Of coffee beans and CBC climate hypochondriacs

Canada’s “national” broadcaster, the CBC continues to practice its longstanding habit of controlling the climate message. There’s an article (with no byline, so it was probably churned from a press release) in their “Technology & Science” section, dated today, which begins:

Coffee beans in danger of extinction

Climate change could kill off prized Arabica plants by 2080

A cup of morning coffee could be much harder to find, and much more expensive, before the century is out thanks to climate change and the possible extinction of wild Arabica beans.

That’s the warning behind a new study by U.K. and Ethiopian researchers who say the beans that go into 70 per cent of the world’s coffee could be wiped out by 2080.

Researchers at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew and the Environment and Coffee Forest Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia looked at how climate change might make some land unsuitable for Arabica plants, which are highly vulnerable to temperature change and other dangers including pests and disease.

[and concludes:]

The study goes on to note that its results are “conservative” because it did not take into account the large-scale deforestation of the Arabica-suitable highland forests of Ethiopia and South Sudan.

“The models assume intact natural vegetation, whereas the highland forests of Ethiopia and South Sudan are highly fragmented due to deforestation,” the researchers wrote. Pests, disease and other factors were also not considered.

The authors of the report say certain “core sites” capable of yielding Arabica until at least 2080 should be set aside for conservation. [emphasis added -hro]

Of course, there’s no link from the article to the actual paper, the abstract of which begins:

Precise modelling of the influence of climate change on Arabica coffee is limited; there are no data available for indigenous populations of this species. In this study we model the present and future predicted distribution of indigenous Arabica, and identify priorities in order to facilitate appropriate decision making for conservation, monitoring and future research. Using distribution data we perform bioclimatic modelling and examine future distribution with the HadCM3 climate model for three emission scenarios (A1B, A2A, B2A) over three time intervals (2020, 2050, 2080). The models show a profoundly negative influence on indigenous Arabica. [emphasis added -hro]

So the authors have no data, but they have computers to play with. And we should all be duly alarmed by the prospect of possible coffee deprivation several decades down the road. I wonder if it has occurred to the authors that there are agricultural scientists who’ve been very successful at developing all kinds of produce that is resistant to the perils of nature, should any actual data ever materialize which indicates that their greatest fears are likely to be realized!

Amazing. Simply amazing.

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7 thoughts on “Of coffee beans and CBC climate hypochondriacs

  1. Oh noes! You mean when I’m 136 yrs old I can’t have my morning coffee? Oh, woe is me.

    I can’t figure out whether these people are utterly gormless, stupid or simply live in an ethics free zone. No matter which, I am well and truly tired of their collective bulsh.

  2. Gary;
    Hear, Hear!!

    My wetware predicts: Soaring CO2 output will benefit coffee trees immensely, and coffee will continue to fuel human innovation.

    Mathematician: A device for turning coffee into theorems.
    ;)

  3. Speaking of coffee and the oh noes department … I’m quite sure it’s not at all related, but I just received word a few hours ago that the supplier of locally roasted beans from whom a friend and I have been purchasing great (non wild Arabica) coffee for several years at a very reasonable price, has decided to shut down her business “due to the rising cost of green beans”.

    But at least she didn’t blame this on “climate change”!

  4. Glancing just at the item on CBC (and – no surprise there – the BBC ran this story as well), and without looking at the actual paper (as we sceptics have an annoying habit of doing) it would appear plausible in a superficial sort of way – yes, climate changes, yes, weather patterns shift on large time scales, and yes, these shifts would have consequences for crops of all kinds, some of them negative.

    It’s just that when you stand back and look at the context, this item is just one particle in a great continuous blizzard of alarming climate-change science stories over the years, many of them contradictory, and enough of them so extreme that it they all happened or were true, the world would surely be a crazier and very different sort of place to the one we know. John Brignell, of course, has listed a great number of them here:
    http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/warmlist.htm

    Coffee is one of those things (like chocolate, wine, beer, etc.) that lots of us love, which makes it a particular target for alarming climate change stories, in the same way that climate change always seems to pose a threat to plants and animals we’re fond of but encourages weeds, diseases, jellyfish and all the other life forms that people, on the whole, dislike.

