Listen Closely and You Can Hear the Coming of Coffee’s Full-Blown Labor Crisis
The coffee leaf rust crisis in Central America during the 2012-13 crop year is a recent and painful example. There were people calling attention to coffee leaf rust before the epidemic hit Mesoamerica, but we failed to recognize the magnitude of the threat. Peter Baker, the coffee and climate scientist, reminded the First Coffee Rust Summit in Guatemala City in 2013 that there were warnings as early as 2010. There is, of course, no guarantee we would have been able to effectively mitigate the threat posed by coffee leaf rust if we had done a better job of what the literature on horizon-scanning calls “amplifying weak signals.” But our collective failure to amplify this weak signal meant we were blindsided by something we could have seen coming.