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    February 14, 2012 | 10:55 AM

    Valentine's Day chocolate: soon an endangered species?

    © CC BY 2.0 Flickr/miguelpdl CC BY 2.0

    It's that time of year again, when your single friends become a bit more cynical, greeting card companies rake in millions, flowers are shipped around the country and chocolate is consumed by the truckloads (an estimated 58 million pounds worth in the United States alone).

    Although chocolate is a staple of lovers everywhere, especially on Valentine's Day, it's possible that it may become a luxury item due to climate change, forcing Valentines everywhere to be more creative and abandon the go-to heart-shaped box of chocolate because they can no longer afford it.

    While some chocolate is made exclusively for the rich, most of it is fairly inexpensive. However, with the climate headed in its current direction, that could all change soon.
    A new study commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation suggests that locations suitable for the production of cocoa trees could be reduced by half due to an increase in temperature of just 2.3 degrees Celsius by 2050, leading to a dramatic increase in the price of chocolate.

    The reality is, chocolate is another serious force in our global economy that is negatively affected by climate change. Chocolate production is a multi-billion-dollar industry (current global market value of annual cocoa crop is $5.1 billion) that affects some 40-50 million farmers and workers worldwide.

    © 2007 Flickr/chrisamichaels CC BY 2.0

    It's not just chocolate: Sugar, nuts, wine, coffee, and even maple syrup flavorings could be in danger. You can find out more in this eye-opening graphic.

    While it's not necessary to start stockpiling cans of milk chocolate, waiting for the price to skyrocket, this recent study does provide some (chocolately) food for thought. However, if prices increase dramatically, be prepared to convince your significant other that heart-shaped beets are a much more mouth-watering gift on Valentine's Day than chocolate.

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