Friday, October 14, 2011

A shortage of java? Not necessarily.

Starbucks execs are warning that the humble Arabica bean may shortly go into short supply, as a result of climate shifts.

What do I think about this? Moi, who drinks probably a good half-gallon of the strongest possible brew per day, and is a most-favored customer at all branches of the Seattle-based chain within forty miles of Unity, Maine?

Well, I think I know far less about coffee cultivation than I would need to know to comment.

But I know enough about genotype, phenotype, climatic zone and climate change to know how to think about it. It's not rocket science. It's just good old fashioned ag sci

With a twist.

The slight difference is that your climate zones, or hardiness zones, or whatever you want to call them, may shift faster than your cultivation and cultivar might.

Not something your average aggie has had to contend with, historically speaking. And your average aggie does have a rep for being, ummm, well, a bit of a plodder.

(A cruel and foul canard -- you try getting your head around all that juju. Especially when the guys from Monsanto, et al, come in with their Wall Street lawyers.)

And so what I think is that there's a small fortune to be made here by the company or individual or even national government of a small semi-tropical nation that can most quickly match current or future variety to future climate zone, essentially put the ag sci alongside the climate sci, and thus identify where the next great coffee growing region of the world will be, where the most cost-effective agricultural land resources will be within that region, what variety of bean to grow there, and, inestimably, how to grow it without large fossil fuel subsidies required.

Job creation, albeit of a somewhat unusual kind (that will get far too usual as time goes on).

Because I may be willing to do without oil heat, incandescent light bulbs, and even gasoline-powered cars to help save the planet, but I'm not sure I physically can help save the planet without me regular cup of joe beside me! And I know I'm not the only one.

Maybe it's time for me to review this obvious addiction.

BTW, I'm not sure how many agricultural scientists there are that get this training elsewhere, but I work with about five or six of them each Tuesday/Thursday.

And that exact kind of problem, ladies and gentlemen, is what we are talking about. That kind of thing.

It's called adaptation.

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