Coffee may disappear…along with other goodies

Your morning coffee is in a perilous state. There are just two species of coffee plants on which the entire multibillion-dollar industry is based: One of them is considered poor-tasting, and the other, which you’re likely familiar with, is threatened by climate change and a deadly fungal disease.

Dan Saladino, a BBC journalist and author of the new book Eating to Extinction: The World’s Rarest Foods and Why We Need to Save Them…argues that the diversity of food is actually in decline. Of the hundreds of thousands of wheat varieties that farmers once cultivated, for example, only a handful are now farmed on a large scale…

As we grow and harvest fewer varieties of plants and animals, the foods you can buy in the grocery store may become less nutritious and flavorful, and — as the current state of coffee demonstrates — the global food system could become less resilient. That’s why it’s so crucial to lift up communities that are protecting foods from disappearing, Saladino told Vox in an interview about his new book.

RTFA. An interesting viewpoint and conclusion I don’t wholly agree with. But, hey, if Saladino is correct – even part way – we will be facing a new kind of food crop problem.

How accurate are Punxsutawney Phil’s forecasts?

Phil and his handler AJ DerumeJeff Swensen/Getty

Crowds showed up this morning to watch as Punxsutawney Phil came out of his “burrow,” only to see … his shadow on 2-2-22. As the legend has it, that means six more weeks of winter weather…Phil the groundhog has been forecasting the weather on Groundhog Day for more than 120 years, but just how good is he at his job?

Not very, it turns out.

Punxsutawney Phil was first tasked with predicting the upcoming spring weather in 1887, and the process hasn’t changed much since. The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, takes care of Phil year-round, and on each Feb. 2, members of the club’s Inner Circle rouse Phil at sunrise (this morning, they awakened him at 7:25 a.m.) to see if he casts a shadow. (Contrary to popular belief, Phil doesn’t actually have to see his shadow; he just has to cast one to make his wintery prophecy.)

Data from the Stormfax Almanac’s data shows that Phil’s six-week prognostications have been correct about 39% of the time.

Phil does a shade poorer when you check his performance against actual weather outcomes since 1969, when the accuracy of weather records is less in question, said Tim Roche, a meteorologist at Weather Underground. From 1969 on, Phil’s overall accuracy rate drops to about 36%.

Cultural icons are meant to be just that and – very often – not more. Sill an enjoyable read.