According to a recent study done by Nature Plants, it could become increasingly more difficult to grow coffee beans in Ethiopia, thanks to climate change.
First, a little background that might have your brain recalling biology lessons from school (though admittedly, this would have made a much more interesting class topic). Ethiopian coffee comes from the Arabica tree which is apart of a family of flowering plants that produce seeds that are more commonly known as coffee beans. Native to Africa and tropical parts of Asia, this family of plants now also grows in Central and South America as well as the Caribbean.
In order to thrive and grow, the Arabica tree needs a mild climate. Due to climate change, projections from this study show Ethiopia growing warmer and drier which, over time, will cause 40 to 60 percent of the country to become an inhospitable environment for growing coffee beans by the end of the century.
Current climate change has already begun to effect coffee growers in Ethopia, reports The Verge. The weather is hotter, more extreme, and unpredictable. Even if you aren't a coffee drinker, this is a pretty huge deal. As one of the worlds largest coffee exporters, 15 million Ethiopians make their living from coffee farming. The economic ramifications climate change could have on the country is significant.
In the spirit of science, it is important to acknowledge the study's limitations. The study left room for uncertainty in its projections and climate models. It does, however, show that there is potential to save Ethopia's coffee industry.
The rising temperatures that could turn current coffee-growing locations unuseable also turns land at higher elevations into optimal coffee ground. The study says that coffee farming could increase by four times if plantations were moved to these higher elevations. This is not as simple as it sounds though. In order to do that, millions of farmers would need to buy up new land and move their crops. This would take a great deal of organisation and planning to successfully execute.
While this is a potential solution, we should remember the reason this is happening: Climate change is affecting and will keep affecting more things than just coffee. We can keep treating symptoms, but we can't ignore the root problem.
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