Oh no! Climate change will threaten beer supply, double prices

Oh no! Climate change will threaten beer supply, double prices

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.

But this may not be an option for all of us in the future, with supplies expected to drop and prices expected to surge, according to research published in Nature Plants.

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He added that "there is something fundamental in the cross-cultural appreciation of beer".

In a collaboration that came about over drinks, an worldwide team of climate researchers has modelled the effects of climate change on barley and beer production. Less than 20 percent of the world's barley is made into beer.

"Current levels of fossil fuel consumption and Carbon dioxide pollution - business as usual - will result in this worst-case scenario, with more weather extremes negatively impacting the world's beer basket", said co-author Nathan Mueller.

Only 17 per cent of the globe's barley is actually used in brewing; most is harvested as feed for livestock.

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The study actually predicted that northern United States and China could actually see an increase in the amount of barley harvested - but the US may decide to "increase their exports to meet demand in other countries" instead of making more beer.

"While the effects on beer may seem modest in comparison to numerous other - some life-threatening - impacts of climate change", he added, "there is nonetheless something fundamental in the cross-cultural appreciation of beer". 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.

"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. This is the key message", said professor Dabo Guan of the University of East Anglia, another researcher on the team.

Whether the best- or worst-case scenario plays out, beer drinkers in Ireland, Canada, Poland and Italy will likely see prices increase the most, the study says.

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

In the United Kingdom, beer consumption could fall between 0.37 billion and 1.33 billion litres, while the price could as much as double.

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