Prevent a New York Fracking Train Wreck—Submit Comments to the DEC Today
As of today you may file a response to the proposed fracking regulations to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) online or via snail mail. I encourage you to do so. This may be your last opportunity to comment on how shale gas wells are permitted in New York. If your area does not have a political carve-out in the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS), and if your town or city does not have a land use plan and ordinance that addresses shale gas industrialization, then the state regulations will govern where wells are drilled. After this, all you may be able to do is protest a State Environmental Quality Review review, file a Section 78 proceeding to try to block a permit or sue the frackers. In that regard, put the DEC on notice now, in writing by commenting on the proposed regulations.
Public Comment Period Open
Comments will be accepted on the draft regulations from today through 5 p.m. on Jan. 11, 2013.
You can submit comments on the web at the New York State High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF) Comments page of DEC’s website.
You can mail your comments to:
Attn: Draft HVHF Regulations Comments
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Albany, NY 12233-6510
Snail responses are more effective. The online form does not address all the HVHF issues, in fact it ignores the new proposal to allow horizontal wells to be drilled under rivers and lakes.
Form letters only count as one response. Responses from governmental agencies and groups are important. If your group or environmental nonprofit organization does not respond to the regulations get a new group or environmental group, preferably a good one like Earthjustice.
The proposed regulations ignore almost all surface uses and they ignore surface property rights completely. The regulations ignore every surface use except for “inhabited dwellings," (which does not include housing under construction) and a “places of public assembly” which are defined in New York as public theaters, auditoriums, restaurants, etc.
In plain English, this means there are no setbacks for shale gas wells from school yards, daycare centers, out-patient clinics, factories, warehouses, office buildings, play grounds, etc.
Likewise, there are no gas well setbacks from any surface property lines. A shale gas well can be drilled right next to your property.
This willful lack of protection for the built environment make the regulations a textbook argument for local land use ordinances. It also makes them ripe for litigation either as written or during subsequent challenges. The DEC is fully aware of all this, but would not fail to point it out in writing.
The proposed regulations are, of course, wholly out of sync with, and in many places contradictory to the draft SGEIS. The regulations are uninformed by any health studies and are completely devoid of any scientific underpinnings. That is because they are in fact drilling regulations, focused on how wells are drilled—not on environmental safeguards.
New York does not require the operator to submit their entire drilling program for review, they can apply one well at a time, when, in practice, multiple wells may be planned. This ignores the industrialized shale gas forest, for the tree of one well permit application. The regulations are silent on the cumulative impacts of shale gas infrastructure—gas field processing plants, gas field compressor stations, gas gathering systems or heavy trucking, other than near the well site.
There are few changes from the September 2011 draft. The setback of a gas well from a water well has been increased from 100 feet to 500 feet, but there are no peer reviewed studies to indicate that, given Upstate’s problematic topography and hydrology, anything less than 3,000 feet would suffice to keep a groundwater well from being gassed. On the other hand, they have eliminated the requirement for 2 feet of freeboard in a drilling pit—it can now be filled to overflowing.
Feel free to use my collection of responses as a guide. They include papers and input from Dr. Ingraffea, Dr. Bishop, Lou Allstadt, Brian Brock, Jill Wiener, Deborah Goldberg, Karen Edelstein, Kelly Branigan, Walter Hang, Bill Fischer, Art Palmer, Paul Rubin, Rachel Treichler, Team Slottje and other experts on specific topics. As received, will add input from Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, etc.
If you would like a paper in Word, send me an email—[email protected] Other groups will publish their responses, they can serve as guides as well. You can copy and paste sections of other people’s responses to the online form or snail mail. Just be sure to add your own input and copy relevant papers. Focus on the most egregiously bad aspects of the regulations:
1. Inadequate protections for surface uses
The only structures protected by setbacks in the proposed regulations are “inhabited dwellings” and “places of public assembly.” (Section 560.4 Setbacks). Although “inhabited dwelling” is not defined in the regulations or the ECL, it is defined in various New York state codes as synonymous with a “residence” which would not include a motel, hotel or hospital. An “inhabited dwelling” would not include an uninhabited house or apartment under construction.
“Place of public assembly” is not defined in the regulations, but it is defined in building and fire codes as being public meeting rooms, auditoriums, theaters, restaurants, etc. Per the Department of Health, this does not include the following: “Places of public assembly shall not include halls owned by churches, religious organizations, granges, public associations or free libraries.”
