In case you missed it: 3 big stories from our world

Many wild coffee species may soon go extinct because of global warming. (© Migin)

Editor’s note: News about conservation and the environment is made every day, but some of it can fly under the radar. In a recurring feature, Human Nature shares three stories from the past week that you should know about.

  1. Global warming is helping to wipe out coffee in the wild

Sixty percent of the world’s coffee species are at risk of becoming extinct in the wild due to global warming.

The story: Millions of farmers rely on wild coffee species for their livelihoods, and millions more rely on them for their daily caffeine jolt, Somini Sengupta reported for The New York Times last week. The coffee species that are in danger of becoming extinct may hold the genetic code that scientists need to ensure coffee production in a changing climate.

The big picture: Fewer coffee varietals affects more than coffee farmers and caffeine consumers — it negatively affects biodiversity and habitat. As global warming eradicates coffee species, wildlife that use coffee trees for habitat or for food will be negatively affected as well.

Read the story here.

  1. New plant-focused diet would ‘transform’ planet’s future, say scientists

A new diet would prevent millions of deaths each year and help stop climate change, according to a new report.

The story: The “planetary health” diet requires people to drastically reduce their red meat consumption because agriculture, specifically cattle farming, is a large contributor to climate change, Damian Carrington reported for The Guardian last week. The diet is mainly composed of plants, such as vegetables and whole grains, with the exception of one beef burger allowed per week.

The big picture: Unhealthy diets, such as those heavy in red meats, are the number one cause of poor health worldwide, and industrial agriculture clears forests and releases greenhouse gases into the air — contributing to climate change. “Humanity now poses a threat to the stability of the planet,” Johan Rockström, an author of the report and chief scientist at Conservation International, said. “[This requires] nothing less than a new global agricultural revolution.”

Read the story here.


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  1. As disease ravages coral reefs, scientists scramble for solutions

Coral around the world are dying on a mass scale due to higher ocean temperatures, and scientists worry about their future in a changing climate.

The story: Higher temperatures can cause coral to bleach, and this makes them even more susceptible to diseases, Ret Talbot reported for Yale Environment 360 last week. In Australia alone, at least 6 percent of coral reefs have been wiped out because of disease outbreaks.

The big picture: Coral reefs are an essential part of life as we know it — people around the world are dependent on them for food, livelihoods and protection from the ocean. Because climate change means that the oceans are only going to get warmer, scientists are scrambling for solutions to save coral reefs, ranging from genetically engineering new “super” coral that are more heat tolerant to separating healthy coral from diseased coral using trenches and antibiotics.

Read the story here.

Olivia DeSmit is a staff writer for Conservation International.

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