This story is part of Record High, a Grist series examining extreme heat and its impact on how — and where — we live.
As the Northern Hemisphere emerges from the hottest summer on record, South America has, for now anyway, taken up the planet’s extreme-heat mantle. Winter just ended there, but a large swath of the continent is sweltering under an unprecedented heat dome that’s pushing temperatures above 110 degrees Fahrenheit in parts of Brazil. That could leave people paying more for a cup of joe.
The hot, dry conditions, spurred by El Niño’s warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean, have sparked wildfires and are threatening the livelihoods of farmers in a country that produces more coffee and soybeans than any other. The heat, coupled with a lack of rain, has disrupted the start of Brazil’s soy-planting season, and could keep coffee trees from fruiting. Java prices have surged globally as a result.
“There is always an impact from these conditions,” Jose Braz Matiello, a researcher at Brazil’s Funcafe... Read more