Climate change may brew trouble for beer lovers

Andrew Cummings
October 17, 2018

The study says global warming will lead to substantial decreases in barley crop yields, which means fewer gallons of beer and an increase in the price of a pint.

Co-author Dr Nathan Mueller, also from the University of California at Irvine, said: "Current levels of fossil fuel consumption and CO2 (carbon dioxide) pollution - business as usual - will result in this worst-case scenario, with more weather extremes negatively impacting the world's beer basket".

Richard Ellis, professor from University of Reading in England, said that the study, which he was not involved in, could actually be lowballing the price increases for beer if nothing is done to curb climate change, according to The Guardian.

In a worst-case scenario of severe climate change events, the price of a six-pack of beer could rise by $28 in some countries.

On top of rising sea levels and extreme weather, scientists have predicted that human-caused climate change will result in another dire effect: a disruption in the global beer supply. They used climate change data to model the projected effects on barley yields and the economic response to those changes.

Beer production could plummet thanks to global warming. The study found that in less extreme weather events, crop yields could still fall by three percent.

"For perhaps many millennia, and still at present for many people, beer has been an important component of social gatherings and human celebration", the team said in their report.

"We were drinking beer", he said, and they thought, "Maybe we can do something on beer, because nobody has done that".

And the results of these two were given as inputs into a third, an algorithm that modelled the economy and showed price fluctuations of barley and beer.

"That's comparable to all the beer consumption in the USA", he added, "Future climate and pricing conditions could put beer out of reach for hundreds of millions of people around the world".

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In 2017, USA beer sales exceeded $34 billion, according to Brewbound, which cited data from IRI Worldwide.

Results appear in Monday's journal Nature Plants.

Prices will spike the most in Ireland, Italy, Canada and Poland.

Another element to consider, Watson and Swersey say, is the research that's being done to help not only barley but also hops - another crucial ingredient in beer - withstand high temperatures and drought.

"Changes in barley supply due to extreme events will affect the barley available for making beer differently in each region because the allocation of barley among livestock feed, beer brewing and other uses will depend on region-specific prices and demand", it read.

"This is something I don't want to see happen", he said.

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