Watch out, Brett Kavanaugh. Your beloved brewskis will soon be in jeopardy, thanks to climate change.
A new study published in the journal Nature Plants has shown that there will be a beer shortage due to projected drought and extreme heat caused by climate change. That’s because barley, beer’s main ingredient, is sensitive to extreme heat temperatures.
The study was conducted by a group of climate change scientists who wanted to draw an accurate picture of how global warming wouldn’t just affect natural resources, but also what they termed “luxury essentials.”
“The aim of the study is not to encourage people to drink more today,” Dabo Guan, a co-author of the study and a professor of climate change economics at the University of East Anglia in the U.K., said to CNN.
Rather, their purpose was to illustrate how personal the effects of global warming could actually be.
“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.”
To come up with this projection, the scientists looked at the impacts on barley crops and beer prices by blending climate, crop and economic models.
The result, Guan said, was that “the majority of countries will have a decline in barley.”
On average, the scientists estimated that global barley yields would decline between three per cent and 17 per cent, depending on the severity of the weather. In the worst case scenario of supply and demand, global beer consumption would decline by 16 per cent, while prices would double. To put that perspective, it’s the equivalent of 29 billion litres, or the annual beer consumption in the U.S.
A rosier projection estimates a four per cent decline in consumption with a 15 per cent price increase.
Guan says small countries, like Ireland, Estonia and the Czech Republic, stand to suffer the most in terms of price spikes. He predicts that consumption per capita could plummet by 75 per cent in Ireland alone.
“Really, the countries who love beer will suffer a lot,” he said.
But Guan and his colleagues also see this as a social issue that would lead to instability, like that seen during prohibition.
“This is something I don’t want to see happen,” he said. “People should learn from the past. If you want to have the choice for not only beer but chocolate, coffee, tea, cigars — all of those crops are very much vulnerable to climate change.”