• Valentine's Day: Chocolate, Roses & Champagne & the climate

    By: Irene Sans


    For months they have been all over the stores -- lots of chocolates and roses. These are the classics gifts given to friends and loved ones on this holiday.

    But have you ever stopped to think where the millions of roses grow?

    February is the time when chocolate factories reach an all-time high in sales and production, but where is the cocoa from? What climate is more favorable for the rich bean to grow?

    Let’s start out with the $20 billion business, roses.

    These flowers are grown in warmer climates. For U.S. markets, 60 percent of the roses come from Colombia and Ecuador. In order to meet the holiday’s high demand, roses are grown in greenhouses.

    Ninety percent of these loads come through Miami International Airport. A plane can hold 3,000 boxes of roses, or about 300,000 roses, are worth $1 million!

    From the airplane, they have to be moved quickly to keep them at the right temperature. Within minutes, they are placed in a 40-degree warehouse. After a rigorous inspection by federal agents, off they go to the retailers.

    LOCAL IMPACT: Volusia County's fern industry struggles to meet Valentine's Day demand

    One hundred million roses are grown for Valentine’s Day for the U.S., and that produces about 9,000 metric tons of CO2.


    Moving on to the “food for the gods”:

    Cocoa trees grow well in climates where the finished chocolate would melt in your hands.

    Between 20 degrees north and south of the Equator, under specific conditions: uniform temperatures, high humidity, abundant rain, nitrogen-rich soil and protection from the winds.

    This is why they thrive in rainforests!

    Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Indonesia are the leading producers of chocolate. Research by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that if the climate scenario doesn’t change by 2050, there will be a marked reduction in suitable cultivation area.


    But the danger to cultivation doesn’t necessarily spring from warmer temperatures, it is because of increasing evapotranspiration. As the soil and plants release more water due to the higher temperatures, the rainfall will not increase at the same rate to offset the moisture loss.

    Climate Central

    Adaptation is the key. Since we are looking at 2050, there is still time to adapt and change so that we, and the future generations, can continue enjoying the treats. Most important, there is time for the cocoa farmers to continue making a living by meeting the global demand and maintain the habitat.

    And if you are not into the chocolate or roses and just want to celebrate with a glass of the bubbly, here are some facts: 

    • Champagne sold in the U.S. cannot be called Champagne unless they are made from the actual grapes grown in the Champagne region of France (not Illinois). 
    • Although the warming temperatures have increase the quality in wine production, the rate of warming continues to accelerate at a very fast pace. This means that the projected 2°C/3.6°F rise in temperatures by mid-century would push the Champagne region out of  its peak production climate.
    • Wine and champagne production will have to continue moving northward in order to continue growth and keep the quality of the products. But, many industries and cities such as Champagne in France, even national wineries will have to adapt to the changes, potentially losing millions and directly affecting their workers. Even you, the celebrant.

    Climate Central


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