CLIMATE CHANGE MIGHT DOUBLE THE COST OF A BEER

BEER DRINKERS MIGHT pay more and find less of their favorite beverage as climate change comes for barley. Scientists expect that extreme droughts and heat waves will become more frequent and intense in the regions that grow the grain.

Many farmers are already adapting to the slowly warming planet—with advanced plant breeding techniques to create more drought-resistant grains, for example, and by using more efficient irrigation systems to conserve water—but a new study out today in the journal Nature Plants says that many regions won’t be able to cope with the arid conditions of the future. The work was done by a group of researchers in China along with Steven J. Davis, an environmental scientist at the University of California Irvine.

The team looked at the areas around the world that grow barley, which is turned into malt for beer, and projected what will occur under five different climate warming scenarios by 2100. Using models of both economic activity and climate change, the group made predictions about what will happen to barley production, as well as beer price and consumption.

During the most severe climate events, the study predicts that global beer consumption would decline by 16 percent, an amount about equal to the total annual beer consumption of the United States in 2011. It also expects average beer prices to double. Each country would be affected differently. The price of a single pint of beer in Ireland, for example, will rise by $4.84, followed by $4.52 in Italy and $4.34 in Canada. American tipplers will see beer prices rise up to $1.94 under the extreme events, the study said, and barley farmers will export more to other nations.

Davis, who has published several papers on climate change and the Chinese economy, says many extreme drought and heat events will force farmers to feed barley to livestock instead of selling it to domestic breweries. “When we have these shortages, our models suggest people are going to feed the barley to the livestock before they make beer,” Davis said. “That makes sense. This is a luxury commodity and it’s more important to have food on the table.”

Article courtesy of: www.wired.com

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