Last call: Climate change will send beer prices up

Nothing much has worked so far to get the message through to the masses that climate change is real and it’s going to hurt. So a group of researchers have changed their approach. Drought? Famine? Floods? It’s not enough to get people interested.

But beer? That may finally be the tipping point, according to Steve Davis of the University of California, Irvine, whose research on the impact of climate change on beer prices seems to have stirred at least some people, the Associated Press reports.

The loss of barley will cause the price of beer to double, the research says. In Ireland, it could triple.

Several scientists who weren’t part of this study said it was sound and perhaps more effective way of communicating the dangers of global warming.

“One of the greatest challenges as a scientist doing research on climate change and food is to illustrate it in a way that people can understand,” U.S. Department of Agriculture scientist Lewis Ziska said in an email. Few people would complain if global warming ruined Brussels sprouts, he added.

Scientists have long known that barley “is one of the most heat-sensitive crops globally,” but this study connects that to something that people care about — the price of beer — so it’s valuable, said David Lobell, a Stanford University agriculture ecologist.

Davis, an IPA fan, is one of those people who care.

“This is a paper born of love and fear,” he said.

Why will the price of beer soar? Because there won’t be as much of it, according to the study published in the magazine Nature Plants.

“There is little doubt that for millions of people around the world, the climate impacts on beer availability and price will add insult to injury,” Prof Dabo Guan at the University of East Anglia, one of the research team, tells The Guardian. “There is something fundamental in the cross-cultural appreciation of beer.

“If you still want to still have a couple of pints of beer while you watch the football, then climate change [action] is the only way out. This is the key message.”

A sixth of the world’s barley crop is used for beer. The rest is fed to livestock. The researchers said using wheat instead may not be much of an option because the outlook isn’t much better for it.