    Over the period the climate scare has been running, we’ve heard that coffee is threatened by climate change in the form of (deep breath!): drought in Ethiopia, heat in South America (forcing coffee plants to migrate into the Andes), severe hurricanes, resistant bugs, pest infestations, heavy rain, excessive dryness, mudslides, erosion, plant diseases, deforestation and the rise of the coffee berry borer. (Googling that lot, you’d wonder just how the fragile coffee plant ever made it into the modern world, in the first place.)

    According to current orthodoxy, man-made CO2 has been warming the world since the mid to late 1970s at least, with just over three decades of dangerously elevated global temperatures. News outlets like Bloomberg (originators of the recent subtle, Sandy-inspired headline “It’s Global Warming, Stupid!”) would surely be predicting dreadful times to come, in the world of coffee.

    But what’s this?
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-09/global-coffee-production-seen-reaching-record-in-2012-13.html

    Record global coffee production on the way? Something must be wrong here. Paging Dr Ehrlich…

    • Alex, I quite agree:

      this item is just one particle in a great continuous blizzard of alarming climate-change science stories over the years

      And I came across another “particle” the other day. This is yet another of the UNEP’s acronymic offspring: GRASP (Great Apes Survival Partnership) in which “over 150 participants” gathered in Paris for the 2nd Council Meeting. The history of this group began in 2001:

      The four taxa of great apes – bonobo, chimpanzee, gorilla and orangutan – have long been recognized as being under continued threat. [...]

      GRASP was created [...] to respond to this crisis and ameliorate the threat of imminent extinction.

      [From the Report of the Secretariat:]

      Qunli Han, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), on behalf of Gretchen Kalonji, UNESCO, highlighted GRASP as a model framework for innovative cooperation within the international community [...]

      He highlighted GRASP’s long-term strategy and identified great apes and the green economy among the main topics for discussion at this meeting.

      In a video message, Achim Steiner, Executive Director, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), lauded the participation of 21 of the 23 great apes range States, saying partnerships should be established with range States at their core. He underscored the need for the scientific community to realize that public policy is necessary, called on GRASP to be a touchstone for all stakeholders, and suggested that the outcomes of the meeting should be a roadmap for action in the future.

      Jane Goodall, Founder, the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace, in a video address, said growing human populations have led to increases in human-animal conflict. She underscored the need to find alternative livelihoods for hunters and charcoal makers, and emphasized engaging with communities that rely on forests, saying that forests should be valued by villagers as well as by big corporations. Goodall noted the need to change the way humans think about and value the great apes and their habitats, and urged exploring how to make great ape conservation a global initiative.

      Well, at least Steiner and Goodall saved them some money by sending video messages ;-) The only reference to “climate change”:

      Russ Mittermeier, President of Conservation International and GRASP Patron [...] identified large-scale agro-business as the biggest threat to great apes, in addition to overarching global climate change issues. He highlighted ecotourism, protected areas, and species-specific and habitat conservation funds as critical elements of successful great ape conservation efforts.

      Source for the above.

      Wait a minute! “Ecotourism” is a “critical element” of conservation efforts?! Maybe this is why the EU has decided to drop its highly controversial airline CO2 tax … How would the ecotourists do their part if they can’t afford to fly to the sites of these “conservation efforts”?!

      Not to mention that we seem to have “overlapping overarches”: With this group, “climate change” is “overarching”. But Pachauri’s July 2009 “vision” for AR5 was that:

      Climate change needs to be assessed in the context of sustainable development [...] Most governments who have commented on this issue have highlighted the need to treat sustainable development as an overarching framework in the context of both adaptation and mitigation.

      Btw, for the record …GRASP’s IPCC count = 0; IPBES count = 1

      • It’s ironical that the “large-scale agro-business” that threatens great apes would include biofuels such as the palm oil plantations currently causing problems for orang-utans in Indonesia. Talk about unintended consequences…
        http://www.orangutans-sos.org/news/414_emissions-from-palm-oil-biodiesel-highest-of-major-biofuels

        And yes, ecotourism! How would places like Costa Rica cope without it, and without international air travel? More unintended consequences…

        Thanks, by the way, for alerting me to the great news that the EU has “stopped the clock” and started kicking its punitive carbon penalties scheme for airlines into the long grass. Long may it continue to do so! Curiously, I haven’t seen many headlines about this, here in EU-land, wonder why…

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