Declining Coffee Production Is Climate Change’s Canary In the Coal Mine
The oil industry-backed groups keep funding anti-climate change groups, and the Republicans in the U.S. Congress back a budget that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gases (GHG). I can provide an example of both. On the EPA regulations, Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) said, “I do not want the EPA writing those regulations, I think it’s too much power in the hands of a single federal agency.”
The Koch brothers, David and Charles Koch, own the oil conglomerate, Koch Industries, Inc. The conservative think tank, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is one of the groups that has received Koch money. ALEC’s whitepaper, EPA’s Regulatory Train Wreck: Strategies for State Legislators, states that the “highest priority should be to get the state on record as calling on Congress to stop this regulatory train wreck.”
Meanwhile, the decreased production of the coffee industry is serving as the proverbial canary in the coal mine. Central American and South American coffee production dropped 70 percent last year. A presentation on the impact of climate change on Central American coffee production says that Central America is “one of the regions that is most likely to get both hotter and drier over the course of this century.” The presentation cites studies of climate change over the last two to three decades in coffee growing areas of Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras which indicates that the temperatures in the regions have increased between 0.2 and 1 degree Celsius. Rainfall in some of the areas decreased by up to 15 percent.
African coffee growing regions are also affected by climate change. Kenyan coffee production was affected last year by “unpredictable rainfall patterns and excessive droughts.” The 2007 to 2008 crop year had intermittent rainfall which caused coffee plants to suffer from the Coffee Berry Disease.
“We have seen climate change in intermittent rainfall patterns, extended drought and very high temperatures,” said Joseph Kimemia, director of research at Kenya’s Coffee Research Foundation (CRF).
Bad weather caused Uganda’s coffee production in 2009 to decrease. Henry Bagiire, Uganda’s state minister for Agriculture, said last year, “Many things are no longer the same. Global warming has enabled the growth of many pests and diseases, which have led to a decrease in the production of some crops.”