Climate change is really taking its toll. 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 affects all of us. And it’s headed straight for your freezer.
Pretty soon you could be seeing shortages of your favorite 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 Peanut Butter Cup ice cream.
This is not a drill! Like it or not, the effects of climate change are closer than you think.
Cocoa, aka Chocolate
Western Africa supplies about 60% of the world’s cocoa—and researchers predict that 90% of the area currently used for cocoa cultivation in western Africa will no longer be suitable for the crop by 2050. That scares our lids off, because chocolate is one of our most favorite things in the world.
Cocoa needs a very specific environment to thrive: Humid air, warm but not hot temperatures, and plenty of rainfall. Western Africa has 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 favorite 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 (we get it, we need a good chill-out sesh, too). 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.
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, Nigeria, and the southern US) are predicted to see more drought in the future.
We’re not sure exactly where we’d be without coffee, but we sure wouldn’t be awake and writing this article. So consider us deeply troubled by the havoc that climate change is wreaking on coffee crops.
Different varieties of coffee have specifically adapted to different locations 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 coffeeshop menu). It’s also why even small changes in climate can have a big impact on production. Warmer temperatures, longer droughts, more 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% to 100% by 2080. That means a whole lot less of your favorite pick-me-up flavors, like Coffee, Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz and Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch.
Scared yet? We sure are. But we’re also inspired to act! We need to do everything we can to reduce global emissions and move toward a sustainable, clean-energy future. Be part of the solution, and keep your favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavors alive while you’re at it.
If it’s melted, it’s ruined. It’s true for ice cream, and it’s true for the planet.
It’s going to take more than just the actions of individual companies and people to fight the climate crisis. We need to collectively call on our elected leaders to support a rapid transition to a clean-energy economy. We have all the tools we need—we just need the will to do it.