Scientists: Climate Change Could Double Cost of Beer

It appears as if beer can now join wine, coffee and chocolate as some of the little pleasure’s in life that global warming will make costlier and scarcer, said scientists.

Increasing waves of extreme heat added to drought will hurt barley production and barley is an important ingredient in the making of beer. Barley yields could be lower by as much as 17%, international researchers estimated.

What that means is beer prices could double on average, even when adjusting for inflation, showed a study just released on Monday in Nature Plants. For countries such as Ireland, where the cost of beer is high already, prices may triple.

These findings come just one week after a United Nations dire report described the consequences of high levels of climate change that included worsening shortages of food and water, heat waves, rises in sea level, and disease.

The co-author of the beer study Steve Davis from the University of California Irvine said beer research has been partly carried out to push home that climate change already is messing with different aspects of the daily lives of people.

Several scientists who did not take part in the study said it appeared sound and was perhaps an effective way to communicate global warming dangers.

Scientists have known for a long time that barley is one of the world’s most heat-sensitive crops but the study is able to connect that to something people are concerned with – the price of their beer, therefore it is valuable, said an agricultural ecologist from California’s Stanford University.

Globally, barley is used in all sorts of things, but mostly for feeding of livestock. Less than 20% of the barley worldwide is made to use in beer. However, in the U.S., China, and Brazil, as much as two thirds of the barley becomes beer.

Researchers looked at only the combination of drought and heat waves, not general warming that will likely affect the areas in which barley is grown.

If heat-trapping gases from the burning of gas, oil and coal continue at the present pace, which continues to increase, the likelihood of climate conditions hurting the production of barley will increases from approximately once per decade prior in 2050 to once every two years by the end of the current century, showed data in the report.