Climate change is going to make your beer more expensive and harder to find

A man holds a glass of beer.
(Image credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

If you planned on drowning your sorrows over climate change in a bottle of beer, it's time to pick a new beverage.

In a new report published Monday in the journal Nature Plants, scientists say that in the future, more extreme heat waves and droughts caused by climate change will stifle barley production. Barley is the key ingredient in beer, and in the U.S., Brazil, and China, at least two-thirds of the barley crop goes into beer production. Researchers estimate that the yield could drop by as much as 17 percent, making beer not only harder to find, but also more expensive.

Even adjusting for inflation, beer prices on average would double, the researchers said, and in Ireland, where beer is already more expensive, prices would triple. Barley is one of the most heat-sensitive crops in the world, and researchers only looked at how heat waves and drought would hit barley, not even considering an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

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Last week, a U.N. panel released an alarming report about how climate change is going to have a catastrophic impact in just a few decades if major action isn't taken globally, and Department of Agriculture scientist Lewis Ziska told The Associated Press it's studies like the one about beer that really get through to people. "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," he said.

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