For chocolate lovers, there’s simply no substitute. Unfortunately, the future of the one and only source of that delicious brown concoction, the cocoa bean, is in danger.
Thankfully, scientists are working to avoid a world, in our own lifetime, in which chocolate goes extinct. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, cacao plants are expected to go extinct by 2050 due to globally rising temperatures and drier weather patterns in the region the plants are grown.
Cacao plants already grow in a precarious part of the planet. They only succeed in a narrow strip of rainforested land, found about 20 degrees north and south of the equator. Temperatures here stay relatively constant, no matter the season.
More than half of the world’s chocolate now comes from just two countries — Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. But the temperatures in these countries are projected to rise nearly 4º Fahrenheit by 2050 if “business-as-usual” conditions continue, reports BusinessInsider UK. If this happens, cacao will need to be grown farther uphill into the more mountainous areas, but these are already largely preserved for wildlife habitats.
But there could be a sweeter ending to this story. Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley and Mars candy company, have teamed up to find a solution. One new DNA-editing technology, called CRISPR, has them hopeful of producing a crop that can thrive in a warmer, drier climate.
Some companies don’t want to have to rely on this worst-case-scenario world, and are trying to be proactive.
Mars, the $35 billion corporation best known for Snickers and M&M’s, pledged $1 billion back in September to reduce the carbon footprint of the entire business and supply chains by at least 60 percent by 2050.
NOAA also suggests refraining from clearing any additional rainforested areas to help provide cacao trees with shade and retain more carbon.
Other foods at risk if the global climate continues to rise include coffee, seafood, maple syrup and wine grapes. So if a world without wine and chocolate sounds terrible to you, get out there and call your representative.
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