When All The Coffee Is Gone …

I’m sure this isn’t exactly breaking news, but climate change is real. It’s happening as we speak. Melting ice caps are causing sea levels to rise, with sea ice at the lowest extent ever recorded for the time of year. [1] According to NASA, flooding, droughts and hurricanes are likely to grow more intense in the decades to come. [2] And increasing temperatures worldwide are resulting in further endangered wildlife – which means a 1.5°C average rise may put 20-30% of species at risk of extinction. [3] Even cosmologist, Stephen Hawking claims that if things carry on the way they do now, “a disaster, such as nuclear war or global warming will befall the earth within a thousand years.” [4]

The evidence is everywhere we look. Yet against all odds, our race continues to pump greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. The point just doesn’t seem to be hitting home. In fact, more than a quarter of Americans are climate change skeptics. [5] Yep, those pesky Americans are at it again. A significant portion of their population strongly believe that global warming doesn’t exist – meanwhile, the United States remains the second-biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, just behind China. [6] It’s madness. So with scientists, charities, celebrities and organisations across the globe striving to make us change our ways, what could possibly make the whole world see how important an issue this is? I’m no activist, but I believe the best way to influence attitudes about the topic is to educate everybody on how it will affect them directly.

It’s all very well telling people that polar bears’ habitats are rapidly disappearing, but when those people are sat all cosy in their living rooms watching Breaking Bad thousands of miles away, it’s hard to contemplate how this could possibly affect them. This, my friends, is what I’m going to attempt today. How? By focusing on the single most influential and disastrous change that’ll soon become a reality thanks to global warming: Coffee. Laugh if you will, but this is a serious matter. For those who are unware of this, I’m sorry to be the blogger to break it to you – but the nation’s favourite hot beverage won’t be around forever. Not even close.

 

Image by fireskystudios.com on Unsplash

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According to The Independent, due to rising temperatures, pests and fungi, ‘Wild coffee is expected to be wiped from the face of the planet by the year 2080.’ [7] The effects have already begun to surface. ‘Between 2002 and 2011, Indian coffee production declined by nearly 30 percent.’ [8] And it doesn’t stop at coffee. Global warming is effecting everything from bananas to grapes to cocoa. By 2050, the temperature is set to increase by 2.1% in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, the two countries responsible for producing half the world’s supply of cocoa. [9] Now, one might argue that the absence of chocolate would definitely have a more substantial effect on society than that of coffee beans, as many people enjoy the snack more than drink coffee. But I disagree. I believe that the death of coffee will change our daily lives much, much more.

For one, ‘Coffee supports the livelihoods of 125 million people around the world’. [10] But this fact alone isn’t enough to sway opinions and incite action. So, allow me to bring it down to our level. Apart from the fact that it tastes great and keeps you temporarily warm throughout the winter months, coffee is what for many makes those early mornings, harsh commutes and strict deadlines bearable. It gives us that extra little boost we need to get things done. Some of you might be asking yourselves at this point, ‘Wait a second, I thought this was supposed to be a creative blog? What does global warming have anything to do with the creative world?’ A fair question, but one that has an obvious answer.

The myth goes that many artists and musicians throughout history have been inspired by the use of drugs. Whether or not this is actually true is up in the air. What I can tell you though, from personal experience, is that coffee is a great thing to have in your life if you’re a writer. Because the drug of choice for writers everywhere is (you guessed it!) caffeine. Ian McEwan, of whom I am a considerable fan, said in an interview with The Paris Review, ‘I inherited my father’s work ethic – no matter what he’d been up to the night before, he was always out of bed by seven a.m.’ and also that, ‘I aim for about six hundred words a day and hope for at least a thousand when I’m on a roll.’ [11] Authors that churn out novels year after year for our pleasure are – there’s no other word for it – machines. I can barely get out of bed before eleven a.m. if I know I don’t have to. So how the hell do they do it?

Well the most likely answer is that they are driven individuals. They have an unrelenting passion for their craft, and it’s this that continues to fuel their creativity. If this is the case, fair play. I have nothing else to say on the matter. But, come on! Where’s the fun in that? Can’t we just theorise for a moment? Can’t we just imagine that there’s some sort of conspiracy going on? Something that all writers possess that, if utilised in the perfect manner, can transform any ordinary person into a famous, best-selling novelist? Of course we can! When we ponder for several milliseconds, there’s only one conclusion we can surely draw: novelists are only able to write as much as they do because they drink coffee on a daily basis. Mind … blown.

Jokes aside, while coffee is by no means vital for creatives, you might be surprised to discover how many of us actually resort to the infinite variations of the drink to keep our wits about us. I, for one cannot sit in front of a computer screen for hours on end without eventually sticking the kettle on. I’m certain that I’m not alone in this. So, with this in mind, what will happen to productivity when coffee is out of the picture? I’m not just talking about creative productivity here; I’m referring to every worker in every industry who relies on their morning cappuccino to get into the right mindset. My guess is that it will plummet. A lot.

Sure, coffee isn’t the only thing with caffeine in it. We’d still have energy drinks, Coca Cola – hell, even your average cup of a tea has a smidge of caffeine in it. But for many, the world just won’t be the same without coffee. That much is clear. If you have a favourite coffee house (Costa, Starbucks, Caffe Nero, Coffee Republic, Lavazza, Pret A Manger or just the independent café near your work) it will inevitably soon be in a fight for a survival. Coffee has become such a cultural staple – such a significant presence in our everyday lives – that we’ve grown to take for granted, like the many other things that will soon be gone because of this.

Can we change our ways and save coffee from extinction? Maybe. But honestly, it’s looking grim. The coffee bean has been around for longer than we have, but it’s future is now in peril thanks to us. We basically have two options: come together, mend our ways and try everything we can to save the coffee bean – or come to terms with its demise and just enjoy what’s left of it while we still have the chance. I’ve made my decision. What will yours be?

 

Sources

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/25/arctic-ice-melt-trigger-uncontrollable-climate-change-global-level

[2] http://climate.nasa.gov/effects/

[3] https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/effects-climate-change

[4] http://www.climatechangenews.com/2012/01/06/stephen-hawking-warns-of-climate-disaster-ahead-of-70th-birthday/

[5] http://uk.businessinsider.com/public-religion-report-climate-change-2014-11

[6] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/apr/21/countries-responsible-climate-change

[7] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/coffee-could-be-extinct-by-2080-due-to-climate-change-destroying-areas-suitable-for-growing-beans-a7222241.html

[8] http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science_and_impacts/impacts/impacts-of-climate-on-coffee.html#.WEH69VyQrvg

[9] https://www.climate.gov/news-features/climate-and/climate-chocolate

[10] https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/23/science/climate-change-threatens-worlds-coffee-supply-report-says.html?mcubz=1

[11] http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/393/ian-mcewan-the-art-of-fiction-no-173-ian-mcewan

 

(Article correct as of November 2016)

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