back to article Coffee next on climate chopping-block

“Climate deniers,” just go and fetch yourself a coffee and ignore this story. For the rest of us, the news is dire: according to a study by the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, wild Arabica could be on the climate change hit list. OK, deep breaths: the cultivated stuff will still be out there. Maybe: according to the study, the …

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Alert

Welcome to the future

As stock markets begin to lose their capacity to generate income, the investors will flock whole heartily to the last remaining garaunteed sourece of revenue, commodites.

I believe that in the very near future elements such as Sugar, Food Grains, Coffee, Rice etc will become the true gold. In order to increase their values a thousand excuses will suddenly become valid and all in order to make the resources "scarce".........

The "climate" boys will tell us about increasing droughts hence the lack of Grain.

The "climate" boys will tell us about increasing rough seas, lost cargos, hence the lack of Rice.

The "warmongers" will tell us about political problems in south Amercia and hence a lack of sugar..

ad infinitum.....

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@Khaptain

Your story seems plausible if only it wasn't for the huge reserves countries have which they can't seem to get rid of due to the low prices. Worse yet: food (components) like butter, sugar, grain which doesn't sold at auctions is simply destroyed "because". No matter how much quantity it concerns.

This is what is happening in a small country like the Netherlands so I'm pretty sure its happening on a larger scale or in other countries too.

As such: don't forget about the /huge/ overhead which we currently have yet don't use. Of course you won't find stories like these in common media, but if you look into these specific subjects (the trade between farmers and the state for example) I'm pretty sure you'll be shocked.

As such; I don't really think your story holds much truth. There's too much overhead which is currently simply destroyed without the common population even knowing about it.

Welcome to the modern financial world....

(yes; I agree this is disgusting)

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Holmes

Re: @Khaptain

Why do you think they are "low priced"? Because of subsidies, natch...

> Worse yet: food (components) like butter, sugar, grain which doesn't sold at auctions is simply destroyed "because".

> Welcome to the modern financial world....

This is not new; food destruction "to keep prices high" was an important part of FDR's New Deal. Steinbeck, an economically illiterate fiction writer known for such works as "The Grapes of Wrath" was incensed at food destruction while people were starving. It was the evil capitalists of course...

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Re: @Khaptain

How can you say anything unsupportive about FDR? He only strong armed the Supreme Court into deciding against Filburn because Filburn was growing wheat for personal own use. I mean what kind of capitalistic scum grows wheat for personal use instead of buying it on the broken open market when money is tight?

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@Destroy All Monsters

In Steinbeck's day they fed the plentiful grain produced in the US prairies into boilers to keep prices high and farmers in business. Now they call it biofuels. Go figure. As it happens, only a proportion of the produce farmers can produce should be eaten, either by us or by farm animals, or the obesity epidemic gets worse. Doesn't mean enough of it shouldn't go to places where poor people starve instead of the food being turned into renewable diesel fuel, but places where people are likely to starve nowadays tend to have wars and no good roads. (OK, the fact that in Coventry my Church is at the centre of a rapidly growing foodbank network represents bad news - the fact is some people here need charity to eat due to slowness of benefits bureacracy and lack of social/legal challenge to loan shark operations, but there's no real shortage of people donating.

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Re: Welcome to the future

Close...but it will actually be water.

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FAIL

What a running joke

According to said research coffee in any form didn't exist for thousands upon thousands of years during all past climatic changes. It must have only come into existence a few hundred years ago, a bit like creationist belief, just suddenly appearing in all it's caffeinated glory for Hipsters to consume today.

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Paris Hilton

Re: What a running joke

read a bit ol' chap.

try about 1000 years ago. Ethiopian monks got the habit from shepherds. Needed to stay awake during droning services. Bit like green pollies insisting higher costs and lower standards are good for you.

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Pint

Re: What a running joke

Excellent example of missing the point Denarius.

Cheers, before some idiot does a study that "proves" malt/hops/barley are susceptable to climataggeddon as well.

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Pint

Let them drink tea.

Or beer.

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Anonymous Coward

Quite.

Ban coffee. Make tea compulsory.

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Last I checked, quality camellia sinensis was pretty finicky about where it grows, too, like coffee.

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Thanks for the twitter link to the research: http://t.co/HhvDJuAk

The paper's three scenarios assume an old IPCC prediction of 1.8°C to 4°C temperature increase by 2100, which was based on the sudden increase from 1980-1998 continuing. No one believes that any more.

The actual temperature increase by 2100, if any, is much more likely to be similar to the last century overall, with its rises and falls (e.g. 1940-1980), and therefore considerably better than his "best" scenario.

