Climate Change Threatens Coffee! But Does it Really?

In Environment by Megan Toombs Kinard0 Comments


We all love our coffee, right?

Of course we do.

Who could survive without that delicious caffeine boost every day?

Certainly not me! Whether it’s tea or coffee, I have to have it every morning, and, if we are being honest, at second breakfast, elevenses, and lunch too.

So if you tell me that something is threatening my caffeine intake, I’m probably going to pay attention. But, hopefully, I won’t jump on the bandwagon without doing some significant research myself, hopefully, because, you know…I. Cant. Live. Without. My. Caffeine.

So let’s think this issue through together, and you can give me your feedback in the comments below.

First let’s start with catastrophic climate change.

I’m not talking the changing of seasons or the natural change in climate over the years. Mankind has known and accepted naturally changing climate for centuries, we’ve improvised, adapted, and overcome. We are humans, that’s what we do.

So why now is everyone saying that the earth will be destroyed, it’s our fault, and we’re going to be caffeine deprived to boot?

Is it so we will go screaming into the night, and do whatever they say to fix the problem? I’m going to go with a “yes” on that one.

Alarmism is not the realm of science, it’s the realm of politics. Everyone in politics has a specific agenda, and sadly in many cases so do the people involved in science. So, like politics, we have to challenge all claims, and see what makes logical sense.

Climate alarmists keep saying the “science is settled.” Well I don’t think there is such a thing as settled science. I’m pretty sure “settled” isn’t even in a scientist’s vocabulary.

There are a lot of scientists who do not agree that anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change is a big deal. Yes, most of them agree that humans may add a bit to warming, but the warming is so small as to be really kind of ridiculous when you look at it in the grand scheme of things.

The issue is whether or not a catastrophe is just over the horizon and whether or not it’s worth massive social and economic change to stop.

C02 keeps rising, levels are now roughly 400 ppm, the level that some people claimed would usher in a massive catastrophe. Yet nothing has happened. There is also the small matter that the satellite data shows no warming in 18 years.

Coffee plants are grown in a variety of warm climates and altitudes, so it’s not a crop that is highly sensitive to small changes. So even if the rising CO2 causes a smidge of warming, the coffee will be fine. Even better yet, CO2 is plant food, which means that as CO2 levels rise, plants grow bigger and healthier. Bigger and healthier coffee plants means more coffee for us!

If you want to do further research on this topic I suggest reading’s database of plant growth. They have a database based on the plant’s dry weight, and one based on photosynthesis.  Click on “C” for coffee and scroll down until you find it.

And if you want to go even further in depth, here are two scientific studies that show the positive impacts of CO2 on coffee plant growth:

  1. Ramalho, J.C., Rodrigues, A.P., Semedo, J.N., Pais, I.P., Martins, L.D., Simoes-Costa, M.C., Leitao, A.E., Fortunato, A.S., Batista-Santos, P., Palos, I.M., Tomaz, M.A., Scotti-Campos, P., Lidon, F.C. and DaMatta, F.M. 2013. Sustained photosynthetic performance of Coffea spp. under long-term enhanced [CO2]. PLOS ONE 8: e82712.
  2. Nguyen, Q.T., Kozai, T., Niu, G. and Van Nguyen, U.  1998.  Photosynthetic characteristics of coffee (Coffea arabusta) plantlets in vitro in response to different CO2 concentrations and light intensities.  Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture 55: 133-139.

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Megan is the Director of Communications for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, and Editor of You can follow her on Twitter @MeganToombs.

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