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Earth Science

Climate, Habitat Threaten Wild Coffee Species 274

Posted by timothy
from the ok-panic dept.
An anonymous reader writes "BBC reports that Dr. Aaron Davis of the Royal Botanical Gardens claims 'almost three-quarters of the world's wild coffee species are threatened, as a result of habitat loss and climate change. "Conserving the genetic diversity within this genus has implications for the sustainability of our daily cup, particularly as coffee plantations are highly susceptible to climate change.'"
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Climate, Habitat Threaten Wild Coffee Species

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  • Adaption (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @11:46AM (#30524232)

    As Coffea arabica has shown us, in the age of man, being delicious is a very powerful adaption.

  • by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @11:48AM (#30524270)
    "Risk" is only intolerable when it comes to terrorism. When it comes to climate change, we require certainty. (Why, I don't know).
  • by Gadget_Guy (627405) * on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @12:07PM (#30524494)

    Amazing how climate change seems to be the bane of all existence...

    Yep. Who would have thought that global warming could actually affect different things across the globe.

  • Scare tactics... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vvaduva (859950) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @12:07PM (#30524502)

    So they are running out of boogie men - now it's "you'll lose your daily caffeine." Coffee trees enjoy warm climates; what if "global warming" will BENEFIT coffee crops? Most of these guys don't know their asses from their coffee cups, how do they know how an entire species of trees will react to climate change?

    That tree survived for millions of years on a planet that faced all kinds of cataclysmic events; I am sure it will be just fine, especially under the protection of mankind.

  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @12:12PM (#30524604) Journal

    The USA has never imported oil from Iraq. Not now, not when Saddam was in charge, not before that.

    It's not about US-consumed oil.

    It's about US (and British!) companies getting the oil to enrich themselves, their boards, and associated politicos (Cheney, et al).

  • Re:Adaption (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Abcd1234 (188840) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @12:20PM (#30524706) Homepage

    Absolutely. It's not unlike the modern banana monoculture. As a species, the modern banana has been *very* successful, thanks to it being desirable to humans.

    But monocultures are also very dangerous. By minimizing genetic variation in a population, the species becomes extremely susceptible to new types of disease, fungus, and so forth. And again, bananas teach us much, here, as there's great fear that the modern banana could end up being wiped out by disease.

    Thus, protecting these heirloom species is extremely important, as it provides a pool of genetic diversity is present in the wild, providing some protection against the dangers of monoculture.

  • It's obligatory (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @12:21PM (#30524724)

    If something is happening to the environment, you MUST invoke climate change. It's a rule.

    If the local population strips the island of trees and all the soil is washed into the ocean, YOU MUST INVOKE CLIMATE CHANGE. It's not their fault, it's the fault of the rich fat cat Americans who cause climate change. If we just get all the nasty carbon dioxide pollution out of the atmosphere, all our problems will disappear. It's true, within a very few years, we won't be worrying about climate change any more*.

    I think it's some kind of magic formula or something ... or maybe an arcane rite ... I have no clue why, but climate change must be invoked.

    *because all the plants will be dead, followed shortly after by most of us, but that's good because we will no longer be worrying about climate change.

  • by ArsonSmith (13997) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @12:25PM (#30524780) Journal

    The decided that "Global Warming" changed to "Global Climate Change" you know in case it started cooling. They should just change it to "Global scary thing that affects everything you do and you need to give us money to protect you from it."

  • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @12:26PM (#30524794) Homepage

    Coffee trees enjoy warm climates; what if "global warming" will BENEFIT coffee crops?

    Nope, sorry. Coffee trees enjoy a very *specific* type of climate, which is why the growing regions are restricted to specific altitudes, latitudes, rainfall rates, and so forth. Change that environment significantly and the result would be very destructive.

    That tree survived for millions of years on a planet that faced all kinds of cataclysmic events

    In their current form? Doubtful. All plants either evolve or die off. More likely is that the tree evolved to fit a particular niche that wasn't filled by any other plant. But the current species is now very sensitive to it's growing conditions, as it's exquisitely well adapted to where it grows (as any coffee cultivator will tell you).

