Scientists make dire prediction: Global beer shortage

No barley no beer A beer brewer pulls malted barley from the mash tun at Wynwood Brewing Company in Miami Florida

Gathered in a bar after a series of lectures in China, Guan a group of climate change scientists wanted to find a new way to collaborate. "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".

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

Climate change has already taken a heavy toll on barley.

In the United Kingdom, beer consumption could fall by between 0.65 billion and 2.34 billion pints (0.37 to 1.33bn litres) while the price could as much as double. He also suggested that beer price hikes and shortages could affect social stability, comparing the situation to the Prohibition era in the U.S., which saw the rise of organized crime based on the supply of illicit liquor.

Global warming is likely to cause a major drop in global yields of barley - a vital ingredient for brewers.

Prof Guan said while climate change research has started to examine the impact on world food production, it tended to focus on staple crops such as wheat, maize, soybean, and rice.

The effects described in the report are complex, as the researchers used several forecast tools - one to predict a range of climate scenarios, one for agricultural yields and another to see the economic conditions that would be a likely result.

Only 17% of the barley produced in the world is used in brewing, the authors point out.

The authors of the study did note that the objective of the study is not meant to persuade people to consume more beer while the price is low.

Spikes in beer costs will also fluctuate depending on the region, with wealthy, beer-loving countries experiencing the highest increases in price.

Under the hottest scenario, China will suffer the most shortages this century, followed by the United States, Germany, and Russian Federation, it said. "The rest of the 83% is actually going to feed pigs and other animals, basically", Guan said, explaining that only good-quality barley is reserved for beer-making. Some northern areas of the US and Asia could see barely increases, but Guan says these will be minimal compared to losses.

The report comes days after the United Nations released it's special report on climate change - with scientists warning the world needed to take drastic action to reduce carbon pollution.

The Brewers Association, the USA trade group, responded to the study by calling it "largely an academic exercise and not one that brewers or beer lovers should lose any sleep over". "This is a paper born of love and fear", he said.

"Our results show that in the most severe climate events, the supply of beer could decline by about 16 per cent in years when droughts and heat waves strike", said co-author Steven Davis, also an associate professor of Earth system science at the UCI.

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