Climate change could cause beer prices to soar

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In 2018, it appears science is proposing a new way the world ends - not just with climate change, but also with a lack of beer.

"Current levels of fossil fuel consumption and Carbon dioxide pollution - business as usual - will result in this worst-case scenario, with more weather extremes negatively impacting the world's beer basket", co-author Nathan Mueller added in the release.

The parts of the world where barley is grown - including the northern Great Plains, Canadian prairies, Europe, Australia and the Asian steppe - are projected to experience more frequent droughts and heat waves.

Beer is the most popular alcoholic drink in the world by volume consumed.

It revealed that in the United Kingdom, beer consumption could drop by between 0.37bn and 1.33bn litres, while the price could as much as double.

The impact on beer prices could be gut-wrenching, the scientists have warned - and it'll be even worse in Ireland, with the price of a six pack shooting up £15.

Extreme heat and drought could ravage harvests of barley, a key ingredient in beer. But researchers behind the report said it will affect the quality of life for many people.

The global study involved researchers from the UK, China, Mexico, and the U.S., who identified extreme climate events and modelled the impacts of these on barley yields in 34 world regions.

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"Climate change will affect all of us, not only people who are in India or African countries", Guan said.

Most of the barley produced worldwide is used for animal feed, with only about 17 per cent used for brewing.

Changes in barley supply would cause beer prices to double, on average, and global beer consumption would fall by 16 percent.

The study, published in Monday's journal Nature Plants indicates in countries like Ireland, where cost of a brew is already high, prices could triple. According to scientists, the price of beer could be doubled in the following years.

Guan said that less consumption of beer and price hike in the future may actually be beneficial as it will promote a healthier lifestyle among heavy drinkers.

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. "A paper on beer might seem a little bit frivolous when it's dealing with a topic that poses existential threats", Davis said.

But Guan and his colleagues also see this as a social issue that would lead to instability, like that seen during prohibition. "People should learn from the past".

While previous research has looked in detail at what climate change means for essentials like wheat or rice, less attention has been paid to so-called "luxury goods".