In a collaboration that came about over drinks, an international team of climate researchers has modelled the effects of climate change on barley and beer production. Their predictions, published today (October 15) in Nature Plants, include a drop of 3 percent to 17 percent in barley yields by 2099, a decrease in the supply of beer, and sharp increases in prices.
“Climate change will affect all of us, not only people who are in India or African countries,” coauthor Dabo Guan of the University of East Anglia in the UK tells Reuters.
CNN reports that Guan and others hatched the idea for the study when they went out for beers in China after a series of lectures. They used climate change data to model the projected effects on barley yields and the economic response to those changes. Under the most severe scenario for a decline in crops, the price of beer could as much as double in some countries, they found.
The study "raises a lot of important [questions] about how our food supply is going to adapt to a changing climate," Caroline Sluyter of the nonprofit advocacy group Oldways Whole Grains Council who was not involved in the study tells CNN.
“When we have these shortages, our models suggest people are going to feed the barley to the livestock before they make beer,” coauthor Stephen Davis of the University of California, Irvine, tells Wired. “That makes sense. This is a luxury commodity and it’s more important to have food on the table.”
"[I]f 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," Guan tells CNN.