10 September 2013

Climate change is ruining my tea

This is really too much. Hurricanes, floods, droughts, all aggravated by climate change, and now the cruelest blow of all—it's ruining our tea.

India produces one-third of the world's tea with the state of Assam producing over half. Now increasing temperatures and diminishing rainfall are reducing Assam's production and fouling the taste of the tea. The once ideal climate is changing. An ambient temperature that used to be below 35 degrees C, now ranges up to 38 to 40 degrees in the shade and up to 50 in the sun. (Here's something I didn't know: photosynthesis slows at 35 degrees C, and after 39 degrees food production stops. Over 48 degrees, tea leaves stop breathing and die.)

Assam isn't alone in its misery. According to R.M. Bhagat, deputy director of the Tea Research Association, all tea-producing belts are being affected.

Sometimes it seems impossible to get the urgency of dealing with climate change through to our politicians. If even a threat to their cuppa won't work, we are indeed lost.

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