July 3, 2017
Written by Courtney Columbus
This article originally appeared on NPR.
Ethiopia gave the world Coffea arabica, the species that produces most of the coffee we drink these days. Today, the country is the largest African producer of Arabica coffee. The crop is the backbone of the country’s economy – some 15 million Ethiopians depend on it for a living.
But the effects of climate change – higher temperatures and less rainfall – could take a toll on the country’s ability to farm this treasured crop. In parts of Ethiopia, spring and summer rains have already declined by 15 percent to 20 percent since the 1970s. Climate data shows that rainfall in Gore, a town in southwestern Ethiopia, has declined by more than 40 inches since the 1950s. And the frequency of droughts has increased in recent years, affecting coffee growing regions as well.
Ethiopia could lose from 39 percent to 59 percent of its current coffee-growing areas to climate change by the end of the century, according to a new study published in Nature Plants.