Sandy. Katrina. Global civil war. Polar bears. Pancakes.
Everyone seems to have their own come-to-Jesus moment on climate change. I had mine today.
I personally don't know any polar bears and the newly-strengthened levees seemed to hold admirably during Isaac. New York's far away and, like most people, I am simply unable to imagine the streets of Miami, Manhattan, DC and my beloved New Orleans utterly submerged.
(Actually, New Orleans has always been inevitable, but we're a cheerfully fatalistic lot down here).
Retired admirals and generals warn of forced mass-migrations, worldwide food shortages and water wars. Climatologists paint pictures of weather gone wild, an American Sahara balanced by glaciers in Glasgow. Hell, warming could even lead to extraterrestrial invasion, if the boffins at NASA are to be believed.
It all seems too big, too dire, to be believed. It doesn't really seem real until it hits home.
The pancake story almost did it for me, until I realized that a lack of maple syrup won't be my greatest morning complaint if there's no wheat for the flapjacks.
Now, today, I read a report from Kew Gardens that froze my blood.
A study conducted by scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in collaboration with scientists in Ethiopia, reports that climate change alone could lead to the extinction of wild Arabica coffee (Coffea arabica) well before the end of this century. Wild Arabica is considered important for the sustainability of the coffee industry due to its considerable genetic diversity.Put shortly, if nothing is done to ameliorate the change in global temperatures, by 2080, there will be no more coffee.
The Arabicas grown in the world’s coffee plantations are from very limited genetic stock and are unlikely to have the flexibility required to cope with climate change and other threats, such as pests and diseases. In Ethiopia, the largest producer of coffee in Africa, climate change will also have a negative influence on coffee production. The climate sensitivity of Arabica is confirmed, supporting the widely reported assumption that climate change will have a damaging impact on commercial coffee production worldwide. These are worrying prospects for the world’s favourite beverage – the second most traded commodity after oil, and one crucial to the economies of several countries.
Look, I can drag myself inland hundreds of miles, foraging in the ruins of industrial civilization and fighting off armies of crazed cannibals with the best of them...
... but I damn sure can't do it without a cup of decent coffee first.
So that's it. We are going to tackle this problem. We will meet the technical challenges. We will overcome political intransigence. We will beat this.
Because you don't want to deal with me with no coffee.