Sunday, August 2, 2015

Say it ain't so Joe!

The BBC travels to coffee producing areas of the world and asks about the impacts of climate change on our favorite caffeinated beverage.  Their findings are more predictable than tomorrow's weather forecast.

Where farmers once enjoyed stable, mild conditions, the temperature now seesaws between cold that stunts growth, and heat that dries the berries before they can be harvested. Then there are the hurricanes and landslides; sometimes, the mud can swallow up plantations. As one farmer put it: “The weather is very strange. Strange things come that we didn’t see before.”

Concerning climate change I would place my own position as among the so-called "Luke-Warmers."  Yes, there is evidence for human generated climate change.  As for the apocalyptic conclusions of some climate change true believers, I remain unconvinced.  The data set available to us is small, I have seen more years of weather than we have satellite measurements and the models scientist have offered have yet to provide predictions born out by observation: the gold standard of science.

To paraphrase the eternal words of Nick Fury, " Until such time as the world ends, I will act as though it intends to spin on."

So about coffee color me yet to be convinced.  The BBC article contains the standard line of logic of most climate change stories to hit the internet,

Using the latest figures for climate change across the globe, Bunn’s calculations predict that the land suited to farming Arabica could drop by as much as 50% by 2050. Classic coffee-producing regions, such as Vietnam, India and most of Central America, will be hit particularly hard.

Again, up until this point those predictions have not proven themselves reliable so I am skeptical about accepting conclusions based upon those models.  

Climate change is real I just don't believe we know enough to claim the apocalypse is upon us. I am fairly confident that it will impact my life and the life of my children.  I know government response to mitigate the threat will impact my life and that of my children. It will have it's own unintended consequences: some of those might be deadly in their own right.

I do not know what percentage of blame for the climate goes to the human contribution of warming gases to the atmosphere and what percentage goes to natural variability.  Either way, I know we do not have some natural right to steady coffee production and the data record for coffee bean cultivation is, in climate terms, shallow.
We're living in the Anthropocene.  No matter how those percentages hash out, we are responsible to react.  I am more optimistic about the possibilities of adapting to climate change than mitigation.  Giving up coffee is an easy adaptation.  Until then, I will worry about problems closer to home.

So while I sit this morning with my cup of french press and cruise the internet, I have 99 worries, but the price of coffee is not one of them.

Frankly, there are 100 things I could do today to make my local ecosystems more resilient to the problems created by the Anthropocene, but nothing I can do to help the coffee growers of the world, except maybe continue to buy their product.

I don't know how much we'll talk about climate change in this blog, as such.  I am fairly confident that you will find what we are doing, however, those one hundred things you can do to adapt to a world which changes from human influence.

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