Climate, bees and coffee: global warming strikes again
Material posted: Publication date: 15-09-2017
For many it will be very bad news: by 2050, the world may remain without a natural coffee. According to an international team of researchers, in the next 30 years in Latin America, supplying the entire world coffee, lose from 73 to 88% of their plantations.

The main reason is the decline of pollinators due to global warming. The number of these insects decreases with catastrophic speed, moreover, for them there are new threats.

Member of the research group David Rubik (David Roubik) of the Smithsonian tropical research explains: in nature everything is interconnected.

"Predicting the future, we consider plants and animals (in our case bees) in a single biological system. Our models are based on knowledge about the world, and not on assumptions about what might be if people and animals adapt to climate change," explains the scientist.

Together with colleagues, he modeled several scenarios describing how global warming will affect the countries of Latin America – the largest region exporting coffee.

Scientists believe that the greatest losses in Nicaragua, Honduras and Venezuela: their soil will dry out and simply impossible to grow coffee. But the country with the mountain ranges, such as Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica and Guatemala, unable to win even at higher temperatures.

However, most of the coffee plantations hit not decrease in precipitation and increase in average temperatures, and the reduction of "livestock" bees. Today there are only ten species, which pollinate the coffee trees. The worst scenario of development of events suggest that a few decades, the diversity of these pollinators will be reduced to five types.

What can you do to save insects and continue to enjoy the invigorating (natural!) drink in the morning? Environmentalists have presented several strategies.

First, the team recommends farmers to switch to other crops and production system. In areas where the expected reduction in the number of pollinators, but the coffee, however, will continue to grow, biologists are advised to focus on the preservation of local species of bees. For this it is necessary to plant the coffee trees, which grow best in shady places. This will help to save insects from overheating, experts believe.

Secondly, you should pay attention to other species of bees – those that have managed to adapt to the heat. They live mostly in African countries, and with them there is one problem. The fact that these types of bees have already tried to import to South America: in Brazil, for example, she first appeared in 1957. Since the 1970s, the team of David Rubik is monitoring the pollinators of coffee plants in Panama. Scientists say that in non-native rainforests of the African bees are extremely aggressive, literally be killers. They have already managed to upset the ailing ecosystem.

However, to abandon the African bees, not because they work incredibly effectively. So, in Mexico it was observed that plants pollinated by insects aggressive with the African continent, give us more colors. Accordingly, there is more pollen and nectar for native species.

"African honey bees in the Western hemisphere regulate the temperature in the hive and own body temperature using the water. In hot, but not too dry climate they adapt better. They might be able to survive climate change and continue to pollinate coffee trees," said Rubik.

According to experts, it is also important to pay attention to the preservation of the natural forest cover, and reduce the amount of pesticides that are killing millions of pollinators. In addition, the engineers proposed a solution: replace the bees the drones.

A more detailed study of biologists and ecologists is described in the publication Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

We will add that the wild coffee tree is also under threat of extinction due to global warming. However, the researchers managed to decode the genome of Arabicato save favorite worldwide class.

Today to grow coffee continue approximately 25 million farmers in 60 countries. This industry covers about one hundred million people, and most of them will probably soon lose their work. In General, from pollinators depends, according to scientists, as many as half a billion jobs.


Tags: climate