A new scientific study suggests that with large-scale drought affecting the regions where barley is grown, beer prices are going to skyrocket. Gulp.
It’s time to panic folks. Climate change has officially come to take everything we hold dear – including beer.
An academic paper published in the journal Nature Plants states that many barley-producing regions around the world will be hit particularly hard by the arid conditions brought about by climate change.
Judging by volume consumed, beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage in the world. Crops of barley — the main ingredient of beer — decline sharply in periods of extreme heat and drought. That’s a bad combination for beer lovers and producers.
The research team studied global crop and economic models to evaluate current environmental conditions, with the goal of predicting future climate scenarios. Allow me to put their complex findings into layman’s terms: they found that we are up shit creek without a paddle.
Scientists predict that depending on the direct intensity of the conditions, average yield losses will range from 3-17%. A decrease in barley means a shortage of beer, which, if my high-school economics is right, means a sharp increase in beer prices. Ouch.
If you were having a hard time imagining the scenario for the end of the world, we might have found it, folks.
One of the authors of the paper, professor Steven J. Davis from the Department of Earth System Science at the University of California, says that conditions will be so harsh, farmers will be forced to feed barley to livestock instead of selling it the alcohol industry.
“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. In an affluent country like the United States, people might not be so concerned if their bread gets 10 to 25 cents more expensive.
“It could be that luxury goods are actually more visible, in terms of the impact of climate change on affluent consumers. There is definitely a cross-cultural appeal to beer, and not having a cool pint at the end of an increasingly common hot day just adds insult to injury.”
I guess we can’t argue with that logic, but I’m going to have a hard time switching over to cider.