Wake up and smell the coffee - before it's too late

Here’s a story that will wake you up.  Over on e360, there is a report that much of the world’s coffee supply is becoming increasingly threatened by a tiny beetle thanks in part to warmer temperatures.  The coffee berry borer used to be confined to a few regions in central Africa, but within the past couple of decades it has become widespread from Colombia to Indonesia – affecting every coffee growing region around the world except Hawaii, Nepal and Papau New Guinea.  Scientists believe that part of the beetle’s success is due to warming temperatures that make conditions more favorable for them.

Studies have found the beetle requires minimum average temperatures of 68 F degrees to reproduce – and that for every 1.8 degree increase in temperature, the beetles become more infectious – laying more eggs in more coffee beans and causing greater physical damage to the crop.  Coffee growers are responding by moving their crops up in elevation, the article says, but researchers are finding that the beetles are often moving with them – lying dormant until temperatures are favorable.  On the bright side, shade grown coffee may have an advantage since the trees providing shade can reduce temperatures around the coffee plants by 3-7 degrees, however despite growing popularity in some markets, shade grown coffee – which is also good for wildlife - is apparently still the exception rather than the norm.

We write here regularly about another beetle/climate story involving whitebark pine.  But those trees are way up high on the mountain tops and the impact of their demise - while likely to be profound not only for the critters that feed on their seeds, but for everyone occupying the land below – can sometimes seem abstract and hard to grasp. Here’s a story that most of us can relate to.

When are we going to wake up to the fact that it’s time to do something about climate change? For everyone’s sake, let’s get to it before the coffee is gone. 

Go to NRDC's action center to tell congress not to abandon comprehensive climate and energy legislation.  

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Image: Coffee Tao by The 4/30 murders shared via Flickr