Published: Thu, October 18, 2018
Sci-tech | By Laverne Osborne

Climate change may result in adverse shortage and double price of beer

Climate change may result in adverse shortage and double price of beer

Hundreds of millions of beer lovers could lose affordable access to their favourite alcohol within a few decades, as the crops used to brew it may not survive human-driven climate change.

"Increasingly research has begun to project the impacts of climate change on world food production, focusing on staple crops such as wheat, maize, soybean, and rice", said Dabo Guan, a professor at UEA. In our study, we took beer as one such example, to highlight the ways climate change will affect our lives.

The United Kingdom may decrease its beer consumption by between 0.37 billion and 1.33 billion liters while the price may double.

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.

Barley is one of the main ingredients used to make beer, and about a sixth of global harvests go towards beer production.

Xie Wei, lead author of the article and researcher at China's Peking University, said concurrent drought and heat waves, which will become more frequent and severe in the backdrop of global warming, are estimated to reduce global barley output by between 3 and 17 percent this century. But researchers behind the report said it will affect the quality of life for many people.

The worldwide study involved researchers from the UK, China, Mexico, and the U.S., who modelled the impacts of extreme climate events on barley yields in 34 world regions.

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The economic models used in the paper demonstrated strong potential for price surges in some beer-loving countries, and whether or not people get to enjoy a frosty mug of suds will likely depend on their willingness to pay.

The study noted that a decrease in beer consumption may be highly notable in markets that consumed the most beer by volume.

The report comes days after the United Nations released it's special report on climate change - with scientists warning the world needed to take drastic action to reduce carbon pollution. A decrease in the global supply of barley leads to a dramatic regional decrease in beer consumption and an increase in beer prices.

The craft beer industry is already planning for the future, says Chris Swersey, a supply chain specialist at the Brewer's Association, a trade group that represents 4,500 small breweries across the country. Increased price for a beer pint in a shop or pub could result in the alcoholic beverage becoming a luxurious good and unaffordable for the people belonging to the working class.

"Really, the countries who love beer will suffer a lot", he said.

Beer joins other "luxury products" like coffee and wine that may be severely impacted by climate change.

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