Global warming will lead to beer, coffee shortage, scientists say

Cesar Mills
October 16, 2018

Prof Dabo Guan, who is a member of the research team at the University of East Anglia, said the projections of the study should serve as a call to action on climate change.

But this may not be an option for all of us in the future, with supplies expected to drop and prices expected to surge, according to research published in Nature Plants.

"Another way climate change will suck".

The findings suggest that total beer consumption decreases most under climate change in countries that consumed the most beer by volume in recent years.

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. But they said it would affect the quality of life of many people. Less than 20 percent of the world's barley is made into beer.

Guan and colleagues calculated the impact of severe weather events under different future climate scenarios - ranging from a sharp reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to our current "business as usual" trajectory - on yields in the world's 34 most important barley-growing regions.

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From 2010 to the end of the century, they found, there will be 17 such events if humanity manages to cap global warming under two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and 139 if current rates of carbon pollution persist.

The impact on beer prices could be gut-wrenching, the scientists have warned - and it'll be even worse in Ireland, with the price of a six pack shooting up £15.

Most of the barley produced worldwide is used for animal feed, with only about 17 per cent used for brewing.

"The world is facing many life-threatening impacts of climate change, so people having to spend a bit more to drink beer may seem trivial by comparison", said co-author Steven Davis, UCI associate professor of Earth system science, in a statement.

Whether the best- or worst-case scenario plays out, beer drinkers in Ireland, Canada, Poland and Italy will likely see prices increase the most, the study says. He also suggested that beer price hikes and shortages could affect social stability, comparing the situation to the Prohibition era in the United States, which saw the rise of organized crime based on the supply of illicit liquor.

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. Few people would complain if global warming ruined Brussels sprouts, he added. Consumption in the U.S. could decrease by between 1.08 billion and 3.48 billion litres.

Other reports by GizPress

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