In news that is bound to become a storyline on The Simpsons at some point, a new study published in Nature today says climate change is likely going to make beer more expensive.
From that study’s abstract (emphasis ours):
We couple a process-based crop model (decision support system for agrotechnology transfer) and a global economic model (Global Trade Analysis Project model) to evaluate the effects of concurrent drought and heat extremes projected under a range of future climate scenarios. We find that these extreme events may cause substantial decreases in barley yields worldwide. Average yield losses range from 3% to 17% depending on the severity of the conditions. Decreases in the global supply of barley lead to proportionally larger decreases in barley used to make beer and ultimately result in dramatic regional decreases in beer consumption (for example, −32% in Argentina) and increases in beer prices (for example, +193% in Ireland). Although not the most concerning impact of future climate change, climate-related weather extremes may threaten the availability and economic accessibility of beer.
Yikes! Ireland’s beer prices means we may have to re-think Dublin as future home for the Smart Kitchen Summit: Europe.
Sure, that’s a joke, and this is obviously serious stuff. This study comes just a week after a searing (pardon the pun) report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) saying basically we have a decade as a planet to get climate change under control.
There is a tendency to ignore the dire climate change warnings as the problem seems too big, our individual contribution too small, and the consequences too abstract. That’s in part why this report was written — to bring the climate change debate down to a level most people will understand: beer.
Steve Davis of the University of California, Irvine, and one of the co-authors of the Nature study, told the AP that one of the reasons they chose beer as their subject was to “drive home the not-that-palatable message that climate change is messing with all sorts of aspects of our daily lives.”
But every crisis is an opportunity, or as Homer Simpson called it — a “crisitunity”, and we regularly report on smart startups innovating in areas like combating food waste and improving supply chains. Hopefully more will hear this Clarion and act to save not just beer but, well, the planet.