This means that office buildings, warehouses, retail stores, playgrounds, public parks, golf courses, organic farms, barns, stables, marinas, factories, out-patient clinics, hospitals and schools are not specifically protected by the regulations.
The new regulations would enable multiple well pads to vent raw gas for up to two (2) days after completion. (556.2 (a & b) Given the lack of specific setbacks in 560.4, this means that shale gas wells could gas school children, livestock and home owners.
Although a shale gas well can clearly be permitted next to a school yard, etc. under these regulations, the DEC’s pat response has been “We would never do that.” If they would never do that, then it should say so in these regulations as named protections, as no drill zones.
The proposed 500 foot setback is on the low end of setback in state and local ordinances.
2. No protections for surface property rights
Surface rights are not protected in the regulations, other than the two uses identified in 560.4. In fact, surface rights are virtually ignored in the regulations, since there are no setbacks of HVHF wells from property lines. The only setbacks for drilling pads are for “spacing units” which are based on subsurface rights, not property lines. See for instance Section 553 Well Spacing.
When the regulations refer to “correlative rights” they are referring to subsurface rights, mineral rights. They are not referring to surface uses, since surface rights are not protected in the regulations: there are no HVHF well setbacks proposed from property lines.
3. Inadequate protections for water supplies
Setbacks from private water sources (560.4 (a) (1) Setbacks) are limited to 500 feet from private water wells and springs. Unfortunately, given Upstate New York’s problematic hydrology and topography, that would guarantee that shallow water wells will be contaminated with methane migration from wellbores. Since under those hydrological conditions, high levels of methane contamination are apt to extend up to a kilometer from a shale gas well.
Setbacks from aquifers, which are water sources tapped by public and private wells, are limited to “Primary Aquifers” (560.4 (a) (3)) which only serve large population centers.
There are no protections, no setbacks for the rest of the state’s aquifers. There is no scientific rationale for the disparate treatment, it is simply a case of environmental gerrymandering.
There is a setback from “100 year floodplains” but, in Upstate New York, “100 year floodplains” are breached with increasing regularity, so, until they are redefined, this should be the 500 year floodplain.
4. Lack of protections for state lakes and rivers
There is a new loophole (Section 52.3) that would allow horizontal well laterals to be drilled under every lake in the state except the New York City reservoirs, and every river and major stream.
Since there are no specific setbacks for many of these water bodies, that means wells could be drilled on the shoreline hard by the stream or lake—insuring that they would be contaminated with run-off, spills and methane mobilized by aging wellbores. To form spacing units, adjacent properties next to the lake, river or stream could be compulsively integrated against their will. The state agency that would lease the rights under the lake or river, permit the drilling and compulsively integrate the adjacent owner is all one in the same: the DEC. This loophole needs to be closed—no laterals should be allowed under state lakes, rivers and streams.
5. Lack of protections for state parks and forests
A new loophole (190.8) allows gas wells to be drilled laterally under state parks and forests from outside. Since there are no property line setbacks in the regulations, this means that a park or forest could be ringed by drilling rigs. The proximity of shale gas wells would increase the likelihood of groundwater contamination from drilling, spills, run-off and methane migration.
To form spacing units, adjacent properties next to the park or forest could be compulsively integrated against their will. The state agency that would lease the rights under the park, permit the drilling and compulsively integrate the adjacent owner is all one in the same: the DEC. This loophole should be closed and state parks and forests protected from shale gas industrialization.
6. Failure to address the cumulative impact of multiple well infrastructures
The regulations do not require the operator to submit their entire drilling program for multiple wells. See for instance Section 552.1 (a). Other states require the entire drilling program to be submitted for review. The regulations do not address gas field processing plant, gas field compressor stations in the field, gas field gathering systems or trucking activities other than at the well site.
7. Inadequate Environmental Oversight
Under a loophole in the regulations, (550.2) New York is one of the few states that tasks its minerals management agency, the Division of Mineral Resources, (DMR) with environmental oversight for the gas well permits it issues.
Since the DMR’s mission is primarily to promote drilling, this compromises their objectivity as an environmental steward. New York has no autonomous environmental oversight over shale gas industrialization.
This is evidenced in the regulations themselves—they do not protect the built environment, water supplies or the natural environment. Environmental oversight over drilling should be removed from DMR to another department.
