Coffee: The Drink We Depend On Is “Endangered”

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Did you ever think that a drink that appears so abundantly is actually at risk of becoming scarce? Coffee, a drink that many of us enjoy on a daily basis is threatened. Not only is coffee an easy method to boost energy, but it is also a large part of different cultures around the world, especially in Uganda. Although the dwindling supply of coffee trees could potentially negatively impact coffee-drinkers globally, it will hit the local Ugandan economy much harder.
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Consumers depend on a coffee as a pick-me-up drink, but the global economy heavily depends on it as well.
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Impact On the Local Economy:
One Ugandan coffee farmer, Massa, gets almost all of his profit from coffee trees (McDonnell), which are called Coffea (most-expensive.coffee). If these trees are wiped out due to climate change, the local economy will severely suffer and poverty will rapidly increase. For example, Massa’s family is already being impacted by the decrease in coffee production. Now they have less funds available for food and medication, putting them at risk for malnourishment and disease. The family also can no longer afford new tools or fertilizer, forcing them to do more work by hand and see decreased crop yield. Finally, the family cannot afford education, so they will have a more difficult time finding employment, which will continue the seemingly endless cycle of poverty.

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Poverty is already widespread in Uganda but will become far more severe since the coffee crop that they rely so heavily on is dwindling.
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Crops Vulnerability to Climate Change:
Uganda is the ideal climate for growing coffee trees because it is never too warm or too cold and gets just the right amount of rain. Uganda is a very fragile climate and if the global temperature is raised slightly, the area will encounter extended dry periods followed by torrential  rain periods. The rainy season in Uganda is from March through May and October through December. In 2016, Uganda received minimal rain during the second season, which dramatically decreased the supply of coffee for that harvest. According to Sam Massa, “over the last, say, twenty years, the rain pattern has completely changed. Rain comes at a time when you don’t expect it. Sunshine or drought comes at times when you should be having rain.” Additionally, the coffee trees will be further threatened because more pests will be able to survive on them, and increase disease vulnerability. According to Piet van Asten, one of the world’s biggest coffee distributors, “coffee is among the worst crops farmers have in terms of [vulnerability] to climate change [shock exposure]. ” According to a 2015 economic analysis, more irregular weather patterns will decrease production by 50 percent by 2050, resulting in $1.2 billion in losses. By the middle of the century, the the world may have warmed by 2 degrees Celsius (McDonnell).

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Between now and 2050, the majority of the world will rapidly decrease in coffee yield due an increase in the average global temperature. However, northern areas like Canada could actually see an increase in production since the climate is becoming warm enough for coffee trees to thrive.
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Take Away:
We have the opportunity to alter our daily habits to curb greenhouse gas emissions and consequently slow the warming of the planet. If every person in the world changes their habits just slightly, by decreasing their shower time or eating less meat, for example, coffee trees can be saved. People will be able to continue on happily drinking coffee, and Massa and his fellow Ugandans will be able to continue enjoying a comfortable life.

Sources:
  1. Firl, Monika. "Unfiltered." Co-op coffees. <https://coopcoffees.coop/coffee-in-our-changing-climate-5050/>
  2. "Infographic: How Coffee Makes the World Go Round." DesignTAXI.com. <http://designtaxi.com/news/33476/Infographic-How-Coffee-Makes-the-World-Go-Round/>
  3. McDonnell, Time. "Drying Climate Threatens Africa's Coffee, But Hope Remains." National Geographic. August 02, 2017. <http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/08/climate-change-drought-uganda-coffee/>
  4. "Poverty In Uganda." Uganda, East Africa. <http://ugandaeastafrica.weebly.com/poverty-in-uganda.html>
     
Posted by Jamie Grayson on Nov 28, 2017 4:21 PM America/Chicago

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