Researchers from the UK, United States, and China have published an article in Nature Plants journal exploring the impact of climate change on the price of beer. Here’s the takeaway: “Climate-related weather extremes may threaten the availability and economic accessibility of beer.”
The researchers projected heat and drought trends and used those projections to analyze the possible impacts on barley crops. Their model projected that barley crop production could fall from 3-17% because of difficult growing conditions. Consequently, the decreased availability of barley would result in substantial price hikes on beer. Their analysis suggests a range of scenarios for different countries, but none of them would be described as exactly rosy for those who enjoy throwing back the liquid bread. For example, the researchers note that prices could increase by as much as 193% in Ireland.
This journal article joins other research that projects shortages and prices increases for luxury goods (e.g. coffee, chocolate). These studies have drawn a great deal of attention on social media, news sites, and blogs. But taking a step back allows for seeing the forest for the trees. This new journal article comes on the heels of last week’s more material news. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report indicating humans could be facing crisis scenarios as soon as 2040, including increased food shortages, flooding, and wildfires– barring full on transformation of the global economy. Island and coastal communities will be flooded and destroyed. Thousands of species will go extinct. Ninety-five percent of coral reef will die.
Unfortunately, academic consensus and dire warnings from researchers have not directly translated to action or shifts in public concern. This new report on potential beer price increases and ones like it may be part of a more effective strategy to grab consumers’ attention and bring home the realities of how climate change might affect their day-to-day lives — not to mention their wallets.