Published: Tue, October 16, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Beer shortage due to climate change? Yes, it could happen

Beer shortage due to climate change? Yes, it could happen

A new study, published in Nature Plants, highlights that extreme weather conditions, such as droughts and heat waves, in conjunction with global warming, will cause "sharp declines" in barley crops, the primary component of beer.

Climate change has already taken a heavy toll on barley. He added that "there is something fundamental in the cross-cultural appreciation of beer".

The study's researchers said that similar to prohibition-era laws, a global beer shortage will have the biggest impact on the working class.

If millennials don't kill the beer industry, climate change just might. These countries are expected to be impacted the most due to the large quantities of beer they brew from imported barley.

Only the highest quality grain - less than 20 percent - is used to make beer, with most of the rest used as feedstock.

Beer prices in the wake of these disruptive weather events would, on average, double. He also suggested that beer price hikes and shortages could affect social stability, comparing the situation to the Prohibition era in the U.S., which saw the rise of organized crime based on the supply of illicit liquor. In the worst case, parts of the world where barley is grown - including the northern Great Plains, Canadian prairies, Europe, Australia and the Asian steppe - were projected to experience more frequent concurrent droughts and heat waves, causing declines in crop yields of 3 to 17 per cent.

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"The world is facing many life-threatening impacts of climate change, so people having to spend a bit more to drink beer may seem trivial by comparison", said co-author Steven Davis, UCI associate professor of Earth system science.

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

Beer prices were predicted to rise most in wealthy beer-loving countries such as Belgium, Canada, Denmark and Poland.

The next step was to estimate how these "barley supply shocks" would affect the production and price of beer in each region. Consumption in the USA could decrease by between 1.08 billion and 3.48 billion litres. "That's comparable to all beer consumption in the U.S. Future climate and pricing conditions could put beer out of reach for hundreds of millions of people around the world".

According to The Guardian, he said: "There is little doubt that for millions of people around the world, the climate impacts on beer availability and price will add insult to injury".

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