Jerry Waters, Contributor
I was recently horrified to discover that man-made climate change is threatening the very gasoline that fuels human existence: coffee. These dreadful tidings are enough to move the hands of my personal Doomsday Clock rapidly forward to display a quick two seconds to midnight. Folks, this is a DEFCON 5 situation that requires immediate attention and the kind of rapid global action that can only occur after unhealthy abuse of espresso.
So, the problem is that rising temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns have already begun to affect the Latin American coffee crop. The biggest pollinator of coffee crops happens to be the killer bee whose work is vital for high commercial yields. Aside from temperature and precipitation changes, the killer bees are also losing habitat quickly due to humans destroying their homes.
Compounding these issues, killer bees really don’t much like humans messing with them and beekeepers aren’t exactly fond of handling critters with “killer” as their descriptive moniker. As all these compounding factors threaten coffee production, it is feared that if some major corrective measures aren’t taken that the industry could have some very rough times ahead.
As I write and sip my very bold Colombian morning blend, it drives home the point about how interconnected we are as a planet. I never thought that I would be thanking a killer bee for my morning joe, nor did I imagine that I would suddenly be very concerned about her survival. In fact, too many Americans are blissfully oblivious to the rampant global destruction that’s caused by their unquenchable consumerism.
As my java kicks in, I think that all coffee-loving Americans need to start doing their part to ensure that the international companies that bring us all these products we desire are doing it in an environmentally responsible way. This revelation about the contribution of the killer bee to my caffeine addiction brought home the reality of the fragility of our ecosystem.
From the Pacific Trash Vortex to the earthquakes caused by fracking, the selfish human desires for profit and self-indulgence are wreaking havoc on our planet. Of course, it is politicized because it costs more money to ensure that the utilization of natural resources doesn’t result in their depletion or become the catalyst for a chain of events that harm other living things and biomes.
Somehow, we all keep forgetting about our symbiotic relationship with the killer bee.
In this age of seemingly infinite consumerism with the carcasses of plastic bottles and K-cups seemingly everywhere, I can’t pretend to know any quick fix or magical solution. I think it simply begins with awareness followed by a personal commitment to think about the consequences of your lifestyle choices. Maybe, it starts with finding out if your coffee is produced by a responsible grower who doesn’t exploit his workers in the fields and understands the great value of the killer bee to the yield of his crop.
So much of this debate over man’s impact on the climate is absurdly obvious as we continue to pave and clear-cut and mine and try to force nature’s hand. As a species, we’ve got to become much more aware of our footprint and we must commit to preserving the delicate balance of our planet. We have no choice but to inject politics into the debate or we risk more profiteers, like Trump, shredding global agreements to curtail pollution.
I can probably live without my iPhone and certainly don’t need a toaster connected to WiFi, but when you start talking about coffee shortages, you have my undivided attention. So, let’s make sure we do everything we can to help the killer bees keep killing it.
Stand in solidarity with us. tea drinkers, because you may be next. Maybe, this is what folks mean when they say I need to get “woke”…