13 July 2017
Climate change is really taking its toll on Mother Earth. Average global temperatures have risen sharply in the past few decades. Warming oceans are melting away the polar ice caps at unprecedented rates. And natural disasters are becoming more frequent and intense.
For many, those impacts may seem a world away from daily life, but the truth is that climate change is creeping closer and closer to home. And it’s headed straight for your freezer.
Pretty soon you could be seeing shortages of your favourite foods, including – gasp! – Ben & Jerry’s. We rely on farmers all over the world for our ingredients, and when they don’t have the predictable weather patterns needed for farming, that can mean no cocoa, no peanuts, and no New York Super Fudge Chunk ice cream.
These are the pints we’ve put on our “Endangered Pints List” because, like it or not, the effects of climate change are closer than you think.
Cocoa, aka Chocolate
Scientists predict that cocoa production could drop by as much as 50% by 2050. And that scares our lids off, because chocolate is one of our most favouritest things in the world.
Cocoa needs a very specific environment to thrive: humid air, warm but not hot temperatures, and plenty of rainfall. And in western Africa, where over 70% of the world’s cocoa is grown, they have lots of land that fits the bill – for now. But as temperatures rise and rainfall stagnates, prime cocoa-growing areas will shift to higher altitudes. There’s just one problem – western Africa is pretty flat. So there’s nowhere to go when the land becomes too hot and dry for growing our favourite little brown beans.
Like chocolate, nut trees are very particular about the climate that they thrive in. Most importantly, they need the chill of winter to stimulate their spring growth. So as winter temperatures slowly creep up and up, more and more almonds, pecans, walnuts, and pistachios aren’t getting the winter chill-out time they need. Studies predict that throughout the next century, the earth will become less and less hospitable to nut trees, with those that need the most winter chill time left the most vulnerable.
And don’t even get us started on peanuts. This legume is notoriously fussy, needing several months of consistent warmth and just the right amount of rain. So it’s not good news that the regions that produce much of the world’s peanut supply (China, India, and the southern US) are predicted to see more drought in the future, especially if current greenhouse gas emissions levels remain.
Worried about your favourite nutty flavours? So are we. Like these:
We’re not sure exactly where we’d be without coffee, but we sure wouldn’t be awake and smiling. And nobody’s smiling at the havoc that climate change is wreaking on coffee crops.
Different varieties of coffee have specifically adapted to different climates around the world. That’s what makes them all so unique (and why your coffee snob friends might be so fond of the Sumatra Mandheling but not so keen on the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe on the coffee shop menu). It’s also why even small changes in climate can have a big impact on production. Warmer temperatures, long droughts, extreme rainfall, more resilient pests, and rapidly spreading diseases are all taking their toll on coffee production. And – you guessed it – all those things are associated with climate change.
At this rate, one study predicts that the number of pre-existing regions suitable for growing coffee could shrink anywhere from 65–100% by 2080. That means a whole lot less of your favourite coffee flavour:
Scared yet? We sure are. As the effects of climate change creep closer and closer to our daily lives, it's becoming more and more important that we do everything we can to reduce global emissions and move toward a sustainable future. Be part of the solution, and keep your favourite Ben & Jerry’s flavours alive while you’re at it