Global climate change

Climate change expected to have significant impacts on the global supply of beer

By Brett Anderson, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
10/18/2018, 10:31:26 AM

Droughts and heat waves that will be exacerbated by man-made global warming will lead to significant declines in barley crop production, which is a key ingredient in the production of beer.

This will also lead to future price increases of this very popular drink, according to the study, which was lead by the University of California at Irvine and recently published in the journal Nature Plants.

According to the University of California at Irvine News, researchers modeled scenarios based on current and expected future levels of fossil fuel burning and carbon dioxide emissions. In the worst case, parts of the world where barley is grown, including the northern Great Plains, Canadian prairies, Europe, Australia and the Asian steppe, were projected to experience more frequent concurrent droughts and heat waves, causing declines in crop yields of 3 to 17 percent.

If the world continues with "business as usual" in terms of fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, it will result in the worst case scenario, as more weather extremes negatively impact the world's production of beer.

Only 17 percent of the world's barley is used for brewing beer, according to the report. A majority of barley goes toward feed for livestock. In the future, producers of barley will have to decide whether or not to prioritize hungry livestock over thirsty humans. Most likely they will favor the livestock.

"Our results show that in the most severe climate events, the supply of beer could decline by about 16 percent in years when droughts and heat waves strike," said study co-author Steven Davis, who is a UCI associate professor of Earth System Science. "That's comparable to all beer consumption in the U.S. Future climate and pricing conditions could put beer out of reach for hundreds of millions of people around the world."

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or


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Global climate change