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Okay. Look. I get it. Save the earth one cup at a time. Do right by your supply chain. Get the girl, kill the baddies and save the entire planet. And hooray for having your heart in the right place and sure - this is not a large trade organization and it doesn't have a lot of power so at least they're taking on what they can take on.
But this whole paper is an excuse for inaction. Cliff's notes on Action Item 3, "Measure and Reduce your Carbon Footprint:"
- Farmer Brothers (1800 employees, $240m sales)
- Determined that 85% of their carbon emissions come from roasting coffee
- Determined that 14% of their carbon emissions come from driving coffee
- Determined that 1% of their carbon emissions come from being in business
- So they got their engines certified clean idle
- And bought some carbon certificates
- To advance their goal of reducing their carbon emissions by 80% forty fucking years in the future
How many carbon credits did they buy? So few it didn't even make their self-fellating annual report. And - and here's my beef -
it wouldn't do fuckall about the future of coffee anyway.
Your argument - more money in cows than in coffee. To acknowledge that briefly, ranching is generally done on public lands while farming is done on private but we'll ignore that. One cow takes about 1.3 acres per year and one cow is good for about 500lbs of trimmed beef (and byproducts). Argentinian beef trades wholesale for $330/kt (or so) or $330/2200lb or 15 cents a pound so your 1.3 acres is earning you 75 bucks or, wholesale, you're making $57 per acre.
How 'bout coffee?
I know a shit-ton less about coffee than you do. All I have available to me is public information. When I google "coffee yield per acre" I get an article that tells me traditional methods yield as little as 450lbs an acre while intensive farming can push that up to 3,000 lbs. So right there, I know that if a specialty coffee association member wants to make a difference, he needs to find a modern farm that isn't fucking around because apparently the agricultural multiplier is a factor of seven. But how much are we getting for a pound of coffee?
Good thing your buddies at the SCAA are available to tell me. Looks like $1.75/lb. So even fucking around with shade-grown don't-care cherries-roasting-in-the-sun agriculture, a coffee plantation makes about a factor of ten over beef. But, of course, the capital expenditures to plant an acre of coffee and raise it to harvest are intense and no doubt reflected in that.
So I come back to this point - the links in the paper you shared all indicate that a coffee plantation is good for 30-50 years. They also indicate that 50 years from now, coffee will be coming from very different places. And digging into it a little more, it becomes obvious that an enterprising coffee roaster that actually wanted to make a difference (as opposed to sit around the tradegroup campfire singing koom bay yah) might get involved with some agricultural NGOs attempting to get ahead of the production curve on a crop that has a heavy sunk cost, an admirable response to intensive agriculture and the demand curve of a luxury item.
THEIR REPORT SHOULD BE BETTER THAN THIS.
Because see, if southern Mexico is currently the world's 8th largest arabica producer, I'ma guess that in 50 years south-central Mexico is gonna be the world's 8th largest arabica producer and if white-boy me can have some influence now that pushes things closer to the 3,000lb/acre number than the 450lb/acre number, FUCKIN'A PUT THAT SHIT IN WRITING.
- OVER THE NEXT 25 TO 30 YEARS, SALES OF TIMBER HARVESTED SUSTAINABLY ARE ESTIMATED TO GENERATE APPROXIMATELY U.S. $1,264,820 IN SUPPLEMENTAL INCOME TO THE PARTICIPATING COFFEE FARMERS
At the most, that's the equivalent of 50 acres of coffee. That's a legit "who gives a fuck" statistic. But your trade group gave it a quarter of a page.
I drink coffee. I like it. I want to keep doing it. And for fuck's sake, if your industry is worrying about 50% of the available land going away in the next 50 years, fuckin' do something about it.
- IMPORTERS AND EXPORTERS.
Minimize travelling and transport distances. Choose airlines with green travel credentials and choose economy class.
If you're worried about the carbon imprint of your ass in business class, you're worrying about the wrong damn thing. I mean - sure. Maybe you feel better riding in economy class because your tradegroup told you to. But I'd rather know that you're taking steps to not burn more of the Amazon.
And this paper says fuckall about the Amazon.
I think it's asinine that an industry trade group should whinge about sustainable coffee growing (and drinking - fuck you too, charlie) practices when FFS, converting a pasture to a coffee plantation is a far more sustainable move. The "blueprint" basically starts with the premise that coffee production is wholesale fucked because coffee plants are too delicate to live and then argues that the path forward is to burden current coffee growers with smell-your-farts smugness rather than figuring out ways to get coffee from regions where agriculture won't be so intensive.
I mean, they link this. What do they get out of it? "50% of suitable land lost by 2050." What does it actually say?
If you read it, it mostly says "in 30 years, your coffee is mostly going to come from places occupied by Boko Haram." And if that isn't a more useful call to action than "measure and reduce your carbon footprint" I don't know what is.
Commercial production of pistachios in California in 1976: 0
Pistachios grown in California since 2000: 25% of world production, second only to Iran, which harvested the nut since the Achaemenid Empire
If a third of the world's arabica production is from Brazil, then there's no reason Argentina can't steal a lot of that during climate change. Apparently Vietnam went from 6,000 tons of robusta in 1975 to 2 million tons today. It's a crop, after all.
...not such a helpful blueprint.
- The IPCC predicts that the continued production of greenhouse gases at current rates will lead to global temperature increases of between 0.5 and 8.7 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century.
- IPCC ESTIMATES AGRICULTURE’S SHARE OF ANTHROPOGENIC
EMISSIONS WORLDWIDE ATTRIBUTES ROUGHLY 25% OF THE GLOBAL GREENHOUSE GAS BURDEN.
( WRI puts it at 13%, but whatever)
Pretty much anybody who studies the problem will tell you that "greenhouse gas reduction" and "agriculture" begins and ends with curbing the production of red meat. Full stop. That WRI link above puts beef and fertilizer at 65% of the greenhouse gas contribution of agriculture; coffee is a perennial which automatically puts its fertilizer usage well below row crops. Yet the SCAA's recommendations for "coffee in a changing climate" are all along the lines of "if we pitch in we can fix this!" (as well as some unhealthy slagging on customers) rather than "when Kenya becomes eight degrees warmer you're gonna be buying coffee outta South Carolina, best get your contracts in order."
Another awesome quote:
- Would you please explain the Math here….
A family of 5, two juice pouches per head, implies 300 pouches per month.
At $7 per pouch, my juice budget is $2100 per month…
Think about it. $2100 per month as juice budget (many articles are using the irrelevant capital cost of $400).
This solves the nation’s nutrition problem, how? (I’m glad you didn’t mention this would eliminate the world nutrition problem.)
they're stupendously expensive. And they've got this giant dumb thing on the counter:
And of course it was designed by Yves Behar, the one guy to make an uncomfortable Herman Miller chair.
I guess what I'm saying is you adding cynicism to this endeavor is like spitting in the ocean.
- When in 100 years, after the AIs kill us all and have nothing to do with their time sitting in the hammock but learn about how fucking stupid we were, they will read this blog post and know, deep in their not human bones, why we destroyed ourselves.
Know a guy who was working on this in 2012. The resolution is now in the gigapixel range and apparently the things consume a large fraction of the available liquid helium. But that's the experimental military stuff. The megapixel shit? already in Baltimore.