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CHOCOLATE AT ACCESSIBLE PRICE
70% of the world's cocoa - a particularly heat-sensitive crop - grows in West Africa, a region that will rise in temperature in the coming decades. Farmers will try to plant in higher areas, always cooler, but in this case the geography, mostly flat, does not help. Neither does the data. A 2011 report focusing on cocoa farming, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, predicts that by 2050 the global temperature will rise three degrees, causing "yields to crash and prices to skyrocket" as the land becomes increasingly unsuitable for cultivation in general.
Arabica coffee beans, the most widely consumed variety in the world, accounting for 80% of world coffee production, are obtained from very delicate plants that grow in developing countries along the Equator. An area of the globe in which temperatures are being recorded above normal, a phenomenon that complicates the cultivation of the plant, which needs an environment that is between 15 and 24 ° C. The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) said in a report this year that if the temperature rises between 2 and 2.5 degrees Celsius more, the areas suitable for growing coffee will be radically reduced. Pests are another problem that derives from the increase in global temperature. Arabica is particularly susceptible to a disease called "coffee rust" which, due to increased humidity and temperature, appears in increasingly higher areas. In Guatemala alone, this affected 193,200 of the 276,000 hectares dedicated to coffee in 2013, spoiling 20% of production.
Three decades ago, long before climate research caught the world's attention, winemakers began to notice changes in their vines: grapes were ripening two weeks earlier than expected, with higher sugar content and lower acidity. In 2012, the National Institute of Viticulture gathered in a study the impressions of local producers. One of their conclusions was that since the vine requires very specific environmental conditions to reach its potential, any significant change can affect it. The measures to be taken in this case are scientific and geographical. While some invest to develop more heat resistant grapes, others move their crops to cooler areas. This is how, in the last four years, there has been a boom in England of plantations of grapes originating from the French region of Champagne such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The prestigious Bordeaux producers also have a dark future, according to Jean-Pascal Goutouly, an expert at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research: "By the middle of the century, the climate will no longer be appropriate for Cabernet and Merlot," he said.
Every winter, apple trees lose their leaves and are peeled. This cold period before spring is crucial, because these trees register winter and only bloom when they perceive that the cold will not return. In fact, apple trees grow in areas with harsh climates, and while attempts have been made to harvest them in tropical areas, there was no success. Regarding the rise in winter temperatures, it is likely that we will start to see smaller and smaller harvests of apples, which will lead to an increase in the price. In addition, its flavor will be different from what we know.
Two of the core ingredients of the beer industry face an uncertain future. In a few decades, not only will it be difficult to find a reliable source of water, but it will also be a problem to get hops, especially the kind used to make specialty beers. To develop, the plant requires cold winters and warm summers. In the UK, for example, warmer winters and springs have already resulted in lower-yielding early crops. Scientists from different parts of Europe set to work to find more heat-resistant varieties and implement better irrigation systems. But this is not all: malted barley production is also expected to decline in the coming years for the same reasons, leading to more expensive beers.
FISH AND SEAFOOD
A study from the University of British Columbia, published in 2012 by Canada's Nature Climate Change, confirmed that fish have shrunk in size in recent decades. The reason? Global warming caused a decrease in oxygen in the ocean. The average weight of a fish is expected to drop between 14% and 24% by 2050. And shellfish, directly, are in danger of extinction. A United Nations report explained that ocean acidification, a phenomenon caused by the excessive absorption of carbon dioxide, is making it difficult for organisms such as oysters, scallops and mussels to develop shells. Without their shells, they have the same chance of survival as a swordless gladiator.
In the 1950s, a soil fungus caused the extinction of the Gros Michel variety of bananas in Panama, the most consumed and commercialized, which had to be replaced by the Cavendish we all know. Now, this fruit faces another critical scenario: Costa Rica, which exported more than one million tons in 2012, declared itself an emergency last year, plagued by a plague that affected 24,000 hectares of bananas. Farmers blame global warming for the appearance of the mealybug. The main consequence of this problem is that a large part of the harvest resulted with black spots, and the specimens were rejected both in the United States and in other importing countries.