    Of course, given enough time, species will typically evolve to new pressures (although they may just as often die out... when was the last time you saw a sabre toothed tiger?). Unless, of course, the rate of change is too drastic, and the species is unable to adapt before those pressures become overwhelming (poor poor tigers)...

  • No cause for alarm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Shivetya (243324) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @12:27PM (#30524806) Homepage Journal

    First off this quote is key

    The discoveries showed how little of the world's plant species had been documented, the researchers said.

    In other words, they are extrapolating, or in layman's terms pulling numbers of out their ass while capitalizing on the global warming scare which they still believe the public to have fully bought.

    Second it is about "wild" plants, meaning not what you tend to find at your supermarket or local bistro.

    whats next? Threaten beer?

  • by Virak (897071) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @12:44PM (#30525014) Homepage

    No, they changed "global warming" to "climate change" because idiots like you thought "global warming" meant that every single point on the planet would monotonically increase year-over-year, and to a lesser extent because "climate change" is more accurate anyway because the increase in carbon dioxide has other effects too, such as ocean acidification. Unfortunately, they failed to consider that idiots like you would think this is more evidence of a massive global conspiracy to steal your freedom and monies.

  • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @12:52PM (#30525112) Homepage

    Humans have adapted to be able to live everywhere.

    Yeah, no kidding. But if the climate *changes*, then we have to actively adapt, and that means some people will die. Heat waves will kill some, cold snaps will kill others. Flooded coastal areas will displace some, while droughts and torrential rains will displace others. Meanwhile, crop and grazing land will be destroyed so that those who do adapt to the changes run the risk of starvation.

    Will humans adapt? Sure! The sufficiently rich will move to more hospitable areas. Sufficient rich farmers will move to new cropland. But the subsistence farmers and the poor who lack the means to move will die.

    But, eh, fuck them, right?

  • by mhelander (1307061) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @01:00PM (#30525216)

    So you start by stating how rational you think the view on terrorism has been, and go on to lament that we don't (enough) apply the same hysteria to climate change?

    With the current level of polemic, those who point out holes in your arguments are painted as akin to holocaust deniers, flat-earthers and creationists and now as apparently so cynical that they care more for a cup of coffee than for people who see their land go underwater.

    It seems so hysterical at times that if someone tries to object to this coffee claim by pointing out that it seems likely that the coffee plant would be able to *adapt* to climate change, the way it and everyone else on this planet has been doing for quite a while, it would almost not surprise me to see him labeled a "creationist"...

  • by Virak (897071) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @01:01PM (#30525224) Homepage

    That's because fighting terrorism merely requires giving up your freedoms, whereas fighting climate change requires giving up your SUV and that shit is serious fucking business.

  • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @01:03PM (#30525254)

    I don't know if younger or less aware drinkers have noticed, but there is a lot of truly horrid southeast Asian farmed coffee that has entered the market. I've been tasting it mixed with more expensive beans to make "morning blends", or used in flavored coffee where its lack of coffee aroma and its aftertaste of lemongrass is concealed. The next time you visit one of those less successful coffee bars, try to get a good whiff of the beans before they're ground to see why they're so much less expensive and so much less successful. The distinction between the richer, more full-scented, quality beans and the weird, always half-priced, Asian sacks of mud, sticks, and a few coffee beans is quite noticeable.

  • by Virak (897071) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @01:13PM (#30525350) Homepage

    You could've phrased it far more succinctly as "Poor people are poor, so fuck 'em!"

  • by homer_s (799572) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @01:19PM (#30525418)
    Maybe you don't, but I certainly do.

