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Sierra Daily

Sep 30, 2011

A World Without Chocolate

Charlie_bucket__golden_ticket

"Charlie felt it worst of all. And although his father and mother often went without their own share of lunch or supper so that they could give it to him, it still wasn't nearly enough for a growing boy. He desperately wanted something more filling and satisfying than cabbage and cabbage soup. The one thing he longed for more than anything else was . . . CHOCOLATE." 

In the not-too-distant future we could all be like Charlie Bucket, in a world where chocolate is as rare as a golden ticket. A report from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) warns that "Climate change . . . could transform the cherished chocolate bar into a luxury few can afford." An expected increase in temperatures in West Africa of 2.3 degrees Celsius "will render many of the region’s cocoa-producing areas too hot for the plants that bear the fruit from which chocolate is made." In addition, chocolate plantations in West Africa and Brazil are being ravaged by deadly viruses and fungi as farmers plant in more marginal areas, a trend likely to increase as temperatures increase. The good news of the ICTA report is that, with enough advance warning and planning, West African farmers now dependent on cacao could switch to other, less heat sensitive crops. Cabbage, perhaps?

--Paul Rauber

 

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