Chocolate is a beautiful thing. As with many beautiful things on our planet, it too can be marred by the climate change we see.
Recently, there was an article that chocolate, or the cacao plants used to make it, could disappear in a few decades. It claims that the warmer, drier climate will lead to its extinction. I was surprised to read such a claim. Chocolate is very dear to me. It’s one of the delights that still work on me. What to do if it’s gone? How to cope in this post-chocolyptic reality?
Do you need to ration out your holiday horde of chocolates over the next fifty years?
Chocolate and Climate Change
As this writer advises, not every headline is what it seems. Many of us are all too aware of this notion in our era. While cacao is affected by climate change, like everything on this planet, it likely won’t go extinct so soon. This may be because chocolate can be
grown in different regions around the world: 70% of the world’s cocoa supply is from Africa; 14% is from Southeast Asia and 13% is from The Americas, where chocolate originated.
Even so, there are some people working to ensure chocolate’s existence. Researchers at UC Berkeley and UC Francisco acknowledge the effects of climate change on cacao and are toying with cacao genes to combat its threat.
It’s less “toying,” and more like “cutting DNA sections and modifying gene function.” Using CRISPR gene editing technology, researchers are developing methods to change cacao genes so that they are more disease-resistant. This might offer relief to those fearing a chocolate meltdown since the cacao can live on in its modified progeny. To those disturbed by gene editing, don’t worry, it’s been happening for years.
These advances are good to know, but remember that keeping chocolate consumption viable will require us all to be smarter with our planet and the resources we use. I’ve written about the muddled commodification of chocolate earlier, and whether you like it or not, chocolate affects us on a global level. People around the world consume more than 4.5 million tons of cocoa each year and more than 40 million people depend on it for their livelihoods.
I also know at least one person who depends on it for their sweet tooth.