Currently — May 4, 2023: El Niño and climate-resistant coffee

The weather, currently.

La Niña has ended, and an El Niño is beginning to brew in the tropical Pacific Ocean, according to a new statement from the World Meteorological Organization.

El Niño is a periodic warming of ocean temperatures across the equatorial region of the Pacific, leading to coral bleaching, drought and fires in Indonesia and Australia, and heavy rains along the west coast of the Americas. It also typically triggers a surge of global temperatures, which is already being felt — April 2023 was the hottest month ever in the world's oceans.

Early indications are that 2024 could be the warmest year ever measured in human history — perhaps even pushing past the critical +1.5°C limit above pre-industrial levels.

—Eric Holthaus

What you need to know, currently.

Farmers in Uganda, one of Africa’s biggest coffee exporting countries, are growing a climate change-resistant variety of coffee. The two most common types, Arabica and Robusta, are at risk due to global warming, and the new coffee variety may help ensure growers around the world will be able to continue providing the beverage for generations to come.

This new coffee type, Liberica excelsa, is more resistant to heat and drought. It’s native to the lowlands of Uganda, and though Robusta is also native to the region and the dominant coffee type grown there, Liberica has much potential.

“In a warming world, and in an era beset with supply chain disruption, Liberica coffee could re-emerge as a major crop plant,” coffee specialists wrote in Nature a few months ago.

According to the New York Times, about 200 farmers have been growing Liberica here and there, selling it to local traders along with Robusta.

In a constantly warming world strife with deforestation and climate disasters, wild coffee varieties, like Liberica, and the wisdom of smallholder coffee farmers might just save the industry.

—Aarohi Sheth

What you can do, currently.

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