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Coffee under threat from climate change

Friday 09 Nov 2012 1:22p.m.

Coffee under threat from climate change

By 3 News online staff

If climate change isn't worrying you yet, perhaps this will change your mind: it could dramatically drive up the price of coffee.

New research, published in journal PLoS One, claims by the year 2080, the Arabica coffee plant could be extinct.

Researchers from Ethipoia and the UK have calculated that by 2020, between 65 percent and 99 percent of all current Arabica growing locations will be unsuitable.

"The modelling predicted that Arabica could be extinct by the year 2020 due to climate change, and this appears to be realistic given the poor health (lack of seedlings, loss of mature Arabica specimens, low frequency of flowering and fruiting) of the remaining populations observed in 2012," the study's authors write.

Seventy percent of all coffee is made from Arabica beans. Prices are already at a 30-year high, which is being partly blamed on climate change.

"It is perceived by various stakeholders that some of the poor harvests are due to changed climate conditions, thus linking price increases to climate change."

Even if Arabica isn't completely wiped out in the wild, most of the world's cultivated plantations are genetically very similar, so won't have the flexibility to deal with growing pressures, the study claims.

"Coffee plays an important role in supporting livelihoods and generating income, and has become part of our modern society and culture," says head of coffee research Aaron Davis at the UK's Royal Botanic Gardens.

"The extinction of Arabica coffee is a startling and worrying prospect."

The researchers hope the study will help find ways to prevent Arabica's extinction.

3 News

 
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