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Earth Science

Climate, Habitat Threaten Wild Coffee Species 274

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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  • by Xacid ( 560407 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @11:39AM (#30524114) Journal

    Watch now that people will suddenly care about climate change just as people only cared about fuel efficiency when gas prices rose!

  • Re:Not a new warning (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Abcd1234 ( 188840 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @12:15PM (#30524640) Homepage

    As found on the warmlist, this isn't the first time climate change has been accused of threatening coffee. Amazing how climate change seems to be the bane of all existence...

    Well, given that every species on the planet, including ourselves, is thoroughly adapted to their current environment=, I'm a little shocked you find that surprising.

    Of course, species will adapt or die off, but that's really the point: The species we rely on now are exquisitely adapted to their specific climates (coffee has a very narrow growth range, AFAIK, and is very sensitive to temperature, humidity, and so forth), so it should be no great news that their survival is threatened by climate change.

  • by Q-Hack! ( 37846 ) * on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @12:19PM (#30524682)

    Eh... When the climate change happens, I will be ready with my parka and a warm fire.

  • by Anynomous Coward ( 841063 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @01:22PM (#30525462)
    If you haven't seen evidence of a scam yet, you need to open your eyes, remove your hand from in front of them and start looking. Here's a start. [tinypic.com]
  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @02:34PM (#30526428) Journal
    Strange you should mention that. I had a friend who, around the time we invaded Iraq, thought it made sense to invade if we got lower gas prices. Then after the invasion gas prices went up. She was really upset after that and thought the invasion was a waste.

    You'll have to look a little deeper to find the true reason we invaded Iraq (hint: it [newamericancentury.org] wasn't [newamericancentury.org] exactly [newamericancentury.org] a [newamericancentury.org] secret [wikipedia.org]).
  • by vadim_t ( 324782 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @03:30PM (#30527386) Homepage

    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.

    Any holes are holes in the small details. The big picture is that retaining more heat will make things get hotter. That's about as clear as that the earth is round.

    The arguments about the specifics of what exactly is going to happen, but just because somebody got some of that wrong doesn't invalidate the big picture. The weather report may be wrong about that it's going to rain tomorrow, but that doesn't disprove that it rains a lot in London.

    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"...

    Do you realize that "adaption" is a potentially very nasty process?

    People talk of "adaption" as if in the case of coastal cities getting flooded people would just grow gills all of a sudden and happily live underwater.

    Adaption for humans will also be a messy thing. Suppose coastal cities get flooded. Well, we'll adapt, sure, through massive migrations, massive rebuilds of architecture destroyed by floods, and massive creation of new engineering projects like levees to prevent it. We'll definitely manage. However that won't happen for free, and you're going to end up paying for it, with your taxes, for instance. Some people will pay for it with their life for not getting out of the way soon enough, or will have their enconomic situation majorly screwed up.

    Other life no doubt will adapt, but that doesn't mean everything will just get used to the new conditions and otherwise stay the same. It could well mean a species we like dying off and getting replaced with some weed that doesn't mind the new conditions. Over enough time things will rebalance themselves, but not necessarily in a way we will find convenient.

  • by jo_ham ( 604554 ) <joham999@ g m a il.com> on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @04:23PM (#30528348)

    Well, 1 and 2 have been clearly proved - it's clear that CO2 is a very effective greenhouse gas, and that ice cores show that over the past 600,000 years or so the global CO2 concentration has varied, but remained relatively low. It's only since the industrial revolution that CO2 concentration has shot up so sharply, far, far higher than it has ever been over a timescale that makes human existence look tiny.

    Knowing that high CO2 concentrations do affect temperatures, even at lab scale and we're changing the concentration in the atmosphere so drastically, do you not think it might be prudent to prevent it if we can, regardless of whether we know *for certain* that it is raising the temperature of the earth?

    We have the ability to cut the levels of CO2 we emit, so it seems sensible to do so. Maybe it will all be for nothing and we later find that the earth was naturally warming anyway, but we might just find that it was the right thing to do. If we do nothing, it could be far too late.

    I liken this to the widespread use of the "miracle" DDT; sure, it's a great pesticide... until we learned about accumulation in higher predators and the extreme persistence of organochlorines in the environment.

    Or the use of CFCs - a fabulous set of molecules, but with a rather unpleasant effect on atmospheric ozone that wasn't discovered until later.