Aron also raises an excellent point, that wild coffee has clearly survived for many thousands of years, and quite probably across several ice ages and interglacial temperatures warmer than today.

The Ethiopian "plateau" with altitudes from 1300m - 3000m (an 11 C temperature range at 6.5 C/km atmospheric lapse rate) would seem to provide an ideal environment for the wild plants to be able to naturally migrate upwards and downwards tracking temperature changes.

I quickly found one coffee producer in Ethiopia whose web site says they are selling wild coffee, not cultivated, growing at altitudes of 1750m - 1850m, which is below the middle of the plateau altitude range (i.e. in the colder half of the survivable climatic temperature range).

http://www.falconspeciality.co.uk/ethopia.html

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> for the wild plants to be able to naturally migrate upwards and downwards

That presupposes, of course, that there is wild landscape for the plants to be able to naturally migrate up and down in. There I think lies the true threat: a lack of any kind of natural ecology. So it comes down to high h. sapiens population levels as being the real major ecological threat. Again.

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Re: > for the wild plants to be able to naturally migrate upwards and downwards

"That presupposes, of course, that there is wild landscape for the plants to be able to naturally migrate up and down in.

high h. sapiens population levels as being the real major ecological threat. Again."

You have obviously never been to Africa.

If you had, you'd realise there is far more wilderness than developed land and plants migrating is already commonplace through movements of animals carrying seeds in their droppings. High population levels are a problem for the humans, not the ecosystem.

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Re: > for the wild plants to be able to naturally migrate upwards and downwards

>>You have obviously never been to Africa.

Or the more "wild" parts of North or South America, Australia, Asia, or even a great deal of Eastern Europe. There are still alot of areas where there's noone.

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Re: > for the wild plants to be able to naturally migrate upwards and downwards

I read somewhere that you could relocate the entire population of Earth to Texas and still have lower population density than many existing cities thereby leaving the entire rest of the planet completely empty (apart from a modest amount of farm land and the rest would be wilderness I guess).

Not that I think that is a great idea, but it gives you a bit of different viewpoint to consider whilst getting all excited by the idea of world overpopulation.

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Pint

Re: > for the wild plants to be able to naturally migrate upwards and downwards

Texas? That would be a laugh...

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Unhappy

No 'coffee' shortage as long as we have Soy Beans

Who needs coffee beans to make coffee?

The Chinese, who clearly lead the world in alternate food products, with melamine in baby food, 'fruit freshener' for wilting fruits, etc., have the answer for 'coffee'.

Method: You take soy beans, now predominantly GM types, roast them until they are black, and then after soaking in the chemical mixture overnight, the soy beans are dried in an oven. When dried they are ground up, packaged and sold.

The soaking mixture is made from Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, used to make shampoo or dish-soap, toss in industrial colour powders along with Carboxymethyl Cellulose (CMC) and antibiotic Chloramphenicol.

So next time you are in your local 'bucks, or whatever, and think the coffee is dodgy, test it.

It is not difficult to differentiate between real and fake coffee in the market. Coffee is black; fake coffee contains chemicals which easily fade when ice is added while real coffee doesn’t.

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Re: No 'coffee' shortage as long as we have Soy Beans

And some people wonder why I only buy whole bean green coffee and roast it myself. For anyone interested in giving roasting your own a try, I highly recommend it but don't waste your money on one of the expensive home roasters and get a stove top popper for under US$20 to see if it's your cup of, tea?

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Re: No 'coffee' shortage as long as we have Soy Beans

Are there hipsters here tonight?

Pro tip: "Ersatzkaffee" has been in existence for a long time. As for the people who are unable to distinguish the Real Stuff from the rest and pull out SCARY CHINESE, well can I say?

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@Eddy Ito (was: Re: No 'coffee' shortage as long as we have Soy Beans)

At home, I use a modified[1] "air pop" popcorn popper to roast my beans each morning. It's got a timer & tipper, so I don't even have to keep an eye on it ... On the trail, I use two cast-iron skillets ... a hot one over a campfire, and a cool one to pour the hot beans into to chill out. It was good enough for my grand fathers, and it's good enough for me. When traveling by road, I roast enough to last the trip.

Friends don't let friends drink corporate coffee.

[1]I'd provide the methodology, but I'm certain you can find a HOWTO online.

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Re: Are there hipsters here tonight?

No hipsters I know of but I freely admit to being a coffee snob. I also enjoy a good mugicha but it isn't coffee even if the Italians call their version caffè d'orzo.

