Climate Change Could Lead to Global Beer Shortage, Study Finds

Climate Change Could Lead to Global Beer Shortage, Study Finds”

Guan also noted that beer crops aren't the only ones likely to be affected by climate change.

Results from the new study revealed potential average yield losses ranging from 3% to 17%, depending on the severity of the conditions, researchers said. And the results of these two were given as inputs into a third, an algorithm that modelled the economy and showed price fluctuations of barley and 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.

Extreme heatwaves and droughts will increasingly damage the global barley crop, meaning a common ingredient of the world's most popular alcoholic drink will become scarcer.

"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, an assistant professor of Earth system science at the University of California, Irvine (UCI).

"Although the effects on beer may seem inconsequential in comparison to numerous other - some, life-threatening - impacts of climate change, there is nonetheless something fundamental in the cross-cultural appreciation of beer", the study said. Less than 20 percent of the world's barley is made into beer.

"Our results show that in the most severe climate events, the supply of beer could decline by about 16 per cent in years when droughts and heat waves strike", said co-author Steven Davis, also an associate professor of Earth system science at the UCI. The biggest consumer of beer today, China, is expected to see a drop of 4.34 billion litres.

In recent years, the beer sector consumed around 17% of global barley production, but the share varied drastically across major beer-producing countries - from 83% in Brazil to 9% in Australia. According to the United States scientists' economic model, the price of a six-pack of beer could go up by an extra €17 in Ireland.

Wealthy beer-loving nations, such as Canada, Belgium and Denmark, would see the sharpest price rises.

Richard Ellis, professor from University of Reading in England, said that the study, which he was not involved in, could actually be lowballing the price increases for beer if nothing is done to curb climate change, according to The Guardian. Decreases in global supply lead to proportionally larger decreases in barley used to make beer.

The study actually predicted that northern United States and China could actually see an increase in the amount of barley harvested - but the USA may decide to "increase their exports to meet demand in other countries" instead of making more beer. Consumption in the USA could decrease by between 1.08 billion and 3.48 billion litres.

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