Climate Change Could Lead to Global Beer Shortage, Study Finds

Adjust Comment Print

"One of the greatest challenges as a scientist doing research on climate change and food is to illustrate it in a way that people can understand", U.S. Department of Agriculture scientist Lewis Ziska said in an email. In Ireland, a small country with a relatively high per capita beer consumption, prices could go up by as much as 338 percent per bottle. The country could see consumption dropped by approximately 4.43 billion liters during the most severe climate conditions.

Global warming is likely to cause a major drop in global yields of barley - a vital ingredient for brewers.

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.

Beer prices could double worldwide and the US could see 20% decline in beer consumption-that's about 10 billion cans of beer. Hoping to determine how the grain's outlook might impact beer availability and pricing in the future, an global team of scientists ran a series of computer models in three areas: climate, crops and economics.

"Climate change will affect all of us, not only people who are in India or African countries", Guan said.

Beer is the most commonly imbibed alcoholic beverage in the world, and reductions in brewing would inevitably affect prices.

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.

The study actually predicted that northern United States and China could actually see an increase in the amount of barley harvested - but the US may decide to "increase their exports to meet demand in other countries" instead of making more beer.

Per capita, most of the top-20 beer-drinking nations are in Europe, along with the United States, New Zealand and Australia. Decreases in the global supply of barley lead to proportionally larger decreases in barley used to make beer.

Guan said that less consumption of beer and price hike in the future may actually be beneficial as it will promote a healthier lifestyle among heavy drinkers. This research, he said, was "born of love and fear".

While previous research has looked in detail at what climate change means for essentials like wheat or rice, less attention has been paid to so-called "luxury goods".

"There is little doubt that, for millions of people, around the world, the climate impacts of beer will add insult to injury".