Climate change is such a massive problem, with such potentially catastrophic consequences, many people have trouble getting their heads around the danger we face.
So let’s put things in simpler terms.
Climate change means you will pay more for coffee, every day, for the rest of your life.
And it may not taste so good.
American consumers should expect much more expensive and lower quality coffee due to rising temperatures, extreme rainfall and the greater frequency of severe droughts, said Titus O. Awokuse, head of agriculture, food and economics. of resources at Michigan State University.
Recent studies show that up to 60% of high quality coffee types are at risk of extinction due to the negative impacts of climate change, he told me.
There. Got your attention now?
Climate change is not just an environmental issue. .It is a consumer issue.
The cost of food is rising. This is partly due to supply and labor issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But it is also a reflection of how our climate-changing planets are affecting crops, livestock and other food sources.
Prices reflect supply and demand, and if production costs increase or supply becomes more limited, prices will rise, said Carolyn Dimitri, an associate professor of nutrition studies at New York University.
Climate change is likely to increase production costs and reduce supply, at least in a few years, she predicted, adding that she would be horrified if good coffee became more difficult to achieve.
I will pay almost every price for my coffee, Dimitri said, echoing my thoughts and, I doubt, those of millions of other coffee drinks.
The future of coffee was recently thrown in highest level in four years, partly due to extreme weather in Brazil, the world ‘s largest coffee producer.
Factor in supply issues related to the pandemic and the cost of coffee beans has increased by more than 40% so far this year.
Because large weights of caffeine like Starbucks and Nestle buy their coffee supplies long in advance, not all of our daily adjustment dealers will raise prices immediately.
But some are already warning of higher retail costs.
JM Smucker, producer of ground coffee Folgers and Dunkin, said there is no choice but to raise prices. We are seeing inflationary costs affecting the entire fiscal year, the company’s chief financial officer said during a recent conference call.
Coffee is just one item on supermarket shelves that is getting more expensive due to climate change.
Severe weather is increasing the cost of sugar. Wheat prices are now at their highest level in almost eight years.
Corn, soy, avocados, almonds, honey, citrus are all more expensive.
And this is not just in America. According to the United Nations, food prices worldwide rose by 33% in August from a year ago.
Climate change is a contributor because climate variability, extreme events, and sustained droughts in certain regions can reduce yields and thus supplies, said Sanford Eigenbrode, a professor of entomology at the University of Idaho.
This does not mean that they were convicted. Some experts believe that global food production will adapt to a changing climate.
Climate change will not affect agriculture equally in all parts of the world, said Ellen Bruno, an agricultural economist at UC Berkeley. We have a lot of adaptive capacity.
In other words, crops that start to fail in some parts of the world may thrive in others.
Overall, however, climate change is reaching or has already reached, according to some estimates a point of no return. And that guarantees higher food costs in the future.
A recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s leading authority on climate science, found that droughts that occurred perhaps once a decade are now 70% more common than in the pre-industrial era.
Climate change obviously poses a greater threat than more expensive foods. It means hotter temperatures, heavier rainfall, more droughts, rising sea levels, flooding of coastal areas and other dystopian prospects.
Solutions to a problem of this purpose are not easy. Nations around the world are being called upon to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adopt more environmentally friendly energy sources.
These measures are challenging and costly, and require unity and sacrifice two things that are not always easy in a world driven primarily by self-interest and shortsightedness.
What you can do is do what you need to do is support politicians who recognize the risk and who are prepared to rise above selfish interests and show the leadership needed during a time of global crisis.
Also consider taking your business to companies that are willing to play a role in addressing climate change, although it is not always clear how serious some corporations are in this regard.
Shareholder Institutional Services has found that just over a third of Standard & Poors 500 companies have set ambitious climate change targets. The rest have modest goals or no plans for climate change at all.
Several heavy technological and retail weights, including Microsoft and Walmart, have been among the most aggressive in designing plans to become carbon neutral in the coming years.
But others, especially those in the highly polluting energy sector, have been more cautious about their intentions or have resisted adjustment operations for the sake of planetary survival.
As I said above, this is the hard thing, that requires tough, comprehensive solutions, the behavior in which human beings have historically not shown themselves to be very good.
So keep the focus close. If nothing else, think about the food you eat. Think about your daily coffee habit. Hell, think about my daily coffee habit.
People in the US have enjoyed a long period where crop yields have risen and food prices have fallen, said Dane Scott, a professor of environmental ethics at the University of Montana. That period is likely to be over.
He told me that price increases are now inevitable.
Consumers should expect to pay more for food products to help fund the large-scale agricultural adaptation enterprise in a changing climate, Scott said. The greater the disruption in the Earth’s climate system, the greater the social and economic costs of adaptation.
And your big, square, fat-free mocha, with a pump, without the whip is no exception.
David Lazarus writes the Consumer Confidential column in the Los Angeles Times.