How your morning coffee could be driving species to extinction

Your morning coffee could be driving species to extinction, according to researchers.

A report found consumers in rich countries could be unintentionally driving the extinction of species in poorer countries far way.

The research, led by the University of Sydney, found the consumption of food, beverage and agriculture products in rich countries is the greatest driver of consumption-driven extinction risk and is responsible for 39 per cent of the global extinction-risk footprint.

Focusing on more than 5,000 species in 188 countries, the study discovered consumption in 76 countries concentrated in Europe, North America, and East Asia (such as Japan and South Korea) primarily drove species extinction risk in other countries.

It also found international trade drives 29.5 percent of the global extinction-risk footprint.

Around 1 million species already face extinction, many within decades, according to the recent Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) assessment report.

Affected species include the Nombre de Dios Streamside Frog in Honduras and the Malagasy Giant Jumping Rat in Madagascar.

According to the study, the US drives 24 per cent of the extinction-risk footprint of the critically endangered Nombre de Dios Streamside Frog (Craugastor fecundus).

The US drives 24 per cent of the extinction-risk footprint of the critically endangered Nombre de Dios Streamside Frog, found in Honduras, according to a study


Lead researcher Amanda Irwin, a PhD candidate from the University of Sydney’s Integrated Sustainability Analysis research group, said: “The complexity of economic interactions in our globalized world means that the purchase of a coffee in Sydney may contribute to biodiversity loss in Honduras.

“The choices we make every day have an impact on the natural world, even if we don’t see this impact.”

“Everything that we consume has been derived from the natural world, with raw materials transformed into finished products through a myriad of supply chain transactions.

“These transactions often have a direct impact on species.”

The researchers said the biodiversity crisis was similar to the climate crisis – although less well known.

“These crises are occurring in parallel,” said Ms Irwin. “The upcoming COP-15 will hopefully raise the profile of the other human-driven natural crisis of our generation – irreparable biodiversity loss – and our findings can provide valuable insights into the role that global consumption plays as one of the drivers of this loss. ”

Co-author Dr Juha Siikamäki, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) chief economist, added: “This insight into how prevalently consumption patterns influence biodiversity loss across the globe is critical to inform ongoing international negotiations for nature, including the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, which aims to finalize the post-2020 global biodiversity framework later this year.

“The finding from this study that about 30 percent of the global extinction-risk footprint is embedded in international trade underlines the need to consider the responsibilities of different countries and all actors, including financing of conservation, not only in the context of their national boundaries but extending to their impacts internationally.”

Published in Nature: Scientific Reportsthe paper is a collaboration between the University of Sydney, IUCN, Newcastle University (UK) and the International Institute for Sustainability in Brazil.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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