The Washington Post has a story about how “climate change could spell disaster for coffee, a crop that requires specific temperatures to flourish and that is highly sensitive to a range of pests. So scientists are racing to develop more tenacious strains of one of the world’s most beloved beverages.”

The problems are laid out this way:

“Climate scientists say few coffee-growing regions will be spared the effects of climate change. Most of the world’s crop is cultivated around the equator, with the bulk coming from Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia and Ethiopia.”

“Rising temperatures are expected to shrink the available growing land in many of these countries … Warmer air essentially ‘chases’ coffee up to cooler, higher altitudes — which are scarce in Brazil and Zimbabwe, among other coffee-growing countries.”

“Temperature is not climate change’s only projected impact in coffee-growing regions. Portions of Central America are expected to see greater rainfall and shorter dry seasons, which are needed to harvest and dry beans. In Peru, Ecuador and Colombia, rainfall is projected to decrease, potentially sparking dry periods.”

“These sorts of changes will pose problems for many crops. But coffee is particularly vulnerable, scientists say, because it has an unusually shallow gene pool. Only two species of coffee, arabica and robusta, are currently grown for human consumption. And farmers traditionally haven’t selected for diversity when breeding either plant — instead, essentially, they’ve been marrying generations of coffee with its close cousins.”

While some scientists and farmers are working on developing hybrid varieties that can withstand the impact of climate change, the story suggests that much of the industry has been slow to rise to the challenge.

KC's View: Some of the reason they’ve been slow, and some of it is just plain ignorance. Or denial.

None of these is a very good excuse.