The soccer world cup started a few days ago. For many, it is the most anticipated event in four years, making it an implicit crime to have meetings or phone calls during critical matches or even worse, surf channels. Even getting married in these couple of weeks can be a problem. Daily talks include the events of the last games and predictions of the next matches, shame of you if you are not aware of the scores and the best plays! It is usual to get together to watch the games and have some meals and drinks. Among the many conversations around such an important sporting event, have you ever wondered about the impact of climate change on agriculture and its effects on how you experience the world cup? We tell you some interesting facts that will affect everyone regardless of their preferred team:
- Time zones make it necessary that, in some countries, fans must wake up very early to watch the games. In these cases, coffee (one or several cups) is the indispensable instrument to guarantee a lively support to the favorite teams. Unfortunately, because of climate change, globally, by 2050, up to half of the optimum area for coffee cultivation will be lost. In fact, the increase in temperature and changes in precipitation patterns is negatively affecting the quality and productivity of this crop.
- Those who enjoy watching the game having a good glass of wine, will be affected too. The quality of the wine is highly sensitive to changes in temperature. This determines the content of sugar, alcohol and acidity of the grape, factors that influence the flavor, color and aroma of this drink. In addition, the water deficit is expected to deepen in most wine-producing regions, which will reduce productivity and may also have a positive or negative effect on quality depending on the location. For example, Bordeaux red wine quality will improve, while the opposite may occur in Mediterranean climates where there is too much water stress.
- Those who enjoy goals while drinking a beer will be affected equally. The production of the main ingredients of beer is altered by climate change. The yield of barley can be reduced by up to 20%. Also, the availability of certain types of hops (determining the taste, aroma and bitterness of beer) will be affected by the increase in temperature and the reduction in water availability. Hop varieties used to impart aroma (such as Willamette and Centennial) were the most impacted by the high temperatures during the summer of 2015 in the United States, where on average hop production had a 10% lower yield than expected.
- The meat cuts for barbecues, infallible companion in these meetings, is also vulnerable to weather conditions. Very high temperatures reduce the productivity of beef, chicken and pork by affecting their weight gain, and even causing the death of animals in extreme cases. Also, frosts and droughts produce livestock losses.
In addition to the beforementioned, changes in the incidence of pests and diseases must be considered, as well as changes in the distribution of these. Higher temperatures in Central America possibly contributed to the rust epidemic that reduced the coffee harvest in 2012-2013 by up to a quarter.
Given this panorama, it is essential that agriculture adapts to the impacts of climate change. Some important activities include the use of improved varieties and breeds, changes in production practices or the use of new practices to adjust to changing conditions, and the strengthening of research and provision of agricultural services.
Using this metaphoric story and the world cup as an excuse, allow ourselves to notice how the work to achieve a resilient agriculture helps us to continue enjoying the world cup and many other events that we often take for granted. Let’s not allow climate change to win this game!
If you are interested in reading more information about climate change and agriculture, read this publication.
Photography by pixabay.com