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RCP with your coffee?

09 Feb 2022 | News Roundup

In one of his movies, Chuck Norris threatens to hit someone with so many rights they’ll “beg for a left.” Which we mention not because you should consider watching Invasion USA even if you like Norris, or perhaps especially if you do, but because of a National Geographic story asking “Will we lose coffee because of climate change?” Of course, the answer to every such headline question is “No”, including this one. Apparently we will get less, but more cashews and avocadoes. Moreover, if you pursue the links, you’ll also get RCP 4.5 not 8.5, and we’ve been hit by the latter so often we were begging for the former. Now could we please have a news story that hits us with truth not invention?

If you were hoping for good news, we were trying our best. But in fact the actual study uses RCP 4.5, 2.6 and (sigh) 8.5 and finds trouble with all of them. And National Geographic goes on to concede that farmers won’t just sit there and watch crops die, they will adapt, and if one place stops being suitable for coffee another will start, as with cashews, avocadoes and so on ad dawk. But then it performs a singularly ungainly back flip into a perfect all-news-is-bad-news landing: “as Alejandra Borunda writes for us, when University of Nebraska researchers recently analyzed how yields have improved in that Corn Belt state since 2005, they reached a surprising conclusion. The biggest contributor to increased yields hasn’t been genetically modified (GM) corn – it has been the longer growing seasons and mild weather promoted by climate change.”

Whoa nelly. Are you saying warmth is good for plants? That’s not bad news. But don’t worry, they quickly recover. “The problem is, as the heat keeps rising, however, the weather in Nebraska is unlikely to remain as mild.” Given that take, and struggling to grasp that Nebraska is noted for its mild climate, we won’t even ask whether some of the gain is due to increased atmospheric CO2, the famous plant food. If we did, we’d doubtless hear that it was depleting the nutritional content, affecting the flavour or turning it a weird avocado green colour or something.

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