I couldn’t help but notice that two of the hottest Google searches today are chocolate-covered strawberries and Nevis, an island in the Caribbean Sea. Both, it’s important to note, are threatened by global warming and climate change.
Nevis Threatened by Global Warming & Climate Change
Of course, Nevis, being a small Caribbean island, is threatened by rising sea levels and unprecedented, extreme hurricanes. I assume it is a top search due to it being a nice place for a romantic getaway, and thus a Valentine’s Day gift. Though, perhaps it is due to a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Justice Breyer, being robbed at his vacation home there by an intruder armed with a machete. In any case, vacation homes and romantic getaways to such picturesque, idyllic islands become increasingly threatened the longer we wait to stop global warming. So, today is as good a day as any to remind people of that.
Chocolate Threatened (and Already Suffering) from Global Warming & Climate Change
Affecting perhaps a larger portion of the population, it’s well-known that chocolate is threatened by global warming. These days, chocolate is as accessible as water… sorry, it’s probably more accessible than water (in the developed world). And, apparently, chocolate-covered strawberries are the food of choice on Valentine’s Day. However, if we’re as complacent as we have been about global warming for long, that might not always be the case.
“[O]ver the next 20-40 years, rising temperatures in West Africa — the world’s most important cocoa-growing region — are expected to make the area too hot to grow this key ingredient to chocolate,” Alyson Kenward, PhD, of Climate Central writes. “The projections come in a study released in September 2011, from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture.”
Think it’s just hippies who are concerned about this? Think again. Two of Mars, Inc.’s top scientists recently wrote on the topic in Scientific Amercian, saying:
“Beyond the usual difficulties, growing conditions seem to be getting worse. Weather extremes such as floods, droughts and windstorms have always made farming in the tropics difficult. Climate change is beginning to intensify these extremes, which could worsen pest and disease infestation and disrupt water supplies. The 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted that by 2020 yields in Africa from rain-fed crops — which make up the vast majority of African crops, including cacao — could be reduced by up to 50 percent in some countries.”
In other words, global warming and climate change are a serious threat to numerous crops, including cocoa.
Even this year, “drier than normal conditions in West Africa during December and January have damaged enough crops that there won’t be enough cocoa to meet this worldwide demands,” Kenward writes.
I’m not sure of any global warming or climate change effect projected to significantly harm strawberries, but I have to say that I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if there were one—global warming and climate change threaten crops in so many ways.
Cocoa Decline Threatens Millions of Family Farmers
Cocoa comes from small farmers to a large degree (compared to other global crops). Thus, global warming threatens the livelihoods of countless small farmers of cocoa. “Unlike most other major crops in the world, cocoa is largely grown on small farms, each owned an operated by single families. According to the World Cocoa Foundation, the average cocoa farm is only 5-12 acres large, which means there are between 5 and 6 million cocoa farms around the world to meet our demand for chocolate,” Kenward notes.
Aside from our own addiction to chocolate, threats to cocoa harms the little guy, small farmers, and cause circumstances for many African farmers that I’m sure none of us would like to face.
Not fun news, I know. But who said Valentine’s Day was fun!?
In all seriousness, though, if you care about Caribbean islands like Nevin and chocolate-covered strawberries (or chocolate at all), perhaps its time to start taking more global warming action!