A whopping three-fourths of all of the world’s food supplies come from only 12 crops and five species of wildlife. But since the animals and crops aren’t getting the attention they need, the sixth mass extinction of wildlife could soon be underway. In fact, some scientists fear it is escalating too fast for anyone to stop it.
Ann Tutwiler, director general of Biodiversity International, explains that there are two factors responsible for this potential extinction event. First, since humans rely on the same crops, this leaves them much more susceptible to disease and pests that can sweep through entire nations at a time. This is what happened during the Irish potato famine, and it is only escalating with our climate’s increasing temperatures. Another cause of the extinction is the fact that governments and people aren’t doing enough to help these crops survive.
Biodiversity International has made it their goal to work with governments, corporations, and private farmers to incorporate lesser-known crops into our diets. Not only do they feel that this will protect the primary 12 crops from illness and disease, they also believe that incorporating lesser-known fruits and vegetables can provide a whole host of health benefits. Tutwiler explains in a statement to The Guardian:
“The world is changing – global warming, extreme weather and volatile prices are making it harder for farmers and growers to produce the foods our customers love. Which is why we are committed to working with our suppliers, farmers and growers around the world to OPTIMIZE the health benefits, address the impact and biodiversity of these products and secure a sustainable supply.”
Additionally, the global food chain faces an existential threat from fast dwindling bee populations. Currently, bees are dying off at an alarming rate, and plants are suffering as a result. Bees are pollinators, which helps a full 30% of crops and 90% of wild plants thrive. And without them, the plants will simply die off, too.
And, if that wasn’t enough to worry about, the beloved coffee plant is also under threat. The average American drinks 1.65 cups of coffee every day, but experts warn that the coffee plant could actually become extinct by 2080.
The numbers are discouraging — The Climate Institute estimates that come 2050, the amount of suitable coffee farmland throughout the world will be half what it is today. By 2080, if nothing changes, the crop could decrease up to 88%, and then stop growing altogether.
With these numbers in mind, it is more important than ever to keep not only our bees thriving, but our plants as well. Our morning cup of coffee counts on it!
Can you imagine the world without coffee? We sure can’t.
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