Global Warming to Leave Us Crying in Our Costlier Beer

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We hope our results might attract further attention from various beer-lovers who actually have the power to do something about global warming.

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.

"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", he said.

Just 17 percent of the world's barley crops are harvested to brew alcohol, while most of it goes to feed livestock.

That change is driven by a drop in barley yield, which could be as little as 3 percent or as large as 17 percent, the study says.

The loss of supply could lead to a major increase in prices. That equals out to about 29 billion litres less.

The findings suggest that total beer consumption decreases most under climate change in the countries that consumed the most beer by volume in recent years. The king of USA beer production remains Budweiser, which produces the No. 1 (Bud Light) and No. 3 (Budweiser) top-selling brands.

In the United Kingdom, beer consumption could fall by between 0.37 billion and 1.33 billion litres, while the price could as much as double.

"The aim of the study is not to encourage people to drink more today", Dabo Guan, a co-author of the study and a professor of climate change economics at the University of East Anglia, told CNN.

To project warming trends up through 2099, the researchers used computer models.

Overall, Sluyter said Guan and his team's research contributed to the larger picture where climate change proved to be a significant threat against the world's food supply.

The three big cereal crops for human consumption are corn, wheat and rice, she said: "Those three make up about 50% of the world's calories, so they're huge in people's diets".

Beer joins other "luxury products" like coffee and wine that may be severely impacted by climate change.

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 effect will worsen during extreme weather events, when deeper droughts and hotter days overlap.

"Although the magnitude of potential climate adaptations in the agricultural sector remains a topic of much debate, it is clear that extreme climatic events will pose serious supply disruptions". In Ireland, for example, the price of a beer bottle would double under extreme climate change.

The study was supported by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the British Academy and Philip Leverhulme Prize.