8. The regulations represent an unfunded burden on state agencies and local government
The State of New York will derive no direct benefit from HVHF wells since it has no state tax on gas or oil production. The state proposes a token fee for well permit applications—$2380 for a 6,000 foot well. This is insufficient to cover the costs of a comprehensive review of the application, much less offset the negative impacts of the well itself. This means that the state will have no funds to repair roads damaged by frack trucks, no funds to mitigate environmental damages, and no funds to assist counties and towns on the negative impacts of shale gas industrialization.
9. Failure to disclose fracking chemicals poses a health risk
Under a loophole, 560.3 Proprietary Fracking Fluids, are exempt from disclosure. Nothing should be exempt from disclosure, since if the frack fluids sicken someone, the victim and their doctor needs to know what chemicals they have been exposed to.
10. No preparations for frack waste disposal
There are not adequate facilities to dispose of HVHF frack waste in New York, since there are no disposal wells in the state. Section 554.1 (c) would allows frack waste to be disposed of anywhere the DEC deems appropriate, with no objective standard other than this: "the department will take into consideration the known geology of the area, the sensitivity of the surrounding environment to such fluids."
11. Inadequate protections for groundwater
The DEC’s well construction standards focus almost entirely on the casing, the steel tubing, (see for instance 560.6 (13)) while ignoring the fact many gas wells leak from outside the casing, via the cement and the well bore itself, gassing groundwater and that horizontal shale gas wells are particularly apt to mobilize methane into groundwater.
12. Absence of seismic testing regulations
The conspicuous lack of any seismic testing regulations is emblematic of how ill-equipped New York is to regulate HVHF or even address comprehensively all the operations and risks entailed. It is indicative of the DEC’s indolent approach to regulating the industry.
Get your responses in. Copy the press and your elected officials. Stop this fracking train wreck.
Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.
Google's New Timelapse Shows 37 Years of Climate Change Anywhere on Earth, Including Your Neighborhood
Google Earth's latest feature allows you to watch the climate change in four dimensions.
The new feature, called Timelapse, is the biggest update to Google Earth since 2017. It is also, as far as its developers know, the largest video taken of Earth on Earth. The feature compiles 24 million satellite photos taken between 1984 and 2020 to show how human activity has transformed the planet over the past 37 years.
"Visual evidence can cut to the core of the debate in a way that words cannot and communicate complex issues to everyone," Google Earth Director Rebecca Moore wrote in a blog post Thursday.
Moore herself has been directly impacted by the climate crisis. She was one of many Californians evacuated because of wildfires last year. However, the new feature allows people to witness more remote changes, such as the melting of ice caps.
"With Timelapse in Google Earth, we have a clearer picture of our changing planet right at our fingertips — one that shows not just problems but also solutions, as well as mesmerizingly beautiful natural phenomena that unfold over decades," she wrote.
Some climate impacts that viewers can witness include the melting of 12 miles of Alaska's Columbia Glacier between 1984 and 2020, Fortune reported. They can also watch the disintegration of the Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica. The changes are not limited to the impacts of global warming, however.
Moore said the developers had identified five themes, and Google Earth offers a guided tour for each of them. They are:
- Forest change, such as deforestation in Bolivia for soybean farming
- Urban growth, such as the quintupling of Las Vegas sprawl
- Warming temperatures, such as melting glaciers and ice sheets
- Sources of energy, such as the impacts of coal mining on Wyoming's landscape
- Fragile beauty, such as the flow of Bolivia's Mamoré River
However, the feature also allows you to see smaller-scale change. You can enter any location into the search bar, including your local neighborhood, CNN explained. The feature does not offer the detail of Street View, Gizmodo noted. It is intended to show large changes over time, rather than smaller details like the construction of a road or home.
The images for Timelapse were made possible through collaboration with NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey's Landsat satellites and the European Union's Copernicus program and Sentinel satellites. Carnegie Mellon University's CREATE Lab helped develop the technology.
To use Timelapse, you can either visit g.co/Timelapse directly or click on the Ship's Wheel icon in Google Earth, then select Timelapse. Moore said the feature would be updated annually with new images of Earth's alterations.
"We hope that this perspective of the planet will ground debates, encourage discovery and shift perspectives about some of our most pressing global issues," she wrote.
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By Asher Rosinger
Imagine seeing a news report about lead contamination in drinking water in a community that looks like yours. It might make you think twice about whether to drink your tap water or serve it to your kids – especially if you also have experienced tap water problems in the past.
