The new study hopes people who love a cold brew will help bring more attention to the threat of global warming.
Though the vast majority of scientists around the globe believe that human-caused climate change is putting the entire planet at risk, skepticism over these claims is still frustratingly pervasive. So a group of scientists decided to turn to a topic they hope your average Joe six-pack can relate to: beer.
Needless to say, the news is not good. As you might expect, the paper, which was published today in the journal Nature Plants, suggests that climate change could have serious repercussions for both the beer industry and beer drinkers—with global prices potentially doubling on average during the most severe climate conditions predicted. Even in the best case scenario, the study predicts that beer prices will rise by about 15 percent.
Unsurprisingly, the inspiration for the study came at the bar after a series of climate change lectures in China. “We were drinking beer,” Dabo Guan, a professor of climate change economics at the U.K.’s University of East Anglia who co-author of the study, told CNN. Then they thought, “Maybe we can do something on beer, because nobody has done that."
At the heart of their study is beer’s main ingredient (after water, that is) which is barley. Barley yields “decline sharply in periods of extreme drought and heat,” the paper states. With a mix of crop and economic models, the researchers determined that “extreme events may cause substantial decreases in barley yields worldwide,” up to 17 percent under the worst possible scenario, which could lead to “dramatic regional decreases in beer consumption and increases in beer prices.”
Though the paper openly admits that beer prices and availability are “not the most concerning impact of future climate change,” Guan hopes people will relate to the impact climate change can have on such a common and beloved product. “If you want to have the choice for not only beer but chocolate, coffee, tea, cigars,” he told CNN, “all of those crops are very much vulnerable to climate change.”