    Decent scientists on the whole don't have agendas in the same way that oil companies, coal-burning energy companies and governments do (unless they're paid specifically to have an agenda) - it's pretty easy to spot a scientist with an agenda: just look at the research. There's a reason that peer-reviewed research carries weight - reproducible results, by different people, and even dissenting opinions.

    Real scientists don;t mind you checking their data, and there is a lot of it about.

    There's also a very large propaganda machine that is left over from the "more doctors smoke camels" days that is very well funded, whose sole job it is to make people with no scientific qualifications question the science - often with outright lies, or by using the terminology of science as a tool. Just look at the way the term "theory" is viewed by the general public in regard to evolution; not really understanding how science defines the term.

    On the evidence I have seen, I am in the belief that human industrial processes are warming the earth and that we need to do something about it quickly before the damage is very severe. We're not going to die out, and the world isn't going to kill us all like some $100 million Micheal Bay film, but there will be some significant changes that are going to affect a large proportion of the human population if we don't work on the problem. It will likely be the poorest portion of the population in the least developed nations first of course, which is another reason why I think people just want to distance themselves from it: they just don;t think it will affect their daily life, or think it is too big to fix and thus don;t want to think about it.

  • Re:Not a new warning (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ironsides ( 739422 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @06:30PM (#30530136) Homepage Journal
    Then, the question becomes, is the planet warming actually a bad thing? To cite one thing you mention, arable land, this would actually increase in a warmer world. Russia and Canada warming up would open up a very large chunk of arable land to farming or for farming more than one crop per year. Many people tend to say climate change will be bad, but never mention any benefits or to look at the end balance of good and bad.
  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @06:36PM (#30530226) Journal

    We have the ability to cut the levels of CO2 we emit, so it seems sensible to do so. Maybe it will all be for nothing and we later find that the earth was naturally warming anyway, but we might just find that it was the right thing to do. If we do nothing, it could be far too late.

    It's a tradeoff. What exactly are you proposing we do it cut levels of CO2? Stop driving? Cap and trade? Each of these have a cost associated with them. How much are you willing to cut in order change something?

    On the evidence I have seen, I am in the belief that human industrial processes are warming the earth and that we need to do something about it quickly before the damage is very severe.

    On the evidence I have seen, I am of the belief that California will fall into the ocean, but there is nothing we can do about it and the damage will be very severe. In fact, it is already happening [sfgate.com]. This is an effect known as continental drift (and in the case of those apartments, erosion), and it is happening faster than oceans are rising (as the IPCC report mentions, oceans are rising at around 3 mm a year).

  • by KeensMustard ( 655606 ) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @05:48PM (#30539242)

    It is hard for you to believe?

    Yes - you've hit the nail on the head. It's hard to believe. My scepticism is a direct result of the irrational leap in your argument.

    It shouldn't be, because it is such a complex system that we know so little about.

    It's not really that complicated. In a bell jar, CO2 acts as a greenhouse gas. It will do the same outside of the bell jar as well - a change in location will have no effect on the thermodynamic properties of a molecule of CO2. This is high school level thermodynamics. The complexity arise when you need to measure the size of the subsequent effect, as other things come into play - eg dissipation due to conversion into kinetic energy, the temporary effects of absorption by ice melting etc. But these are questions of scale that do not bear upon the actual reality of CO2 as a greenhouse gas, and thus the fact that more CO2 in the system will cause the average temperature to rise.

    The number of unknowns are massive.

    You believe so, yet at the same time, there is daily criticism directed at the practice of climate science from members of your movement. If you think there is so much still to discover, why are you so against the practice of discovery?

    You may assume that 1-3 imply 4 since you have been told that so many times it automatically makes sense to you.

    No, I assume that 1-3 imply 4 because of the laws of thermodynamics. And I assume that the two parts of your theory - that phenomena unobserved by us are nullifying the effects of the increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, whilst other, unrelated phenomena produce the exact same effect that increasing CO2 WOULD have produced - I assume you theory is bollocks. Because, put briefly, it SOUNDS like bollocks, and you have failed to produce a shred of evidence in support of it.

"Oh my! An `inflammatory attitude' in alt.flame? Never heard of such a thing..." -- Allen Gwinn, allen@sulaco.Sigma.COM