In a new study, my colleagues Anisha Patel, Francesca Weaks and I estimate that approximately 61.4 million people in the U.S. did not drink their tap water as of 2017-2018. Our research, which was released in preprint format on April 8, 2021, and has not yet been peer reviewed, found that this number has grown sharply in the past several years.
Other research has shown that about 2 million Americans don't have access to clean water. Taking that into account, our findings suggest that about 59 million people have tap water access from either their municipality or private wells or cisterns, but don't drink it. While some may have contaminated water, others may be avoiding water that's actually safe.
Water insecurity is an underrecognized but growing problem in the U.S. Tap water distrust is part of the problem. And it's critical to understand what drives it, because people who don't trust their tap water shift to more expensive and often less healthy options, like bottled water or sugary drinks.
I'm a human biologist and have studied water and health for the past decade in places as diverse as Lowland Bolivia and northern Kenya. Now I run the Water, Health, and Nutrition Laboratory at Pennsylvania State University. To understand water issues, I talk to people and use large datasets to see whether a problem is unique or widespread, and stable or growing.
An Epidemic of Distrust
According to our research, there's a growing epidemic of tap water distrust and disuse in the U.S. In a 2020 study, anthropologist Sera Young and I found that tap water avoidance was declining before the Flint water crisis that began in 2014. In 2015-2016, however, it started to increase again for children.
Our new study found that in 2017-2018, the number of Americans who didn't drink tap water increased at an alarmingly high rate, particularly for Black and Hispanic adults and children. Since 2013-2014 – just before the Flint water crisis began – the prevalence of adults who do not drink their tap water has increased by 40%. Among children, not consuming tap has risen by 63%.
To calculate this change, we used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a nationally representative survey that releases data in two-year cycles. Sampling weights that use demographic characteristics ensure that the people being sampled are representative of the broader U.S. population.
Racial Disparities in Tap Water Consumption
Communities of color have long experienced environmental injustice across the U.S. Black, Hispanic and Native American residents are more likely to live in environmentally disadvantaged neighborhoods, with exposure to water that violates quality standards.
Our findings reflect these experiences. We calculated that Black and Hispanic children and adults are two to three times more likely to report not drinking their tap water than members of white households. In 2017-2018, roughly 3 out of 10 Black adults and children and nearly 4 of 10 Hispanic adults and children didn't drink their tap water. Approximately 2 of 10 Asian Americans didn't drink from their tap, while only 1 of 10 white Americans didn't drink their tap water.
When children don't drink any water on a given day, research shows that they consume twice as many calories from sugary drinks as children who drink water. Higher sugary drink consumption increases risk of cavities, obesity and cardiometabolic diseases. Drinking tap water provides fluoride, which lowers the risk of cavities. Relying on water alternatives is also much more expensive than drinking tap water.
A4: Choosing to drink fluoridated tap water over sugar-sweetened beverages to quench thirst is vital to protecting… https://t.co/3tm8wuWjeZ— Oral Health Watch (@Oral Health Watch)1600795750.0
What Erodes Trust
News reports – particularly high-visibility events like advisories to boil water – lead people to distrust their tap water even after the problem is fixed. For example, a 2019 study showed that water quality violations across the U.S. between 2006 and 2015 led to increases in bottled water purchases in affected counties as a way to avoid tap water, and purchase rates remained elevated after the violation.
The Flint water crisis drew national attention to water insecurity, even though state and federal regulators were slow to respond to residents' complaints there. Soon afterward, lead contamination was found in the water supply of Newark, New Jersey; the city is currently replacing all lead service lines under a legal settlement. Elsewhere, media outlets and advocacy groups have reported finding tap water samples contaminated with industrial chemicals, lead, arsenic and other contaminants.
Many other factors can cause people to distrust their water supply, including smell, taste and appearance, as well as lower income levels. Location is also an issue: Older U.S. cities with aging infrastructure are more prone to water shutoffs and water quality problems.
It's important not to blame people for distrusting what comes out of their tap, because those fears are rooted in history. In my view, addressing water insecurity requires a two-part strategy: ensuring that everyone has access to clean water, and increasing trust so people who have safe water will use it.
As part of his proposed infrastructure plan, President Joe Biden is asking Congress for $111 billion to improve water delivery systems, replace lead pipelines and tackle other contaminants. The plan also proposes improvements for small water systems and underserved communities.
