Speed Reads

climate alert

How Trump's policies might endanger your cup of coffee

President Trump's decision to pull the U.S. out of the global Paris climate agreement could lead to devastating flooding, droughts, increasingly volatile weather, and other existential threats to humanity. But it could also mark the beginning of the end of coffee, Mike Hoffmann argues at Fortune. More than 60 percent of Americans start their day with this "extraordinary beverage," notes Hoffmann, an entomology professor who heads the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions, and rising temperatures will lead not only to much higher coffee bean prices, but also potential scarcity. He elaborates:

Most coffee is grown near the equator, but increasing temperatures, new pests, droughts, and intensive rainfall are taking their toll on the crop. Coffee varieties are sensitive to even slight changes in temperature, which affect both yield and flavor. There is also a new pest, the coffee borer, which seems to enjoy the changing conditions and is spreading worldwide. Growing food is already risky, but it will only become riskier as climate change impacts intensify. If we persist on our current trajectory, the potential for temperatures to increase in the next few decades could reduce the global area suitable for production of coffee by as much as half by 2050. The impact will be enormous, particularly for the 25 million small land-holder farmers who grow coffee in more than 70 countries. [Hoffmann, Fortune]

Hoffmann goes on to offer some solutions and options to fight the global headwinds coffee is facing due to climate change, and climate change in general. "Imagine that: The end of coffee," he concludes. "That sounds like the end of America itself!" (Fact check: True.) You can read his entire argument at Fortune.