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Column: If you’re a coffee drinker, you really need to care about climate change

Column: If you’re a coffee drinker, you really need to care about climate change

Climate change is such a massive problem, with such potentially catastrophic ramifications, many people have trouble getting their heads around the danger we face.

So let’s put things in simpler terms.

Climate change means you’ll be paying more for coffee, every day, for possibly the rest of your life.

And it may not taste as good.

“U.S. consumers should expect much more expensive and lower-quality coffee because of rising temperatures, extreme rainfalls, and higher frequency of severe droughts,” said Titus O. Awokuse, chairman of the department of agricultural, food and resource economics at Michigan State University.

“Recent studies show that up to 60% of high-quality coffee species are at risk of extinction because of the negative impacts of climate change,” he told me.

There. Got your attention now?

Climate change isn’t just an environmental issue. It’s a consumer issue.

The cost of food is rising. That’s partly due to supply and labor issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But it’s also a reflection of how our planet’s changing climate is affecting crops, livestock and other food sources.

“Prices reflect supply and demand, and if production costs rise or supply becomes more constrained, prices will rise,” said Carolyn Dimitri, an associate professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University.

“Climate change is likely to increase production costs and reduce supply, at least in some years,” she predicted, adding that she would be “horrified” if decent coffee became harder to come by.

“I will pay just about any price for my coffee,” Dimitri said, echoing my own thoughts and, I suspect, those of millions of other coffee drinkers.

Coffee futures recently jumped to the highest level in four years, due in part to extreme weather in Brazil, the world’s largest coffee producer.
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