Trouble brewing as climate change affects beer supply

James Marshall
October 16, 2018

The researchers said that compared with life-threatening affects of global warming such as the floods and storms faced by millions, a beer shortage may seem relatively unimportant.

The world's beer drinkers will be drowning their sorrows after a study found that the price of a pint could double because of climate change.

During severe climate events, global beer consumption would decline by 16 percent, or almost 30 billion litres - equal to all the beer quaffed each year in the United States, Guan and an worldwide team of researchers reported in the journal Nature Plants.

Barley, the main ingredient in beer, is particularly sensitive to extreme weather events such as droughts and heatwaves, which scientists say will become more frequent as the average temperature rises. The price hikes could vary from $4 to over $20 for a standard six-can pack.

"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.

Beer prices could double worldwide and the US could see 20% decline in beer consumption-that's about 10 billion cans of beer.

"Future climate and pricing conditions could put the beer out of reach for hundreds of millions of people around the world", professor Steven Davis of the University of California, Irvine, who is also one of the authors of the study, told The Guardian. And now it looks like it will cause a shortage of beer in the process.

"If you don't want that to happen-if you still want a few pints of beer-then the only way to do it is to mitigate climate change", said Guan. "There is something fundamental in the cross-cultural appreciation of beer. We have to all work together to mitigate climate change". Farmers will face a hard choice: to grow crops for luxurious products or for feeding their cattle.

"All these are going to be more expensive - chocolate, coffee and tea - all those crops are going to be suffering".

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