THE BLOG
09/04/2014 03:23 pm ET | Updated Nov 04, 2014

How Climate Change Could Affect Your Breakfast

The impacts of climate change can be felt throughout the world. We're witnessing firsthand hotter summers, extreme weather, droughts and severe wildfires, making the climate crisis something that's impossible to ignore. Over the past century, the earth's average temperature has risen by 1.4°F and is projected to rise another 2° to 11.5°F over the next hundred years. Although those numbers may seem relatively small at first glance, changes in temperature can impact our lives in a big way.

Take for example breakfast, the meal many consider the most important meal of the day. Breakfast could be hit hard by climate change. Our traditional breakfast foods could look very different in years to come if we don't fight hard to protect our planet.

Coffee

It's no surprise that over 54 percent of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee everyday. A freshly brewed morning cup o' joe is a daily ritual for many, and a simple way to kick start the day. We're now even being told that a morning cup of coffee is healthy. That cup of coffee could look very different in a few years if climate change continues on its current path.

Coffee growing regions around the world are temperature dependent and any slight change in average temperature can easily threaten the quality of the coffee we're drinking, as well as the amount produced.

One of the largest problems coffee crops are facing is a fungus known as coffee rust. Coffee rust infects the coffee tree leaves and essentially make it impossible for the coffee plants to survive. The disease is rapidly wiping out crops and causing financial hardships for the coffee growers.

Our coffee supply is at risk and climate change is the culprit. NPR reports:

"In El Salvador, nearly three quarters of all coffee trees are infected with the fungus; in Costa Rica more than 60 percent are infected. And in Guatemala, coffee rust now covers 70 percent of the crop, resulting in the loss of at least 100,000 jobs and a 15 percent drop in coffee output over the past two years."

Climates for growing coffee beans are disappearing due to warmer temperatures in the coffee growing regions. Warmer temperatures are enabling the fungus to attack at higher altitudes, where many of the coffee crops are located.

Toast and Cereal

If your toast or cereal is made from wheat then they may not find their way to your breakfast table in years to come. Over the next 10 to 20 years there's a risk that climate change will cause wheat diseases to increase, potentially wiping out wheat crops.

Ear blight is one of the serious diseases affecting wheat across many areas of the world. The disease is more likely to infect wheat crops with certain temperatures in place and wet weather conditions when wheat crops flower.

Climate change could increase the risk of serious ear blight epidemics on winter wheat in Central China and the UK as soon as 2020-2050, placing our toast and cereal along with many other wheat-based products at risk.

Bacon and Sausage (beef or pork)

There are estimates that the meat industry produces almost one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that accelerate climate change. Cows are one of the largest producers of methane (through their digestive process), a gas that helps contribute to global warming.

A study found that:

"...cattle (for beef or dairy) are the biggest source of greenhouse emissions from livestock globally, accounting for 77 percent of the total. Pork and poultry account for only 10 percent of emissions."

Approximately 1,850 gallons of water are needed to produce a single pound of beef, whereas approximately 39 gallons of water are needed to produce a pound of vegetables. Cutting back on the amount of meat we eat is such a simple way to have a big impact.

The choices we make in our day-to-day life do matter and can play a major role in slowing climate change. Maybe it's time to reevaluate the food we're eating and make simple changes to fight for a healthy future.