Trouble brewing as climate change affects beer supply

Federico Mansilla
Octubre 16, 2018

The apocalyptic impact of climate change has finally been revealed - the price of beer could soar to a tenner a pint (on top of all the global drought, starvation, rising seas and so on).

Only the highest quality grain - less than 20 percent - is used to make beer, with most of the rest used as feedstock. Dabo Guan, a co-author of the study and a professor of climate change economics at the University of East Anglia, and a team of scientists examined scenarios resulting from climate change and then figured out the impact on global barley yields and beer prices.

Barley growing regions including the northern Great Plains of the USA, the Canadian prairies, Europe, Australia, and the Asian steppe were all likely to experience more frequent droughts in years to come as a result of global warming, the study in the journal Nature Plants reported.

Some countries will get hit harder by beer shortages and higher bar tabs than others, the study found.

Extreme heatwaves and droughts will increasingly damage the global barley crop, meaning a common ingredient of the world's most popular alcoholic drink will become scarcer.

From 2010 to the end of the century, they found, there will be 17 such events if humanity manages to cap global warming under two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and 139 if current rates of carbon pollution persist.

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The next step was to estimate how these "barley supply shocks" would affect the production and price of beer in each region.

At the same time, the "cross-cultural appreciation of beer" is deep and widespread, he noted.

Hundreds of millions of beer lovers could lose affordable access to their favourite alcohol within a few decades, as the crops used to brew it may not survive human-driven climate change.

"We have to all work together to mitigate climate change", said Guan, according to CNN.

As the adage goes, "It's all fun and games until the beer runs out".

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