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Thumb Up

Re: @Eddy Ito (No 'coffee' shortage as long as we have Soy Beans)

@Jake:

I live in VietNam - largest coffee exporter for a year or two - and your corn popper(?) is a very interesting idea, I wish this forum had PM's.

There is an Italian coffee machine emporium here in SaiGon but the prices are nuts.

P.S. The recipe above for Soy beans is genuine, only trouble is that if you drink too much your guts will rot!

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Re: @Eddy Ito (No 'coffee' shortage as long as we have Soy Beans)

JaitcH,

Strange that you don't know Saigon is and has been for decades- Ho Chi Minh City.

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@JaitcH

My wife replaced our toaster oven because one element burned out and it wouldn't cook evenly. Being my skinflint self, I rescued it from the trash and slapped on a cheap universal grill rotisserie kit and a perforated can that fit inside to make my own small roaster. Don't be afraid to experiment an air popper isn't that different from a heat gun or hair dryer after all.

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Re: No 'coffee' shortage as long as we have Soy Beans

I roast my own in a popcorn machine too. Green beans cost about 40% of what roasted beans cost in 200g quantity (I can't buy more otherwise it's stale before I use it), but before roasting they keep no problem for many months. It takes about ten minutes to roast a batch and it's super fresh.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9_3auiT63Y

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Re: @Eddy Ito (No 'coffee' shortage as long as we have Soy Beans)

"Strange that you don't know Saigon is and has been for decades..."

But not so strange perhaps that you don't know how it is referred to by its residents.

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Pint

Re: @Eddy Ito (was: No 'coffee' shortage as long as we have Soy Beans)

"...roast my beans each morning. ..."

Who the hell has THAT much time in the morning??

That you seem to... I doff my cap. Congratulations.

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Re: No 'coffee' shortage as long as we have Soy Beans

The best cup of coffee I've had in a Starbucks was in Shanghai. YMMV.

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Re: @Eddy Ito (was: No 'coffee' shortage as long as we have Soy Beans)

My first roaster was a side-vent (un-modded) hot-air popcorn popper.

I am looking at modding an industrial dryer for my next upgrade. :)

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@JeffyPooh (was: Re: @Eddy Ito (was: No 'coffee' shortage as long as we have Soy Beans))

Takes no time, to speak of. The timer starts the coffee roasting, when it's done it gets pitched into a room-temperature 8 inch cast-iron skillet, which is agitated by an electric motor for a couple minutes. When I wake up, the coffee is cool enough for the milling machine. Mill coffee, start coffee-pot, feed the dawgs & house-cats, and the coffee is ready.

Batches of green coffee vary, so I have to manually calibrate & re-set the timers after watching the first couple of batches of each new 25lb bag of green coffee. The entire contraption took about eight hours to build over two days from spare parts, six or so years ago, including explaining to my eldest niece & nephew exactly what the hex-pad & 555 clock chip were for, and how they worked. It was a "lets build a kludge" learning tool for the kids, but it worked so well that after tidying up the bread-board rig & putting it into a box that the cats can't hurt themselves with, I decided to continue using it after swapping out the hex-pad for a connection to my serial statmux. I'm contemplating adding an automatic milling operation to the next version :-)

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"62 percent of the areas now able to support it would survive – the worst-case model suggested that 97 percent of its range would no longer support the crop."

BUT climate change would mean that wild arabica would be viable in a whole host of NEW places as their climates changed top match the places they grow now - this only looks at current areas.

Its the same for the rest of the agricultural apocalypse - on a planetary scale plant growth increases, but not necessarily where things grow well now, affecting current farmers, but not the species as a whole.

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That's only half the matter. Breeding, bioengineering, and environment-modification will far exceed any threat to the bean. If the issue is the preservation of the original plant, well, the 'original' of corn was lost long ago, and it took careful breeding of the current species to backtrack to the 'original', which is virtually useless as a foodstuff anyway.

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Trollface

You forget creeping socialization. Chavez for example has basically managed to kill Venezualan coffee output all by himself. Price and export controls, and voilà. No more coffee.

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I thought we were talking about wild coffee, which doesn't take account of price and export controls, nor does it need farmers or lack of socialisation.

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Pint

And of course, without coffee, we could kiss goodbye to software development as well.

I just had a horiffying thought. Please don't run any article that describes how the hops crop might be in any way endangered. Never mind the effect that would have on software development, such a disaster would make existence unbearable. I'm going to have nightmares now. Thanks El Reg.

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Re: And of course, without coffee, we could kiss goodbye to software development as well.