    It is the same setup as the Iraq war:
    - all the experts agree
    - if you don't support it, you're a terrorist
    - sudden alarmism because of unrelated events (9/11 for iraq, the al gore movie for this)
    - exaggerated claims (mushroom clouds vs new york under water)
    - scaremongering
    - ignore evidence that shows that the conclusions were assumed


    I don't know much about climate or the statistics behind it. And I didn't know anything about WMDs or the intelligence business. But I know something about human motivations and in both cases, I could smell the BS a mile away.
  • by boombaard (1001577) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @01:40PM (#30525672) Journal
    Awesome. And I bet all these claims can be made by different people with you still feeling "they" are "all" making exaggerated claims, too.
    • All the experts don't agree. (Nor did they in the Iraq war. the difference there was that Cheney et al had executive power, whereas scientists don't. Scientists also have to compete in the media with hacks and politicians. See this yt video [youtube.com])
    • Do you believe/care about everything you're being told in the media? Who cares what those partisan quacks call you.
    • Al Gore != climate scientist. Al Gore is a politician/media figure making money.
    • You feel it is an argument against "climate science" that every (shit) disaster movie after 2000 has been using that as a theme? Astonishing.
    • As said before, the experts don't agree on everything. Also, "citizen-researchers" (blame WSJ [wsj.com] for thinking up this imbecilic word/notion.) are being denied access to data != breakdown of the peer review process.

    "I could smell the BS a mile a way" does not actually prove you're intelligent or insightful. It might just as well prove that you distrust people who tell you you're doing something that is causing something bad. Or something else entirely. But feel free to interpret the CRU "Scandal" as you like to reinforce your own opinions.. just remember it doesn't really prove anything.

  • Re:Daily cup? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by maxume (22995) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @01:59PM (#30525938)

    Shipping a boutique product hundreds of miles from growers that may or may not be fairly treated and then worrying about the minuscule amount of sustainable wood fiber in the accessory is pretty inane.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @02:39PM (#30526540) Homepage

    And if you need an idea of exactly how expensive and time-consuming rebuilding a coastal city is, I suggest you pay a visit to New Orleans.

  • by russotto (537200) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @02:43PM (#30526602) Journal

    Nope, sorry. Coffee trees enjoy a very *specific* type of climate, which is why the growing regions are restricted to specific altitudes, latitudes, rainfall rates, and so forth. Change that environment significantly and the result would be very destructive.

    Coffee grows in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Vietnam, Costa Rica, Mexico, Indonesia, Jamaica, Ghana, Ethiopia, and numerous other places around the world. It has its limitations; it's not going to grow in North Dakota. But it's not quite the hothouse flower you make it out to be.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @02:51PM (#30526716) Journal

    But feel free to interpret the CRU "Scandal" as you like to reinforce your own opinions.. just remember it doesn't really prove anything.

    It proves there is a significant agenda on the part of some of the scientists. Maybe this wasn't a surprise to you (it shouldn't have been if you've paid attention) but it does mean they will have to demonstrate their points with evidence, they can't just say they know because they are experts. Appeal to authority is a logical fallacy when the authority has been shown to be biased.

    Specifically for global warming, this is the evidence I want to see:

    1) I want to see that CO2 causes the greenhouse effect (this is actually fairly well established by evidence).
    2) I want to see that atmospheric CO2 is also increasing (also fairly well established)
    3) I want to see that the global temperature is rising (some folks dispute this, but in fact the temperature record for the last few decades seems not unreasonable to me)
    4) I want to see demonstrated that the rise in CO2 is having a significant effect on the global climate. This has NOT been demonstrated with any degree of certainty.

    I've looked all over to find evidence of number 4, and I haven't seen a conclusive link anywhere. There is, on the other hand, evidence that other unknown processes in the environment are having a bigger effect on global temperature than CO2.

    When people are saying we should divert massive percentages of the global economy without demonstrated exactly what the effect of reducing CO2 would be (this is another unknown; it might actually make very little difference), yeah, that counts as BS.

  • by KeensMustard (655606) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @06:44PM (#30530330)

    So you start by stating how rational you think the view on terrorism has been, and go on to lament that we don't (enough) apply the same hysteria to climate change?

