The National Catholic Reporter has published an article claiming global warming is the reason Guatemalans are illegally enter the United States. The article claims climate change is decimating the Guatemalan coffee crop, which in turn leaves hungry and broke Guatemalans no choice but to flee to the United States. Objective data from the International Coffee Organization, however, show global coffee crops are benefiting as the world continues its modest warming. Also, Guatemalan coffee production just experienced its fourth consecutive year of increasing production.
The Reporter article, titled “As climate effects hit coffee crops, Guatemalan farmers become migrants,” claims:
Many Central Americans arriving at the U.S. southern border are escaping a toxic mix of gang violence, poverty and corruption. But for record numbers of Guatemalans deciding to emigrate more recently, the root cause appears to be climate change and the devastating effect it has had on that country’s coffee crop.
The Guatemalan coffee industry is the country’s largest rural employer. Farmers and agricultural laborers, once employed in the sector, now find themselves largely out of work. They are abandoning their plantations and joining the exodus north.
The article certainly is correct that gang violence and poverty may inspire Guatemalans to leave their country, but the asserted global warming causation is clearly false.
According to the International Coffee Organization, global coffee farmers produced their all-time record crop in 2017. Moreover, each of the eight highest record global coffee crops were produced during the past eight years.
If global warming or global climate change is responsible for declining coffee production, why is global warming bringing record global coffee crops?
Would declining coffee production in a single country, while global coffee production grows, be a sign of global warming decimating coffee crops? Of course not. But even that is merely a hypothetical, because Guatemalan coffee production is doing quite well, also. Looking at data going back to 1990, the 2018 Guatemalan coffee crop was better than a majority of coffee crop years – even with all the violence and political disruption putting pressure on production. In fact, 2018 marked the fourth year in a row of increasing Guatemalan coffee production.
In neighboring Honduras, 2018 produced a record coffee crop, marking the fourth year in a row that a new record was set. Honduran coffee production is now so strong that the 2018 Honduran crop was more than triple the 2001-2010 average.
Nearby Brazil produces the world’s largest coffee crop, which is more than double the coffee crop of any other country. Brazilian coffee farmers produced a record crop in 2018, and all eight of the top eight Brazilian coffee crops were harvested during the past eight years.
So, coffee production is setting records globally, regionally, and in the most important coffee producing nations. Guatemalan production is at above-average levels. And yet climate alarmists claim global warming is the root cause of Guatemalan refugees. Such an assertion defies objective data and common sense.
Moreover, Guatemalan crop production as a whole is doing quite well as the Earth continues its modest recent warming. The chart below, produced from United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization data, shows Guatemalan production of the big three cereal crops – corn, wheat, and rice – is experiencing long-term growth. 2017, the most recent year for which data is available, produced the fourth largest Guatemalan cereal crop on record.