Coffee, bacon, wine and maple syrup: when climate change gets personal

Photo courtesy of Bigstock Photo

I’ve got some bad news for everyone. Climate change is coming for the things you love most. First, we heard horrible news came that climate change was affecting maple syrup production in the US. Then came the news that climate change was affecting the crop conditions for coffee beans and wine grapes.

And now, climate change is coming for the bacon.

How, do you ask? How could such a thing be allowed to occur that is practically ruining my Sunday brunch ideas as you read this?

Let's first talk about how climate change will affect my addiction of choice: coffee. Similar to the way mountain pine beetle has started to run rampant in BC from warmer winters, the coffee rust fungus is starting to hit coffee crops, which need defined seasons and can be ruined by too much spring rain or unexpected weather variations.

And Starbucks is already worried about coffee supplies in the coming years. The increased extreme weather we can expect in the coming decade is going to seriously stress coffee crops, making my morning latte more expensive.

Maple syrup is only affecting crops in the Northeastern US for now, but we've only had 0.8oC average warming for now, and most climate scientists think we’ll be lucky to prevent 2oC of global warming. So, what’s happening now in the US where the creation of maple sap requires alternating freezing and thawing cycles will be coming to Canada courtesy of milder winters through climate change.  

So, no coffee and no maple syrup for brunch, at least we've still got bacon right?

Well, I've got more bad news. This summer, drought ravaged 55 per cent of the USA, with 39 per cent of the country experiencing extreme drought according to the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The drought wiped an estimated 17 per cent off the corn crop this summer and is expected to cost $5 billion in insurance costs.

So what’s that got to do with bacon? Pigs eat corn. Higher corn costs means more expensive pig feed and more expensive bacon next year.

As extreme weather increases from climate change, it’s predicted that most of the US agricultural area could become a dust bowl, which is bad news for hungry pigs and bacon aficionados alike.

It’s enough to make you want to turn to drink. Except that the dust bowl will probably also affect grape growing areas in the Napa Valley. Better start stockpiling your favourites. There will be some positives for winemakers in areas like the Midwest in the US, but on the whole it’s going to be prohibitively expensive to move an entire industry north continually as the climate keeps changing.

Those that are luke-warmists would like to tell you to just look on the bright side––we’ll be able to grow lettuce in Siberia. However, in the long run, this experiment that we’re doing with the atmosphere on a global scale involves much more risk and uncertainty around nasty feedback loops than the benefits companies could gain from drilling the newly ice free arctic or growing wine in Alaska.

And when climate change is coming for my bacon, maple syrup, wine and coffee, it’s getting personal. It’s time to fight climate change and stop burning carbon: taking my coffee from me is a bridge too far.

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