A recent study has concluded 60% of the 124 known species of coffee plants are facing extinction. The second most popular beverage in the world, second only to water, is on the verge of vanishing due to factors which include climate change.
As you can imagine, this threatens the sustainability of the entire coffee industry. Unfortunately, the study showcased that current conservation measures are not enough for wild coffee plants.
Conservation Measures Are Not Enough
The study detailed that 60% of the 124 known coffee species are facing extinction, which equates to 75 species. 35 of the remaining species will be unaffected by these changes, while not enough is known about the other species to make any accurate predictions.
While this is scary, what’s worse is the lack of seed preservation seen on coffee plants. Unfortunately, coffee seeds cannot survive the freeze-drying process used to store endangered plant seeds. This means once the plants disappear, there is no way to artificially resurrect them.
Most Coffee We Drink Only Comes From Two Species
The majority of coffee-related beverages come from just two species of coffee plants, Arabica and Robusta. That means that the other 122 types of coffee plants are not used in traditional coffee blends, but that doesn’t make them any less valuable.
In fact, these other species help coffee plants survive conditions they are not normally used too. For example, while 75 species are endangered when taking into account climate change concerns, the 35 that are not contain genes that can potentially save some of those endangered species of coffee.
Thus, just because the other coffee species are not normally used does not make them any less important than the ones we do drink. In fact, you could say these species may be more important since they can prevent one of our favorite beverages from disappearing.
Is Coffee Facing This Alone
Absolutely not! Coffee is just one of the many plant species that will be facing extinction due to global warming and other conditions. Around the world, 1 in 5 plants is facing the same fate as coffee plants, which is 20% of all plants. Comparatively, 60% of coffee species are facing the same destiny.
Each plant is unique and the causes of why they are facing this risk are as well. It is also important to realize that while global warming is hurting many species of plants, it is also helping others thrive.
More Protection is Needed For Wild Coffee Plants
Sadly, without drastically preventing global warming, coffee plants have a very high chance of disappearing. Due to their properties, freeze-drying seeds is also not an option, unlike many other plants. This puts coffee at very high risk and considering its popularity, the priority to save it should be too.
One of the first things that can be done is placing further protection on the species that need them. Many of these species grow in unprotected areas of the world, which means they can be picked or removed by anyone at any time. Preventing this from happening would be a major step in stopping the coffee plant from vanishing, but it will not be enough alone.
Instead, nations around the world need to get their emissions in check. The greenhouse gas emissions released into the air are the cause of global warming. There is a direct relationship between global warming and plant extinction and if left unchecked, our world will lose a lot of plant species by the end of the century.