Climate Change Could Cause 'Dramatic' Beer Shortage
18 October, 2018, 09:42 | Author: Emmett Howard
An worldwide team of scientists from the U.S., Britain, and China examined the effect of climate change on barley over the next 80 years of timespan. But perhaps understanding the threats to the beloved beverage will make some people more inclined to care about the impact of climate change on the world's crops. Supplies of the most-consumed alcoholic beverage in the world will suffer and prices will soar. What will be the climate change impact on luxury essentials?
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. The team put this output into a social economic model that included beer production estimates and global trading forecasts. Depending on how severe these climate events play out, researchers estimate the average barley crop loss could range from 3-percent to 17-percent.
Consumption in the U.S. could decrease between 1.08 billion and 3.48 billion litres. The researchers then used economic models to interpret the real-term financial impact that shortages could have on the beer industry.
"Especially for rich people in the developed countries, they have the choice now and, if we don't do anything on climate change mitigation, those choices may not be available anymore", said Guan.
While the majority of the world's barley is used to feed livestock, the researchers believe beer will be more affected, as governments are likely to prioritise keeping animals fed when grain is in short supply.
"Our results show that in the most severe climate events, the supply of beer could decline by about 16 percent in years when droughts and heat waves strike", Davis said.
"For beer drinkers, this (study) converts an abstract concept. into the more real future price of beer", Ellis said, according to The Guardian.
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The effects of climate change are already being felt by craft brewers, says Katie Wallace, director of social and environmental responsibility at New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado.
However, some individual countries may see much greater price hikes than these averages, since the study factored in how much demand will be able to withstand the price pressure. In 2014, the USA barley-growing region - Montana, North Dakota, and Idaho - was hit by an extremely wet and warm winter that caused crops to sprout early, rendering much of it useless.
Per capita, most of the top-20 beer-drinking nations are in Europe, along with the United States, New Zealand and Australia. "A sufficient beer supply may help with the stability of entertainment and communication in society", according to Guan.
This could lead to beer shortages, driving the prices up in countries including China, the US, Germany and Russian Federation.
"It may be argued that consuming less beer isn't itself disastrous, and may even have health benefits", Guan said in a statement from the University of East Anglia, where he works.
"Although some attention has been paid to the potential impact of climate change on luxury crops such as wine and coffee, the impact on beer has not been carefully evaluated".
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