Bad news for everyone who gets up in the morning with their cup of coffee, a new study warns that nearly 60% of the world's wild coffee species are in danger of extinction because of climate change, diseases and deforestation, according to USA Today.
The study was published Wednesday in the science journal Science Advances and said that coffee species are facing increasing threats because of the increased number of droughts spreading pathogenic fungi due to global warming.
The study showed in detail how 75 wild coffee species are considered to be at risk of extinction, one of the highest threat rates recorded for a plant species.
Threatened species include the popular commercial varieties of Robusta and Arabica coffee beans.
The researchers also said that several species have not been seen in the wild or in culture for more than 100 years.
"As temperatures rise and rainfall decreases, the area conducive to growing … shrinks," said lead researcher Aaron Davis.
According to Davis, "given the threats of human encroachment and deforestation, some (coffee species) could disappear within 10 to 20 years, particularly under the heightened influence of climate change".
Experts said that wild species are necessary to maintain a healthy and tasty coffee supply worldwide.
"The coffee we drink today exists through access to wildlife," said Davis, head of plant resources research at Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew.
Robusta, which is one of the most popular coffee species consumed in the world, grew only in isolated forests in the early 1990s.
"It's incredible," Davis said, but many of the areas where wild varieties grow, including Ethiopia and Sudan, are hard hit by global warming.
Davis and other researchers visited Sudan in 2012 to search for wild Arabica species, which account for nearly 70% of the world's coffee but found that it was "dry as a bone" .
"The landscape has completely changed in 70 years," said Hanna Neuschwander, director of communications at World Coffee Research, an industry-funded coffee farm organization, in an interview.
"The pressure is huge," Davis said, noting that significant deforestation would leave nothing in the region in ten years.
"The coffee industry will invariably face challenges that we are aware of, and potentially challenges we do not yet know exist," said Neuschwander. "If these wildlife species are not protected, you have probably paralyzed your ability to solve the problem because you simply do not have the genetic toolbox."
New research shows that 60% of the coffee species found in the wild may soon disappear.
Researchers warn that … https://t.co/EBGX1ZM1u4
Davis said that Arabica and Robusta were both intolerant to drought and low humidity, so that the Arabica could disappear by nearly 60 years ago due to climate change.
"It's a longer-term threat, but its duration is shorter than some might imagine," Neuschwander said. "It seems very far, but it's in my lifetime."
Scientists have called for more funding for seed banks to allow the collection of gene pools and varieties.
Neuschwander said the coffee industry should spend $ 20 million to help solve the problem.
"There is a growing awareness that the success of this industry – which is worth billions of dollars – depends on the health of the factory," said Neuschwander.