Maybe not, but your favorite indulgence will likely soar in price.
America’s staple crops, such as corn, are already under siege from extreme weather and rising temperatures. This is leading to expensive genetic modifications on agricultural seeds, which is only increasing your food costs. Now reports suggest that global warming will hit us where it really hurts – chocolate, coffee, and beer! That’s right, all of your favorite vices may one day disappear.
Over half of the world’s chocolate comes from two countries in West Africa – Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. The cacao plant requires specific conditions to thrive, namely abundant rain, high humidity, and uniform temperatures. Climate change will virtually eliminate these conditions, and these areas will no longer be suited for chocolate in the coming decades. Unless a climate-proof chocolate is developed, by 2050 rising temperatures will push the chocolate-growing regions more than 1,000 feet uphill into mountainous terrain – into a wildlife preservation. This is literally an uphill battle.
It gets worse.
Coffee and beer are facing similar climate change challenges. By 2100, more than 50 percent of the land used to grow coffee will no longer be arable. And barley farmers in Montana are already feeling the effects of a changing climate and unpredictable seasons. Over the last few drought-ridden years, this unforgiving crop – which needs a precise amount of water and sunshine – has dramatically dropped in quality.
Before you start hoarding your favorite candy bars, it may not be all doom and gloom. Researchers at UC Berkeley are teaming up with Mars, Inc. (the company best known for Snickers candy bar) in creating a genetically modified cacao plant that may be able to adapt to a dryer, warmer climate. If the modified cacao plant is successful, the farms can stay put and avoid encroaching on higher ground. Great news! Well, yes and no. If the cacao farms relocate, no doubt chocolate prices will go up to account for moving and transportation costs. If they stay put by switching over to a genetically modified climate-proof chocolate, we’d expect prices to go up regardless, as the farms will need to invest in this new technology. Just in the past decade, food costs for the average family around the world have risen 50 percent, partly to pay for genetically modified seed, and we don’t expect these prices to drop anytime soon.
As changing climate and technology push up food costs, you can only plan ahead to leave room in your budget for higher priced hot chocolate. Have you planned your long-term household budget? Check out the Budget Bookmark, a template showing only the items most vulnerable to the effects of global warming, found within Climate-Proof Your Personal Finances and online.