Beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage in the world, and for good reason. It’s easy to drink, easy to make, and doesn’t taste too bad either. But barley, beer’s main ingredient, is sensitive to extreme drought and heat, and the impact of climate change could make your favorite lager a lot harder to come by.
According to a new study published in Nature Plants, climate change could significantly lower barley yields, leading beer supplies around the world to plummet by the end of the century. The United States, for example, could see a 20% drop in available beer. Not only will the beer supply decrease, but the prices per bottle will increase—as much as 6 or 7 times for countries like the Czech Republic, The New York Times reports. On average, beer prices could double globally.
While a beer shortage seems trivial compared to the threats of catastrophic flooding, more intense storms, and other effects of climate change, the researchers who participated in this study hope to awaken activism for those in richer countries, like China and the United States, by highlighting the effects a warming planet will have on luxury goods. These goods, like beer, coffee, and chocolate, aren’t necessary for survival, but the threat of losing them might be enough to get people to take meaningful action on climate change.
Only around 17% of the world’s barley supply is actually used for beer; the rest is fed to livestock like cows and pigs. The researchers found that hungry animals would be prioritized over making the next great IPA, so beer production would decrease dramatically as the shortage grew.
Dabo Guan, co-author of the study, told CNN, “If you don’t want that to happen—if you still want a few pints of beer—then the only way to do it is to mitigate climate change.”
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