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Climate

Globally, Coffee Crops Setting Records Amid Mild Warming, Contradicting Media

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An Al Jazeera story claims that climate change is threatening coffee production in Vietnam. This is false.

Had Al Jazeera bothered to check readily available data, it would have found that coffee production in Vietnam and globally has repeatedly set new records for yield and production over the past thirty years of climate change.

In the story, “Coffee’s in danger: Can Vietnam’s Robusta Save it from Climate Change?,” Jenny Gustafsson describes how Vietnamese researchers are trying to avoid a climate change-induced coffee apocalypse by modifying the Robusta coffee bean to a flavor profile closer to the Arabica bean.

“In the coffee industry, Robusta is known as the inferior sibling of Arabica, lacking the latter’s complexity and sweeter, smoother notes. Robusta is almost always mass-produced and cheap,” writes Gustafsson. “‘The Robusta market is only looking for the best price. But we can change that,’ Nguyen Van Hoa says.

“They must. The Arabica coffee bean, which is near-universally synonymous with quality coffee, is under serious threat from climate change,” Gustafsson claims. “Reforming the image and quality of the much-maligned – but, as its name suggests, resilient – Robusta coffee bean is crucial for the future of coffee.”

This story has a serious flaw. Real-world data show that the claims about a decline in coffee in general, and arabica beans in particular just aren’t true. Not for the world in general, nor for Vietnam in particular.

First, let’s examine the data on Arabica bean production. Although coffee, like every other crop, has its yearly ups and downs, Arabica bean coffee production has been on the upswing during the recent period of modest warming.

As explored in Climate Realism, here, Arabica coffee production set new records for production in the 2018/2019 growing season. Its second-largest production year came in 2020/2021. Indeed, Arabica bean production increased by 25 percent from 2005 to 2021.

What about coffee as a whole? As discussed repeatedly in previous Climate Realism stories, here, here, and here, for example, the one consistent fact about coffee production is that, like most other crops, its yield and production totals are doing well, regularly setting new records for both.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reports that during the most recent 30-year period over which climate change is measured, from 1992 through 2022 (the last year of available data):

  • In Vietnam, coffee production increased by a little over 1,539 percent, on a yield increase of just over 104 percent.
  • Global coffee production grew by more than 77 percent, on a yield expansion of more than 50 percent. (see the figure below)

During this time, new records for production and yield were set multiple times in both Vietnam and the world as a whole.

Records for global production and yields were both set in 2020, while Vietnam’s most recent records for production and yield were both set in 2022.

In the end, the available data refutes the message of Gustafsson’s story that climate change poses a threat to the continued availability of coffee.

Al Jazeera’s tale of coffee woe is just one more in a long line of “the sky is falling” fairy tales linking a purported problem, that isn’t a problem, to climate change.

When it comes to climate change, the media would have the public believe their alarming dogma rather than the facts, which aren’t concerning.

Top photo by Rodrigo Flores on Unsplash

Read more at Climate Realism

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