Tech & Science Most of the world's best places for coffee will be gone by 2050 -- and there's an unexpected culprit

03:51  14 september  2017
03:51  14 september  2017 Source:   Business Insider Australia

The bees behind your morning coffee might be in big trouble

  The bees behind your morning coffee might be in big trouble <p>Coffee production depends on pollination and much more than your morning buzz is at stake.&nbsp;</p>The best coffee grows in the mountains, where it is cool. The plants need low temperatures to thrive, which is why growers often put shade trees in their fields. But the mountains are getting hotter. And the higher you go, the less room there is to grow coffee. This is one reason scientists predict coffee will suffer in a changing climate.

The world ' s largest coffee -producing regions could shrink by as much as 88% by 2050 , according to a new study that is the first of its kind. × Recommended For You Powered by Sailthru. Most of the world ' s best places for coffee will be gone by 2050 — and there ' s an unexpected culprit .

Coffee is in trouble. According to a new study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy

Caffeine hit: Buying coffee is one of the biggest growth engines for retail sales. Caffeine hit: Buying coffee is one of the biggest growth engines for retail sales. Coffee is in trouble.

According to a new study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the world's largest coffee-producing regions could shrink by as much as 88% by 2050 as a result of climate change. The study is the first of its kind to look at how bees -- key coffee crop pollinators -- will be impacted by a warmer planet.

Bees are the unsung heroes of our global food system, responsible for pollinating as many as two-thirds of the crops we eat. Without them, our farms would falter.

As the planet warms, both bees and coffee crops will respond by moving to more suitable climates when they can. Often, those more suitable areas are uphill, where elevation protects them from excessive heat.

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As well as being wealthier, the researchers predict everyone will have more leisure time and be much healthier – with many of today’ s killer In the UK and the World in 2050 report, the researchers said there would be a new ‘slave’ economy as machines take over much of the ‘menial but essential’ tasks.

Growing coffee in Mexico could be a thing of the past by 2020, and coffee growing regions will be largely gone from Nicaragua by 2050 . For the world ' s estimated 25 million coffee farmers, many of whom run small farms, moving their operations away from the equator or to higher elevations will be

But in countries like Nicaragua, Honduras, and Venezuela, that isn't an option. These regions "are less mountainous, so that coffee and bees have fewer options to move uphill," Taylor Ricketts, the director of the University of Vermont's Gund Institute for Environment and a co-author of the recent study, told Business Insider.

Coffee© Provided by Business Insider Inc Coffee In these areas, coffee crops and bees will suffer as the viable land for growing the valuable crop is diminished by warmer temperatures. Based on their models, the researchers estimate these regions could see a reduction of anywhere from three-quarters to 88% of their total area over the next three decades. That's a roughly 60% greater decline than previously estimated.

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( There are other variants, such as Robusta, but most people agree they're gross.) Climate change is seen as the main culprit in the coffee rust explosion, the devastating effects of which caused the By 2050 , Nicaragua, which produces about 17 percent of the world ' s coffee supply at present, "will

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This may be because past models failed to account for the importance of bees.

Many of the most valuable crops on Earth -- from apples and avocados to onions and grapefruit -- rely on bees and other pollinators.

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"Pollinating bees are worth real money to the farmer," said Ricketts. "They are an input to the crop, just like water or labour."

Some estimates suggest that coffee crop yields rise by as much as 20% when local bee populations are flourishing. Coffee beans also tend to be more uniform when the crops are well-pollinated.

Bee hives worth about $2000 have been stolen from a property near Ipswich. Bee hive Still, not all regions will face dire consequences as the planet warms. Countries with sizable mountain ranges, like Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Guatemala may actually benefit slightly from warmer temperatures.

"In these countries, there are some areas where the situation is predicted to actually improve for both coffee and bees," Ricketts said.

Overall, the harms that will result from climate change still outweigh the benefits, according to the latest study. Even in areas where mountains offer some protection from global warming, the average diversity of bee populations is expected to dip about 15% according to the study, putting future populations at risk.

"In general, there is more bad news than good," said Ricketts.

This has big implications beyond a slightly pricier latte.

"Coffee is grown by roughly 25 million farmers in more than 60 tropical countries worldwide. In all, probably 100 million people are involved in its production, most of them rural and poor," said Ricketts. "Climate change threatens the primary livelihoods of millions of people."

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