Climate Change Is Wiping Out Coffee

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Most wild coffee species are at risk for extinction.

I've been writing about climate change for a while. But this time, it's personal.

A new study found 60 percent of wild coffee species are getting close to extinction. Seventy-five wild species are threatened, which is, in laymen's terms, a ton.

"As temperatures increase and rainfall decreases - the suitable area for growing ... diminishes," said Aaron Davis, a researcher at Britain's Royal Botanic Gardens who led the study. "Considering threats from human encroachment and deforestation, some (coffee species) could be extinct in 10 to 20 years, particularly with the added influence of climate change."

It's not just about the temperature change, deforestation and human encroachment. More droughts and new pathogens also threaten my favorite beverage.

You might be saying to yourself, "Okay, so that's all very sad. But the coffee species I drink is grown on coffee farms. It's fine."

It's true that most coffee people drink comes from only a couple of species of coffee: arabica and robusta. But as the climate changes, those wild species are going to become a lot more than marks on a taxonomy tree. Species evolve into different varieties because certain traits are better for certain environments.

"Wild coffee species are critical for coffee crop development and, thus, for sustainability of global coffee production," wrote the study's authors.

As the environment changes, there's a good chance other coffee species will be better at things like resisting freezing, and we'll need that. Unless, of course, we turn back climate change right now. Our call.