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Climate change threatens morning cup of coffee

Researchers at Britain's Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew with scientists in Ethiopia found that between 38 and 99 percent of the areas that can sustain wild Arabica coffee beans may disappear by 2080 if temperatures continue to rise.

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Current rock-bottom wholesale prices for coffee โ€” below cost for many of Latin American growers โ€” and a crushing outbreak of coffee leaf rust, a fungus that slashes harvests, are making their lives a misery. (Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)

Climate change could wipe out the wild Arabica coffee plant in the coming decades say scientists.

Researchers at Britain's Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew with scientists in Ethiopia found that between 38 and 99 percent of the areas that can sustain wild Arabica coffee beans may disappear by 2080 if temperatures continue to rise.

The disappearance of wild Arabica could also have knock-on affects for the millions of people who grow the bean.

Coffee is a crop that is highly sensitive to its climate with just a few degrees difference able to destroy the bean, said Reuters.

Ethiopia, where Arabica originated, is will likely be the hardest hit, said Mother Nature Network, as the country's economy relies heavily on the plant.

Coffee in Ethiopia is grown on commercial plantations, as well as in the wild.

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Arabic will still be able to be produced, said Red Orbit, but its wild variety, with its greater genetic diversity, would be lost threatening the bean's long-term survival.

"The extinction of Arabica coffee is a startling and worrying prospect," the study authors told Reuters.

“The worst case scenario, as drawn from our analyses, is that wild Arabica could be extinct by 2080. This should alert decision makers to the fragility of the species."

Researchers say that the estimates might even be underestimated given that they only account for global warming and not deforestation.

The findings were published in the journal PloS ONE.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/121108/climate-change-threatens-morning-cup-coffee