These are critical steps to rebuild trust. Yet, in my view, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should also provide better public education about water quality testing and targeted interventions for vulnerable populations, such as children and underserved communities. Initiatives to simplify and improve water quality reports can help people understand what's in their water and what they can do if they think something is wrong with it.
Who delivers those messages is important. In areas like Flint, where former government officials have been indicted on charges including negligence and perjury in connection with the water crisis, the government's word alone won't rebuild trust. Instead, community members can fill this critical role.
Another priority is the 13%-15% of Americans who rely on private well water, which is not regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. These households are responsible for their own water quality testing. Public funding would help them test it regularly and address any problems.
Public distrust of tap water in the U.S. reflects decades of policies that have reduced access to reliable, safe drinking water in communities of color. Fixing water lines is important, but so is giving people confidence to turn on the tap.
Asher Rosinger is an assistant professor of biobehavioral health, anthropology, and demography and director of the Water, Health, and Nutrition Laboratory at Penn State University.
Disclosure statement: Asher Rosinger receives funding from the National Science Foundation on an unrelated project. This work was supported by the Ann Atherton Hertzler Early Career Professorship funds, and the Penn State Population Research Institute (NICHD P2CHD041025). The funders had no role in the research or interpretation of results.
Reposted with permission from The Conversation.
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A new report promoting urgent climate action in Australia has stirred debate for claiming that global temperatures will rise past 1.5 degrees Celsius in the next decade.
Australia's Climate Council released the report on Thursday. The council is an independent organization of climate scientists and experts on health, renewable energy and policy who work to inform the Australian public on the climate crisis. But their latest claim is causing controversy.
"Multiple lines of evidence show that limiting global warming to 1.5°C above the preindustrial level, without significant overshoot and subsequent drawdown, is now out of reach due to past inaction," Dr. Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research and Prof. Christopher Field of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment wrote in the foreword. "The science is telling us that global average temperature rise will likely exceed 1.5°C during the 2030s, and that long-term stabilization at warming at or below 1.5°C will be extremely challenging."
The report is titled "Aim high, go fast: Why emissions need to plummet this decade," and as the name suggests, it is ultimately concerned with urging more robust climate action on the part of the Australian government. The report calls for the country to reduce emissions by 75 percent by 2030 and reach net zero by 2035 in order to achieve the long-term goals of the Paris agreement, which means limiting warming to well below two degrees Celsius.
"The world achieving net zero by 2050 is at least a decade too late and carries a strong risk of irreversible global climate disruption at levels inconsistent with maintaining well-functioning human societies," the authors wrote.
The report further argues that global temperatures are likely to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius in the 2030s based on existing temperature increases; locked-in warming from emissions that have already occurred; evidence from past climate changes and the percentage of the carbon budget that has already been used.
The report isn't a call to give up on the Paris agreement. It is possible that global temperatures could swell past 1.5 degrees Celsius but still be reduced by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Even if temperatures do exceed 1.5 degrees, every degree of warming that can be prevented makes a difference.
"Basically we can still hold temperature rise to well below 2C and do that without overshoot and drawdown," Will Steffen, lead report author from the Australian National University's Climate Change Institute, told Australia's ABC News. "Every tenth of a degree actually does matter — 1.8C is better than 1.9C, and is much better than 2C."
However, some outside scientists question both the accuracy and effectiveness of the report's claim. Both Adjunct Professor Bill Hare from Murdoch University and Dr. Carl-Freidrich Schleussner from Humboldt University told ABC News they have been trying to contact the Climate Council about its 1.5 overshoot claim for months. They said that it went against other major reports, including the UN Environment Program Gap Report and the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on 1.5˚C.
"The big challenge their report reinforces is the need for urgent action to get on that 1.5C pathway, [so] it's very paradoxical to me that they've chosen to attack that target," Dr. Hare told ABC News.
However, Scientist Andy Pitman from the Center of Excellence for Climate Extremes at the University of New South Wales told The Guardian that the report's assessment was correct.
"It's simply not possible to limit warming to 1.5C now," he said. "There's too much inertia in the system and even if you stopped greenhouse gas emissions today, you would still reach 1.5C [of heating]."
However, one aspect everyone agreed on involved the importance of lowering emissions as soon as possible.
"[There is] absolute fundamental agreement on the task at hand, which is to get emissions to plummet," Simon Bradshaw, report author and Climate Council head of research, told The Guardian.
French winemakers are facing devastating grape loss from the worst frost in decades, preceded by unusually warm temperatures, highlighting the dangers to the sector posed by climate change.
