By now, everyone has heard about how climate change is turning California into a huge desert, causing glaciers in the Antarctic to collapse, and sending polar bears on the path towards extinction. You may not be able to see or feel all of these effects at home, but did you know that climate change might also cost you some of your favorite foods? Due to increasing temperatures and abnormal weather patterns, the supply of many food commodities are decreasing and prices are skyrocketing.
Whether you like it or not, here are five foods that you should prepare to cut down on – or abandon entirely – in the coming future:
The majority of the world’s chocolate is derived from Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, where water supplies are dwindling and temperatures are rising. The International Center for Tropical Agriculture predicts that temperatures in this region will increase by at least 2 degree Celsius (3.6 F) by 2050. These conditions will hasten process of evapotranspiration in the cocoa trees, leading to higher rates of water loss and lower cocoa yields. If the world continues to operate with the same level of greenhouse gas emissions, cocoa production is expected significantly decline by 2030.
Oceans are the largest carbon sinks on Earth, meaning that they absorb a huge amount of the excess carbon dioxide that we release into the air. As a result, ocean acidification has been rapidly increasing, posing a huge threat to a number of sea creatures. Rising acidity presents a particular risk to shellfish and other mollusks because it dissolves calcium carbonate, a key component of mollusk shells.
Furthermore, rising water temperatures and lower oxygen levels will likely result in smaller fish sizes, large declines in fish populations, and an increased likelihood of disease. Already in southern parts of the Northeast, lobster catches have declined dramatically due to a temperature-sensitive bacterial shell disease.
Higher temperatures, long droughts, and heavy downpours have left coffee plants extremely susceptible to deadly pests and fungi. In particular, warmer climates have expanded the habitat of the coffee berry borer, a small beetle native to Africa, and coffee rust, a deadly fungus. As a result, Costa Rica, India, and Ethiopia, three of the top coffee-producing nations in the world, have all seen dramatic declines in coffee yields in recent years.
Research at England’s Royal Botanic Gardens has suggested that rising temperatures could lead to a 90% reduction of naturally occurring Arabica, the most popular coffee species, by 2080. The good news is that there is another variety of coffee, Robusta, which is much easier to grow. The bad news? The general consensus among coffee drinkers is that it tastes terrible.
Sugar maples, the trees that produce maple syrup, are coming under increasing stress due to extreme weather conditions. Warmer temperatures and drier climates are shortening the length of sapping seasons and decreasing the sugar content in sap. As a result, the sugar maple will likely lose much of its habitat and migrate up north to cooler areas. Maple production south of Pennsylvania will probably disappear by 2100, and if average temperatures in the New England increase 6 degrees, sugar maples could completely disappear from the Northeast as well.
Beer is composed of three primary ingredients – water, barley, and hops. The sustainability of each of these components is threatened by climate change. As a result of climate-related droughts, clean water sources are becoming scarcer. In addition, warmer temperatures and extreme weather events have harmed the production of both barley and hops. Lower yields and higher demand for beer have drastically driven prices up.
Many breweries are fighting against climate change by purchasing Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) to lower their carbon footprint. As Travis Holton, owner of Pug Ryan’s Steakhouse and Brewery in Dillon, Colorado, put it, “We only have one earth, and if I can do a little bit more to take care of it I will follow suit.”