Climate change is threatening world’s beer supply

Climate change could cause beer prices to soar - study

In 2018, it appears science is proposing a new way the world ends - not just with climate change, but also with a lack of beer.

"The aim of the study is not to encourage people to drink more today", said Dabo Guan, a co-author of the study and a professor of climate change economics at University of East Anglia in Norwich, United Kingdom.

By volume, beer is by far the most popular alcoholic drink in the world, with almost 200 billion litres produced in 2017.

The research paper has attracted wide attention, as it gives people a very concrete reference point from which to view the concept of climate change.

Though not falling into that category, China, the largest beer-consuming country, may also witness an 83-percent rise in price, according to the study.

Under four different weather scenarios created for the years from 2010 to 2099, the world's barley growers would see "yield losses [that] range from 3 percent to 17 percent depending on the severity of the conditions", according to the study. But they said it would affect the quality of life of many people.

The worldwide study, which also involved researchers from China, Mexico and the USA, modelled the impacts of a range of climate change predictions on barley yields in 34 world regions.

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.

Per capita, most of the top-20 beer-drinking nations are in Europe, along with the United States, New Zealand and Australia.

The issue has been recognised by Danish brewery giant Carlsberg, which has started preparations in response to the challenge of climate change.

Among the more dramatic price surges possible, the study found that the cost of the barley-based brew in Ireland could rise by about 193 percent. "A sufficient beer supply may help with the stability of entertainment and communication in society", Guan said.

During the most severe climate events, the results indicate that global beer consumption would decline by 16%, or 29 billion litres - roughly equal to the total annual beer consumption in the U.S. - and that beer prices would on average double.

Even though the reduction in barley yield could not be termed as the most concerning impact of the climate change, it would invariably affect the economic accessibility of beer as it would be more expensive to buy the widely consumed and the most popular alcoholic beverage.

Here in the US, two thirds of the barley crop is used to make beer. This research, he said, was "born of love and fear".

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