A study published today in the journal PLOS ONE reveals that climate change will have a profoundly negative impact on wild Arabica plants, which many see as key to the sustainability of the coffee industry. Using computer modeling to forecast the plants’ status over a period of approximately 70 years, researchers predicted that the number of preexisting bioclimatically suitable growing locations will drop by anywhere from 65 to 99 percent by 2080. The study also identifies areas “that require immediate conservation action, including collection and storage at more favourable sites (for example in seed banks and living collections).”
What’s the Big Idea?
It’s the first study of its kind involving coffee, which after oil is the world’s most traded commodity, and it assesses the survival of wild Arabica plants rather than beverage quality or productivity, which also happen to be affected by climate change. In addition, the economic impact on cultivated Arabica plantations in Ethiopia, the plant’s natural home, is expected to be severe. However, experts say people shouldn’t panic just yet: “The scale of the predictions is certainly cause for concern, but should be seen more as a baseline, from which we can more fully assess what actions are required.“