    You've misinterpreted what the OP was saying. I suspect deliberately.

    With the current level of polemic, those who point out holes in your arguments are painted as akin to holocaust deniers, flat-earthers and creationists and now as apparently so cynical that they care more for a cup of coffee than for people who see their land go underwater.

    Well firstly, the denialist movement hasn't found any holes in the theory. Which kind of makes your argument a non-sequitur, but never mind. The reason the term "denialist" is in common use is for the following reasons:

    • The incorrect use of the term "sceptic" to describe the movement.
    • The style of argument used i.e a continual stream of denials, without supporting evidence
    • The close resemblance of the logic used to the logic used by a person in denial. Dealing with Climate Change will be hard work, and painful, and it also requires some people to adjust their worldview.

    It seems so hysterical at times that if someone tries to object to this coffee claim by pointing out that it seems likely that the coffee plant would be able to *adapt* to climate change, the way it and everyone else on this planet has been doing for quite a while, it would almost not surprise me to see him labeled a "creationist"...

    Your use of the highlighted phrase indicates that you either don't understand the issue or are deliberately misrepresenting the issue for the sake of burning a strawman. That is - to be explicit - nobody is claiming that the climate is not constantly undergoing change, and that species don't adapt to it. The problem is the current rate of change leaves species (including us) insufficient time to adapt. To use a car analogy - normal climate changes are like a car accelerating and decelerating for stop lights and traffic. The current climate crisis is a collision. Only a blibbering idiot (or a liar) would equate the two on the basis of (a) actual speed at a point in time or (b) the fact that the car accelerates and decelerates as part of it's normal operation.

  • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @07:07PM (#30530602)

    So in essence "it's probably on a geologic timescale if it's happening at all so it doesn't affect me, fuck my grandkids' grandkids though".

    The "what are we going to do" is everything - people said the same thing about anti-knock additives to petrol - that it would be too expensive and what about all those old cars that need 4 star?! Oh woe, the economy! But we have managed it.

    Changing the way we work industrially is going on all the time - greener solvents, more efficient processes (lower temps/pressures, or higher yield reactions etc), and CO2 is only a small part of that.

    Moving towards different fuels for cars, or carbon neutral systems, carbon capture on industrial scales for power generation if we are serious about cutting emissions from coal plants that aren't going away soon.

    Your only solution was "stop driving" but how about just "stop driving oil fired cars"? There are several useful technologies that could make an enormous difference that are expensive but just need a little funding. The oil industry spends *insanely huge* amounts of money annually on scouting for new sources of oil and gas and on extraction on previously unprofitable fields - some of this capital channeled elsewhere would be very well spent.

    Just because the problem looks difficult doesn't mean it's unsolvable or that we just shouldn't bother.

    The population of the earth is increasing at a huge rate and the pressure on the ecosystem as a whole is only going to go up. At current rates it is not sustainable (in terms of energy, food, living space etc, not just climate emissions). Something is going to have to change at some point, and I believe it is much closer than many people want to think.

  • by KeensMustard (655606) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @07:29PM (#30530840)

    1) I want to see that CO2 causes the greenhouse effect (this is actually fairly well established by evidence). 2) I want to see that atmospheric CO2 is also increasing (also fairly well established) 3) I want to see that the global temperature is rising (some folks dispute this, but in fact the temperature record for the last few decades seems not unreasonable to me) 4) I want to see demonstrated that the rise in CO2 is having a significant effect on the global climate. This has NOT been demonstrated with any degree of certainty. I've looked all over to find evidence of number 4, and I haven't seen a conclusive link anywhere. There is, on the other hand, evidence that other unknown processes in the environment are having a bigger effect on global temperature than CO2.

    I guess you probably don't realise how bizarre that sounds outside of your own head!

    Specifically, 1,2 and 3 mean that 4 is the logical conclusion.

    To accept the basis of the theory of anthropogenic climate change (that is 1-3), but then conclude that the current warming is caused by some as yet unknown phenomena is a leap of faith well beyond most of us.

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