Climate Change Hits Home

Sept. 18, 2017

I live and work far from an ocean. To me they are symbols of beauty, freedom and even sustenance. This year however, they also represent a terrible fate for thousands of people that live on our coasts. The two large hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, have destroyed lives, cost millions and reminded us to evaluate what we are doing day to day. It’s a reminder to spend time with friends and family, feel thankful when times are good, and also to consider how we are impacting our world long-term.

Warming planet = not good 

I concede that not everyone believes in climate change caused by humans, and that these two isolated storms do not prove climate change is happening or affecting weather. However, I do believe it. I believe climate change is causing warmer weather, warmer waters which is what Hurricanes feed on as well as higher sea levels. I think there is support for climate change especially when you consider how it is and will affect other areas of our business too.

Coffee is one of the crops being affected by climate change. Many coffee growing regions are experiencing warming temperatures. One report centering on Ethiopia, where the original coffee plant Coffea arabica comes from, talked about how global warming is reducing rainfall and increasing heat. According to Comunicaffe, this will not only affect millions of people that rely on coffee to make a living, but will affect the price of coffee around the world. The CBC reported research that 39 to 59 percent of Ethiopia’s current coffee production areas could be unsuitable to grow coffee by the end of this century. Not to mention the impact in other coffee growing regions of coffee rust and other fungus that destroy coffee crops and are worsened by climate change. This year’s State of Office Coffee Service Report, on page 34, explains how coffee is and will continue to generate strong revenues. However, for this to continue, we need to ensure a great coffee future.

Chocolate too, being produced from cocoa beans, is affected by the planet heating up. Cocoa trees grow in a limited area of the world, and production will drop as those areas become hotter and drier.

Efforts being made 

Major companies in our industry are addressing the issue of climate change in different ways. The most recent and notable as we recover from two devastating hurricanes is Mars’ announcement to spend $1 billion on sustainability.

In early September 2017, Mars unveiled the Sustainable in a Generation plan, which addresses environmental concerns as well as the well-being of people. “We must work together, because the engine of global business — its extended supply chain — is broken, and requires transformational, cross-industry collaboration to fix it,” said Chief Executive Officer and Office of the President, Grant F. Reid, in the company’s release. Mars is planning that by 2050, it will reduce the carbon footprint of its business and supply chain by more than 60 percent.

There are also vending, OCS, and micro market operators investing in sustainability. One such example is Steve Brehm of Berry Coffee, profiled on page 26 of this issue, who installed solar panels on his facility in Minnesota.

My thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by the recent hurricanes. Along with donations to relief efforts, I challenge myself and everyone to also consider our environmental impact. It may not have as immediate an affect as money and goods, but it will ensure the industry’s long-term success.

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