Will Chocolate Become Extinct Due To Climate Change? Here Are The Foods We Might Lose.
Posted by NewsWeek.com on January 05, 2018
A lot of the Internet-reading public spent the beginning of their New Year scrolling past predictions that chocolate could be extinct by the year 2050, leading to a slightly frantic dialogue about whether it could be spared via candy company-sponsored genetic engineering.
The chocolate doomsday news was somewhat overblown online; the source of this week's mania was a two-year-old report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But a point it raised was that in a lot of cases, climate change is shrinking the regions where our favorite foods are able to grow. Which means that rising temperatures will render certain foods inaccessible not because they'll go extinct right away, but because they're potentially about to become insanely expensive.
"Unfortunately, cacao trees don't thrive in the temperate climate of the continental United States," the NOAA reported in 2016. "Chocolate grows best in the places where it would quickly melt in your hands. Over the next several decades, those places may grow warmer, drier, and less suitable to cacao cultivation."
In 2015, New York Magazine caused a similar panic with an article titled "Have You Eaten Your Last Avocado?" A lot of avocados come from increasingly parched regions like California and Mexico, and growing one pound of avocados requires a rather incredible 72 gallons of water. For context, one pound of tomatoes requires nine gallons, according to New York Magazine.
In 2016, Chipotle reassured panicky customers that avocado shortages in Mexico would not cause them to hike guacamole prices. This news was followed a few months later by a wave of articles announcing that avocado surge-pricing was imminent after all. And then after that, the news that Chipotle shares had promptly nose-dived, like a predictable but nonetheless very upsetting flip-book.
“Once it hits Chipotle, people think, Wow, we better do something about this climate-change thing,” climatologist Eric Holthaus told New York Magazine. “You can see all these satellite photos of melting Arctic ice, and read reports about changes in the jet stream, but when it starts hitting Chipotle, that’s when people pay attention."
We might also be priced out of almond milk. About 99 percent of the U.S. almond supply comes from California, according to the Sacramento Bee. But the land there is so parched that it takes more than a gallon of water to grow one single almond.
But those who can still afford almond milk might not have any coffee to put it in. The regions used for growing Arabica beans are becoming too hot to produce anything but extremely gross coffee, and 70 percent of the world's supply might be gone by 2080, according to outlets like the BBC.
And because climate change may have doomed the world's honeybees once and for all, we could face losing untold quantities of our favorite foods without the benefit of their pollination. If it's of any comfort, quinoa might still be okay.