Climate & Coffee

A new story from Scientific American says this beloved form of caffeine is in danger. But, why is the Scientific American covering a story about coffee? Climate change.

Christopher Intagliata (who says his last name way too fast in the podcast) explains a new scientific study, which finds that rising temperatures harm “populations” of Arabica coffee, the “most cultivated species in the world.”

Notice, I put quotation marks around the word “populations” because there is a better way to explain Arabica coffee than by saying its populations are in danger. Although it may be the scientific way to explain the problem, it’s likely that populations of people will come to mind—not coffee or plants.

Another downfall of this story is that it is misleading and confusing. The lead causes us to believe coffee might not be around any longer, but Intagliata later explains the study predicts 2080 as the year we’ll see the affects. And at the end he says “Of course the coffee in your cup doesn’t come from wild trees”, which causes me to question the point of the story. It’s misleading to the listener/reader when he says something is in danger but then causes confusion about that statement toward the very end.

This is just one example of how science stories are often sensationalized through headlines and leads in order to attract the attention of readers. Of course, it’s important to draw in readers, but it’s more important to uphold the integrity of the story. This story could have benefited from a text piece better explaining why the wild coffee plants are important.

Despite its content flaws, I did enjoy the 60 second podcast. I typically just see articles on Scientific American so it’s refreshing to see a science publication try to utilize multimedia. I think scientific stories are often easier to understand when they are explained in more conversational mediums like this podcast.

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