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Will coffee soon be a thing of the past?

Posting in Environment

A study has suggested popular coffee beans are facing extinction within the next few decades.

Researchers from the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, U.K, used computer modelling to predict that climate change may result in Arabica coffee beans becoming extinct in the wild by 2080. This popular type of coffee bean accounts for 70 percent of the world's daily cuppa, out of only two species that are used to manufacture commercial coffee products.

After analyzing climate predictions based on current trends and changes in temperature, the scientists say that by 2080, the future of our beloved coffee looks bleak. In the best-case scenario, 65 percent of production will cease to exist -- as locations where arabica is currently grown will become unsuitable. In the worst case, coffee supply will be at only 0.3 percent of current growth and manufacture.

The report says:

"The modelling predicted that Arabica could be extinct by the year 2020 due to climate change, and this appears to be realistic given the poor health (lack of seedlings, loss of mature Arabica specimens, low frequency of flowering and fruiting) of the remaining populations observed in 2012."

Although it will still be possible to artificially manufacture the necessary conditions to grow coffee, it will result in a lack of diversity and potentially plants less resistant to disease. As coffee is one of the world's largest export markets, and for many developing countries provides an economy lifeline, we have every right to be worried if the climate change and deforestation predictions are true.

The original research is published in online journal PLOS ONE.

Image credit: Flickr

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— By on November 8, 2012, 9:37 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure