Climate change poses threat to coffee and chocolate production

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A world without chocolate and coffee to many people may be an unimaginable and unpleasant place; yet, this world may possibly replace the one we live in currently due to climate change. For several decades, climate change has remained a topic of controversy among scientists. In fact, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), global warming, caused mainly by human activities, leads to the release of common greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, which in turn foreshadows a dangerous future with a multitude of problems including higher sea levels, more intense heat waves, and rapidly melting ice in the poles. Yet, in addition to such problems, global warming puts forth another concern that is likely to affect us all sooner; in a matter of decades, rising temperatures may lead to the decrease in the quality of coffee and chocolate, or even worse, their disappearance.

“In a world where we use large amounts of electricity and other pollutants, it was already evident that climate change may be getting worse,” said Unnseo Park (10). “But I find it really surprising – and of course, disappointing – that changes in atmospheric temperature can actually lead to a decrease in coffee and chocolate production. This tells me that we all must all take immediate action to address the current problem of climate change and prevent the further degradation of quality in chocolate and coffee, food products many people enjoy on a daily basis.”

Currently, many adults drink coffee, with approximately 587 million people in the US drinking the caffeinated beverage every day. Nevertheless, the feeling of liveliness and joy after drinking a cup of coffee every morning could eventually disappear if the atmospheric temperature continues to increase at a faster or high constant rate of 0.8 degrees Celsius per 100 years. Although an increase of approximately 0.8 degrees over the last century seems trivial, it has actually created a huge shift in climate patterns, especially in countries near the equator, according to the CBS Local. In fact, Ethiopia, the world’s fifth-largest coffee producer, could lose up to 60 percent of its farming land by the end of this century, as climate change is leading to both changes in weather patterns and inhospitable environments for coffee beans.

Unfortunately, in addition to coffee, chocolate may also on the list of the foods that are likely to disappear in the upcoming century due to climate change. Africa and other regions within 20 degrees of the equator are widely known for being the major producers of cacao beans. However, it may soon become more difficult to grow cacao beans in those regions due to climate change, as temperatures increase the most rapidly in regions near the equator, where the sun strikes directly. Due to the rapidly rising temperatures in the largest cacao bean fields, we may soon not be able to produce high-quality cacao beans or manufacture any chocolate goods.

“As someone who relies so much on coffee and chocolate especially while studying to stay awake, it is unbelievable that coffee may actually disappear in the future merely due to climate change,” Christine Lee (10) said. “In fact, so many other people love such refreshments as much as I do, so to me it is ridiculous that we all may lose the privilege of drinking this beverage and eating sweets just because of an environmental problem that is possible to fix by changing some of our habits to conserve energy and prevent any further rise in atmospheric temperature.”

Although climate change currently presents an unpromising fate for chocolate and coffee, we could potentially change what is predicted and preserve the two beloved refreshments forever. In other words, it is too early to give up, as there still are many possible ways to address climate change and prevent the loss of important crops or plants. One effective solution would be to burn fewer fossil fuels and use more energy-efficient tools instead to save resources and conserve energy. Through such measures, the rise in global temperatures would slow down or stop, making it possible to maintain temperatures in which coffee and cacao beans can still thrive. But most importantly, it is imperative that we actually take action to address the concern of climate change by constantly reminding people of all the potential dangers it can put forth.

“There are numerous different steps we can take to prevent climate change from worsening and eventually leading to the disappearance of chocolate and coffee,” said Ms. Brodhead, AP environmental science teacher. “The first and main step we should take is to advocate using less coal-dependent electricity and converting our energy source to a more efficient kind. In addition, even the smallest actions like turning off the lights after leaving a room or carpooling can help conserve energy, thus leading to fewer changes in global temperatures.”

In the end, it does not matter what direction we take to address the current problem with climate change. What is important is that we take immediate action, as there is not enough time to delay this problem. Even waiting one more day to start conserving energy to release fewer greenhouse gases into the atmosphere may be too late. With the climate rising constantly at a relatively rapid rate, both chocolate and coffee may completely disappear before we even know it.

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Kate Lee

Kate is a junior and the website managing editor of Tiger Times. In her free time, she enjoys playing tennis and binge-watching television shows. Usually, she likes to stay up late, so feel free to approach her anytime 24/7!

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