Take panadol for 3 days and you'll be fine.

Actually, better than fine. Coffee's main beneficial effect only works on the short-term and there are plenty of long term problems which it exacerbates.

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Re: And of course, without coffee, we could kiss goodbye to software development as well.

such as ? Nothing ever shown, despite years of hysterical Mrs Grundy whining about it. However, it does seem to have long term benefit, like reducing chances of Alzheimers .

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Re: And of course, without coffee, we could kiss goodbye to software development as well.

IIRC in the history of beer, humulus lupulus was a relatively recent innovation (a little over 1,000 years old). Before that, we used a variety of botanicals as gruit. And we still experiment with non-hops gruits even today, especially in historical beers. Don't see why we couldn't try other botanicals today.

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Pint

@AussieCanuck46: Re Hops

Was that Northern Brewer, Fuggles or something more southern like Goldings or Hallertauer ? The regional variation in UK ale depends upon the suitability of these hops to the local climate. Anyway, if it gets really hot, you could always use a very close relative of the hop plant in your beer instead, the cultivation of which needs more sunshine ahem... A lot more musty, not quite as bitter, and gives a somewhat more dozy high. As it happens, you can use various bitter herbs to flavour ale and improve its keeping qualities, but few are as good for the purpose as hops.

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Anonymous Coward

Computer modeling is not the predictive aspect of science.

The predictive (or postdictive) aspect is hypothesis testing, falsifiability, and hypothesis modification/rejection.

The more entertaining rants of climatoboffin Andrew Weaver—reportedly pondering a no-doubt welcome reception with his local Green Party—and cherry-picking every horrific projected scenario possible for an ill-instructed but easily distracted press, are much further from scientific discourse.

As for the demise of consumable vegetation generally, aerocarbophilic plants (if I may coin a term) will take over the ecosystems of carbophobic species, whether bred for the same, natural-selectively arising, or bioengineered, and availability will be far less a problem than future overpopulation of the planet exceeding current caffeine-availability.

It only remains for people to be flexible in the planting and eating, and international distribution of their preferred foodstuffs, and be willing to accept bioengineering and the xenotransfer of beneficial nutrient genes (for vitamins, phytonutrients, minerals, fats, balanced proteins) from carbophobic species to carbophilic ones, etc.

And enjoy their cuppa. Because one way or another, it's gonna be around for many centuries to come.

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Re: Computer modeling is not the predictive aspect of science.

That post was mine. Somehow the generic anonymous handle has displayed, though I was posting as danR2.

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Keep sharpening your pencils

Oh God who listens to this total bollocks?

Get ready for genetically engineered climate saving coffee

The clue is in the use of the word "hybridization"

I thought coffee was supposed to keep you awake

Guess you've got to be awake in the first place for that to work

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Re: Keep sharpening your pencils

Coffee over-stimulates the nervous system, it doesn't reduce the need for sleep.

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Flame

Now we don't just have questionable climate models, some ecologist combines them with junk extinction models. Do you realize these idiots claim 1000s of species go extinct every year, but cannot name even ten of them? Build a big asylum in Greenland and confine the lot so they can do no more damage.

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Better still Antartica. It should be ice free by their accounts. They shouldn't be given anything except the odd wind turbine and a bit of solar.

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Flame

Why do eco-catatrophists always assume the planet is so fragile ?

so ice and hot ages come and go and environmental equilibrium settles down. Humans harvest something, or worse, breed it and the whole of the environment collapses ? Greenies, the new jesuits , purveyors of the finest guilt imputation and management while you wait. Fun is bad, pleasure is worse etc. No doubt when the pendulum of panic merchant opinion goes back to "the ice age is coming, the ice age is coming" that somehow, coffee/rice/wheat/maize/food of choice is doomed still ? And it's all _our_ fault.

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Devil

Re: Why do eco-catatrophists always assume the planet is so fragile ?

You ask "Why do eco-catatrophists always assume the planet is so fragile ? "

The simple answer is "Because that is were the money is." You have to have a urgent cause to draw in money to groups like Greenpeace, Sierra Club, or IPCC. Otherwise they go away and all those 'activists' have to work for a living.

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Childcatcher

Re: Why do eco-catatrophists always assume the planet is so fragile ?

The ecological problem is financial, not really ecological. If sea levels rise and flood London, New York and LA there will be catastrophic financial implications - all that very expensive real-estate will be lost and their owners impoverished. If the current corn fields turn to dust and the tundra to wheat, the current economic status quo will be wrecked.

That is why the sky is falling - moving property isn't possible.

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