Will Chocolate Ever Run Out?
A recent story about climate change warned that the world could run out of chocolate by the year 2050. Chocolate lovers around the world became flustered and started to wonder if this story had any teeth to it. After all, what kind of world would we live in without chocolate? The tasty treat has provided smiles and enjoyment to people for centuries, and it is one of the most popular desserts across the globe.
Fortunately, the story didn’t really seem to completely legitimate. Although there are concerns about climate change making it more difficult to grow cacao and to harvest the beans, this doesn’t mean that the world’s supply of chocolate is going to dry up. Certain regions may lose their ability to grow the bean, but as parts of the world change, other regions may pick up the slack and start producing more.
We chocolate lovers also have technology on our side. Plant scientists have found ways to generate strains of cocoa that will grow at higher temperatures and that will also be resistant to viral and fungal infections. While nobody should be celebrating higher global temperatures, it is encouraging that the experts in the field are able to prepare for potential disaster by altering the genetics of the plant.
We shouldn’t consider this an opportunity to ignore the crisis, however. Although chocolate will be around for the foreseeable future, it will become more difficult to grow and in turn will become more expensive to purchase. Like any crop that suffers from scarcity, people who want to consume the treat may be required to open up their wallets. If trends continue over the next few decades, chocolate, as well as many other crops, may be seen as luxury items rather than something to simply buy off of a grocery store shelf.
Over half of the world’s chocolate comes from two countries in Africa – Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. Rising global temperatures could lead to diminishing fertile land in those countries, meaning that they will be putting out a smaller supply of chocolate in coming years. Still, chocolate isn’t going to become extinct. They will have to come up with more efficient farming methods and work with scientists to improve their soil. They may look to outsource some of the beans to regions where chocolate has never been grown before. It is all about adapting, and the chocolate industry should be able to absorb some of the blow dealt by climate change.
While a chocolate shortage is certainly a possibility in the future, the food will continue to exist for as long as we can see. It is helpful that there is already such a large supply of it, but changes in the environment could threaten this surplus. Fortunately, scientists are working to find new ways to grow chocolate and to eradicate the diseases that have affected some of the worldwide crop.