While others are busy investigating how global warming will impact on marine wildlife, a team of specialists working with the Royal Botanic Gardens, UK has recently decided to look into how climate change will affect naturally occurring populations of Arabica coffee plants worldwide.
Their findings are quite troubling, especially for those who enjoy their daily dose of caffeine: by the end of the century, it is quite likely that wild Arabica coffee will become extinct.
Scientists explain that, unlike other types of coffee plants, Arabica coffee is significantly more climate sensitive, meaning that it has a hard time adjusting to new environmental conditions.
Apparently, this is because Arabicas worldwide have a rather limited genetic stock which makes them more vulnerable to changes in average temperatures and various new pests and diseases, Science News explains.
Commenting on these findings, Justin Moat, presently employed as Head of Spatial Information Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens, UK, stated as follows:
“The worst case scenario, as drawn from our analyses, is that wild Arabica could be extinct by 2080. This should alert decision makers to the fragility of the species.”
Given the fact that Ethiopia is presently listed as Africa's largest coffee producer, these researchers also worry about how deforestations carried out in this country will impact on the local wild Arabica coffee plants and eventually on the global coffee industry.
“Coffee plays an important role in supporting livelihoods and generating income, and has become part of our modern society and culture. The extinction of Arabica coffee is a startling and worrying prospect,” explains Aaron Davis, the head of coffee research at the Royal Botanic Gardens, UK.
“The scale of the predictions is certainly cause for concern, but should be seen more as a baseline, from which we can more fully assess what actions are required,” he goes on to add.
It is to be expected that studies concerning the impact of climate change and global warming on coffee plantations will soon follow, especially seeing how farmers and industry stakeholders have already drawn attention to the fact that ongoing environmental shifts are “toying” with coffee harvests worldwide.