiar with the name Al Gore. The 45th Vice President of the United States of America. Democratic nominee for the 2000 presidential election. Divorcee of his high school sweetheart. 1969 Army enlistee. Well now I’m getting off track. The point is, most have heard the name Al Gore at some point in their lives, whether they lived through his vice-presidential terms, or they have heard his name on the news when topics of climate change are brought up. Regardless, Al Gore was ahead of his time. He argued on the existence of climate change and the obligation we have to bring it under control, even winning the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. However, even now, eighteen years after he served as the Vice President and fought for the country to gain a control on climate change, many still do not believe that climate change is a problem that affects them. Do not get me wrong, many, almost all nowadays understand that climate change is occurring. With scientific facts discovered by NASA being brought up daily like “the planet’s average surface temperature [having] risen about 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century” and “Antarctica [having] lost about 152 cubic kilometers (36 cubic miles) of ice between 2002 and 2005”, there is minimal room for objection. Yet, the issue is whether or not people believe that this climate change is affecting them, and most do not realize how much it does. Coffee drinkers, for example, which make up about “64% of US consumers”, might be the ones affected most by climate change.

The coffee tree, in comparison to other plants, is very particular in where it will grow and flourish. Typically growing between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer, also known as the “Bean Belt”, coffee’s “ideal average temperatures ranges between 15 to 24ºC for Arabica coffee and 24 to 30ºC for Robusta”, “needs an annual rainfall of 1500 to 3000 mm” and “can be grown between sea-level and about 800 meters” according to The Scientific Institute on Coffee. These precise needs of the coffee tree itself had never presented issue before, and considering coffee was discovered centuries ago in ancient Ethiopia, that accounts for many years we have drank coffee without a single thought of its vulnerability to climate change. The problem, like TIME Magazine’s author Justin Worland explained, is that “as temperatures rise and droughts intensify, good coffee will become increasingly difficult to grow and expensive to buy”. Bearing in mind that coffee already has a very specific area in which it can grow, these areas will begin to diminish and disappear as viable options for growing the crop, making the prices of our beloved beverage to get higher and higher. An 11 ounce bag of Starbucks ground coffee is already $6.98 at Walmart. In the coming years as coffee becomes harder and harder to produce and “70 percent of the world’s coffee supply might be gone by 2080” according to Newsweek, that price will increase anywhere to $15 to even $25 per 11 ounce bag of ground coffee.

It isn’t just the daily Starbucks goers, or coffee-buying grocery shoppers that are going to be in peril due to climate change. There are “between 600 million and 800 million people worldwide [who] depend on coffee production for their full or partial daily survival” according to Spilling the Beans. This includes not only the 125 million families involved in coffee growing, but also those who transport, produce coffee-related equipment, brew, and/or serve it. As a result, it is not just coffee consumers who are affected by climate change, it is all the employees and workers who depend on the crop in some way, shape or form in order to make their livelihood. Ediz Tiyansan of TRT World News, interviewed the Perez family in Guatemala, who runs one of the oldest coffee plantations in the area that is experiencing the effects of climate change. Tiyansan explained that “in order to produce as much quality coffee as they [, the Perez family,] can, they hope for ideal weather conditions for their crops which they say are rare these days”. So in order to adapt to the changing environment and climate in their region “Raul [Perez] and his family have to diversify their production by planting new varieties that might better adapt to the lack of rainfall, and they plant these shade trees to try and lower the temperature but they say it is not enough to counteract the effects of climate change on their crops”. Raul and the rest of the Perez family are just some of the 600 to 800 million people who depend on coffee production and are suffering as a result of climate change.

Where the controversy lies is when people do not realize that climate change affects them, hence why they do not do anything to prevent it. The Guardian did a survey and found that “42% of those surveyed believe that Americans are being harmed by global warming right now” but only “22% are very worried about it”. Because people do not believe they are being harmed by climate change, they refuse to do their part to help combat it. It is especially difficult to understand that climate change affects all of us when only “54% understand that it’s mostly human-caused, while 33%… believe global warming is due mainly to natural factors”. Regardless of who or what is the cause of climate change, it is still a problem that affects us all. NASA has proven that sea levels will rise one to four feet by 2100 so we will have to bid ado to our favorite seaside spots like Waikiki, Hawai’i, Key West, Florida, or Venice, Italy. More droughts and heatwaves will occur, paving the way for even more wildfires throughout summer and fall. And of course, some of our favorite foods and beverages like chocolate, avocado, honey, and that energy filled super drink we all love, coffee,  are becoming scarcer as Earth warms.

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2 Comments to “Your Daily Coffee Is About To Get Roasted”

  1. Hi! I really, really enjoyed your take on this article. In today’s news, there are is so much coverage and opinion on climate change that it all begins to sound the same after a while. Yours was different. By addressing one particular audience, a massive one to be more specific, you provided really informative examples of why climate change should still be something that matters to our population. I also like how you mentioned that many people do not realize how climate change affects them, so they are unlikely to do much to prevent it. In your article, you gave people a more personal, immediate reason to care about the well being of our planet, even if it is something as simple as coffee.

  2. great job on this article. I think you made great improvements from your draft. Climate change is something that I am very passionate about and its awesome to see you standing up for it and writing this article. great job

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