"An important share of the harvest has been lost. It's too early to give a percentage estimate, but in any case it's a tragedy for the winegrowers who have been hit," said Christophe Chateau, director of communications at the Bordeaux Wine Council, told CNN.
Climate change, caused by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, has pushed winegrowing seasons earlier, putting crops at higher risk of cold — and wildfires supercharged by climate change also threaten American vignerons and farmworkers as well.
"I think it's good for people to understand that this is nature, climate change is real, and to be conscious of the effort that goes into making wine and the heartbreak that is the loss of a crop," Jeremy Seysses of Domaine Dujac in Burgundy's Côte de Nuits told Wine Enthusiast.
As reported by Wine Enthusiast:
Last week, images of candlelit French vineyards flooded social media. Across the country, winemakers installed bougies, or large wax-filled metal pots, among the vines to prevent cold air from settling in during an especially late frost.
With temperatures in early April as low as 22°F, and following an unseasonably warm March, this year's frost damage may be the worst in history for French winegrowers. Every corner of France reports considerable losses, from Champagne to Provence, and Côtes de Gascogne to Alsace. As a result, there will likely be very little French wine from the 2021 vintage reaching U.S. shores.
For a deeper dive:
- Climate Crisis Could Destroy Most Vineyards - EcoWatch ›
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- In Europe, Climate Change Brings New Crops and Ideas - EcoWatch ›
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Climate change could make it harder to find a good cup of coffee, new research finds. A changing climate might shrink suitable areas for specialty coffee production without adaptation, making coffee taste blander and impacting the livelihoods of small farms in the Global South.
Published in Scientific Reports on Wednesday, the study focused on regions in Ethiopia, Africa's largest coffee-producing nation. Although studies have previously documented the impact of climate change on coffee production, what's less understood is how varying climates could change the flavors of specialty coffee, the researchers wrote.
The team aimed to fill this gap. Their results provide a glimpse into how future climate change could impact local regions and economies that rely on coffee cultivation, underscoring the value of local adaptation measures.
Researchers analyzed how 19 different climate factors, such as mean temperatures and rainfall levels, would affect the cultivation of five distinct specialty coffee types in the future, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) reported. Although researchers found that areas suitable for growing "average quality coffee" may actually increase over time with climate change, regions where specialty coffee is grown will shrink — a pending problem in light of the global demand for high-quality coffee.
"This is an issue not just for coffee lovers, but for local agricultural value creation," Abel Chemura, the study's lead author, told the PIK.
Coffee profiles rely on specific climate patterns for their unique flavors, levels of acidity and fragrances. But in a warmer climate, the coffee cherry — the fruit picked from a coffee plant — matures faster than the bean inside, making for a lower quality cup of coffee, the PIK reported.
For example, the sought-after Yirgacheffe variety of coffee, which is cultivated in southwestern Ethiopia, could lose more than 40 percent of its suitable growth area by the end of the century, PIK reported. This could impact small farms and threaten Ethiopia's economy, the researchers noted.
"If one or more coffee regions lose their specialty status due to climate change this has potentially grave ramifications for the smallholder farmers in the region," Christoph Gornott, co-author of the study, told the PIK. "If they were forced to switch to growing conventional, less palatable and bitter coffee types, they would all of the sudden compete with industrial production systems elsewhere that are more efficient." In a country where coffee exports account for nearly a third of all agricultural exports, "this could prove fatal," Gornott added.
Climate change impacts on coffee production are not unique to Ethiopia. In Columbia's mountainous coffee-growing regions, temperatures are warming by 0.5 degrees Fahrenheit every decade, according to Yale Environment 360. Extreme levels of precipitation, which are becoming more common, also impact production, as they spread insect and fungal diseases.
"In earlier times, the climate was perfect for coffee," one small farmer in Columbia told Yale Environment 360. "In the period of flowering, there was summer. During harvest, there was winter. But from 2008 onward, this changed and we now don't know when it will be summer, when the coffee will blossom."
But researchers say there are glimmers of hope, emphasizing the importance of local adaptation measures that are designed for particular climates and communities. For example, in regions where temperature is an important factor for specialty coffee cultivation, the researchers suggest improved agroforestry systems that could maintain canopy temperatures, a promising step toward sustaining the "availability and taste of one of the world's most beloved beverages and, more importantly, on economic opportunities in local communities of the Global South," Gornott concluded.