This Is How Bee Extinction Would Affect Your Morning Cup of Coffee

Everybody knows the crucial role that bees play in the flower and fruit pollination process, but how would their extinction affect the coffee industry?


When it comes to cinema that truly captured the essence of humanity’s impact on the Earth’s delicate ecosystem, there are exactly two films vying for the top spot. An Inconvenient Truth, the Al Gore-championed, Davis Guggenheim-helmed documentary about man-made climate change. And of course, Bee Movie, the nature documentary* (*Adventure/Comedy) which provided the world with two morals: first, bees wear sweaters, and second, bees play an incredibly crucial role in maintaining nature’s frail balance.

When the bees in the film stop doing their jobs, they flounder and wilt away, and in turn, the fruits fail and the whole world hangs in the balance. This plot point is scientifically sound; bees play an incredibly crucial role in cross-pollination, a process needed to continue reproduction of flora the world over (here are five plants you can plant right now to keep bees buzzing in your own garden). One particularly not-frequently-thought of crop that will be inordinately affected will be Latin American coffee plants.

According to Popular Science, new research from the National Academy of Science has revealed that initial projection way underestimated the effect that climate change will have on bees, and in turn, your morning cup of coffee.

Coffee grown in the Latin America requires cool, shady, mountain environments, and as is, these regions were being adversely affected by climate change, shrinking each and every year. According to one study, the coffee growing regions of Latin America could decrease in size by 88 percent by 2050.

Pablo Inoch, an agronomist with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Hanoi, Vietnam, stressed the importance of the bee population when it comes to coffee production.

“Bees are vital to the integrity of coffee plots,” Imbach said to Popular Science.“Without the services they provide, coffee yields will drop, and this will directly affect the incomes of the smallholder farmers. If there are bees in the coffee plots, they are very efficient and very good at pollinating, so productivity increases and also berry weight.”

The research points to the extinction of half the species of bees in the growing region, from 10 species to five.The coffee industry employs an estimated 100 million people worldwide, and a change in the growing process would not only lead to billions of dollars worth of losses but would also have a truly scary human impact.

Climate change is already affecting how you sleep and now it’s trying to affect the way you wake up. You can do your part to help combat climate change by making small changes, like minding your p’s and q’s when it comes to plastic pollutants, or by changing your diet. And if the bees don’t inspire you, maybe give Pope Francis a listen—here are nine of his most inspiring quotes on climate change.

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