In 1896 a Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius predicted that changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels could substantially alter the Earth’s surface temperature. Forty-two years later Guy Callendar connected said carbon dioxide increases to global warming. A century later, we’re seeing the consequences of our ignorance. Crop production rates are declining. But which crops will go extinct and why?
There are three coffee beans used to make coffee. One is bitter and most consumers don’t like it. Another is so rare that scientists thought it was extinct until a decade ago. The most commonly used coffee bean only grows in specific conditions. Those conditions are becoming harder and harder to replicate. The bees that are responsible for 25% of coffee bean production are dying. The soil that this coffee bean grows in is expected to shrink by 88% in 2050. Insects that love to eat coffee beans are going to be overwhelming, eat the beans, and deplete soil fertility.
Your favorite treat will most likely be gone from grocery stores by 2040. The temperature increase will increase evapotranspiration. Meaning more water leaves the cacao tree faster. Without an increase in rainfall, the trees die from dehydration. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration believes cacao trees could become extinct by 2050.
In 2018-2019, 40% of the honeybee population declined. An increase in parasites and mites that thrive in warm temperature contributed to killing the honeybees. Deforestation and humans unable to properly care for honeybee colonies are also factors. Without honeybees, honey is going to be extinct by 2040.
Avocados are already susceptible to pests and disease without the influence of heat. With an increase in temperature and insects, scientists believe avocados will be eradicated by 2050. A lack of water already contributes to low avocado harvests. 72 gallons of water per one fruit are needed to grow a healthy avocado. Heavy droughts in Mexico have made it almost impossible to grow them.
Over the last few years, chickpea quantity has quickly declined by 40%-50%. The legumes need a whopping 608.6 gallons of water to produce only 8 ounces. With heavy droughts these vegetables are not likely to survive climate change.
Acidification in our oceans is rising making many fish species populations decline. In the last few years, 80 fish species are now extinct. Tropical fish are predicted to decline by 40% in 2050. Due to rising temperatures, overfishing, and general boat traffic in the ocean, three quarters of fish stopped migrating since the 1970s.
Vineyards only succeed in particular growing conditions. High temperatures are projected to destroy wine grapes. Wine grapes are also very sensitive to temperature changes, so inconsistent weather will make them extinct.
Sugar Maple trees grow in stable and specific weather conditions. Additionally, sap only flows when temperatures are above freezing during the day then drop below at night. Without the temperature drop, the sap will remain inside the tree.
These nuts are the most difficult crops to grow. The temperature has to stay consistent. Too much rain and the crops will mold. Too much sun and peanuts won’t germinate. A drought is devastating to the nut, and completely destroys the crops.
While it might seem like bananas would thrive in a warm environment, rising temperatures cause diseases to grow at an accelerated rate. The Panama and Black Sigatoka disease is already evidence of this. The fungus has destroyed an enormous amount of bananas.
This fruit has three stages to producing fruit. The first is flowering, then fruiting, and lastly dormancy. This cycle needs to be continues and perfectly timed to create strawberries. Due to high temperatures, we’re seeing a delay in the flowering process. Considering the water needed to hydrate strawberries, it’s unlikely these plants will survive global warming.
Another group of fruits that flowers before fruiting. Peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, and cherries all belong in this category. Typically, only flowering in warm conditions, an atypical warm month in New Jersey caused the trees to flower prematurely. The subsequent cold freezes caused a large portion to die.
Wheat, maze, and rice
These grains account for 50% of the world’s global intake of food. The high demand combined with oscillating temperatures and unpredictable weather; they aren’t likely to survive the oncoming years.
Crops are estimated to drop by 40% by 2100 due to warm weather. Without soybeans there is no tofu, edamame, miso, or tempeh. Additionally, 90% of US oilseed production is made of soybeans. Oilseed is a vital ingredient in making biofuel.
Scientists have warned countries that grow native vanilla about the oncoming change in weather. The fluctuating temperatures and increased heat are going to eradicate native vanilla in the oncoming years.
What Can We Do?
You may be scared looking at all this information. Climate Change is a scary thing to think about and it’s easy to feel helpless when there’s so much that needs to be fixed. The first step is taking control of what you can. Plant native flowers in your neighborhood. Pick up trash when you see it on the street. Try to reduce garbage waste. Be mindful about shopping for things you need and who you’re supporting with your money. Shop locally to support farmers and vendors. This way you can reduce online shopping habits and support your community. Grow a native lawn instead of mowing every week. Most importantly, be kind to all life. We are nothing without ourselves, each other, and nature.
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