Weather events will not only be felt by more frequent natural disasters and extreme temperatures, but will soon have a daily impact on our lives in the form of food.
Believe it or not, we may no longer be able to enjoy many of our favorite foods in the next few years due to a host of weather-related reasons, from drought to rising temperatures.
+ Rich countries are called to help the poorest to face climate change
Some crops can be eliminated altogether, while others will become scarce and expensive. We shouldn’t need another reason to act now and try to stop climate change from getting worse, but rescuing some of your staples from the pantry of extinction is all very well.
We all love chocolate, don’t we? Unfortunately, due to climate change, the cocoa plant could be completely wiped out by 2050. Currently, more than 50% of the world’s chocolate comes from two countries: Ivory Coast and Ghana. The plant is notoriously sensitive to environmental changes, which explains why it can only be found in areas close to the equator. But growing cocoa beans is becoming increasingly difficult due to more extreme weather patterns that increase temperatures and alter rainfall, humidity and sunshine. The threat of climate change to chocolate is so serious that even confectionery giant Mars, famous for its candy bars and caramel, has partnered with scientists at the University of California to develop technology to help cocoa survive. Without urgent action, we could indeed be looking towards a future without chocolate, as Mars chief sustainability officer Barry Parkin told Business Insider that “frankly, we don’t think we’re getting there fast enough collectively.”
Another crop that is likely to be severely affected by climate change is its smoothie ingredient – the humble banana. In a recent study by the University of Exeter, bananas could be wiped out by adverse weather conditions in 10 countries by 2050. Although banana production has increased since 1961 due to higher temperatures and better production methods, global warming and frequent floods and droughts threaten banana production. And bananas will not only be threatened in South America, but also on our doorstep in Asia: India, which is the biggest producer and consumer in the world, as well as the Philippines, are expected to experience sharp drops in banana production in the coming decades.
Our own Asian staple, rice, is also vulnerable. According to a report by the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO), rising temperatures, rising sea levels and changes in rainfall patterns due to global climate change will make water and land resources scarce, which will substantially affect the rice cultivation. This will especially affect Asia, where land viability for growing rice could decline by more than 50% in the next century.
Another endangered food commodity is coffee. The morning stimulant must disappear as 50% of the land used to grow coffee will not be arable until 2100. In a landmark IPCC report, the body warned of the urgent need to address land management, with soil erosion occurring at faster rates than ever before, threatening irreversible ecosystem loss. A study published in the journal Science Advances stated that popular coffee species are threatened, including arabica, which takes up 60% of global production.
As global demand continues to drive more coffee plantations around the world, leading to more deforestation and fertilizer use, wild mountain coffee trees are dying because they need natural shade and a cooler temperature range. Coffee also faces the dual threat of diseases such as the fungus called coffee rust, which thrives in higher temperatures brought on by global warming.
Pricing will also be a big issue and it has already started. Commodity analysts recently polled by Reuters said prices for arabica beans could rise 25% by the end of this year. As Starbucks founder Howard Shultz recently told TIME: “Make no mistake, climate change will play a bigger role in affecting the quality and integrity of coffee.”
We may have to say goodbye to delicious Indian aloo gobi and Thai massaman curry because of climate change. Climate change is a serious threat to potato cultivation, with rising temperatures accompanying sea level, prompting potato growers to move to higher altitudes in Peru, Latin America’s largest potato producer. But even this is not a long-term solution, as Rene Gómez, germplasm curator at the International Potato Center (CIP), told IPS, who “estimates that in 40 years there will be nowhere to plant potatoes” in the region.
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