Tired of reading about impending environmental disaster over your toast and orange juice? You may not have to much longer. The orange juice may be disappearing. A horrifying (to citrus farmers, anyway) disease known as “citrus greening” has been spreading with astonishing speed through the citrus groves of the United States. Florida’s citrus crop this year is lower than it’s been in 30 years–over 70% of trees are now infected–and experts say that the future looks grim. A 20% rise in orange juice prices over the last year has growers, scientists, and the government alike trying out possible solutions, from breeding resistant varieties of the orange tree to releasing parasitic Pakistani wasps.
And it turns out the US isn’t alone in facing this problem. The disease, caused by a bacteria spread by the tiny Asian citrus psyllid, has run rampant through countries all over the world. In fact, this bacteria is the very culprit that contributed to the Persian lime shortage that struck this winter, causing many a salty tear to fall in citrus-starved margaritas the world over. That was one thing, and bad enough. But if a solution to the orange crisis can’t be found, we will lose not just some key ingredients in our late night margaritas, but a crucial element–orange juice–in our morning-after recovery sessions, too.