Climate change is coming for our beer. Rising global temperatures and widespread drought could cause yields of barley, a primary ingredient in beer, to decrease as much as 17 percent by the end of the century, according to a study published Monday in Nature Plants.
Decreases in the global supply of barley could ultimately cause "dramatic" regional decreases in beer consumption (-32 percent in Argentina, for instance) and corresponding increases in beer prices (+193 percent in Ireland, for instance), the study says.
For the U.S., the researchers predicted a beer supply loss of up to 20 percent in a worst-case scenario, as The New York Times reported from the study.
Previous studies have focused on the potential impact of climate change on staple crops such as wheat, maize, soybean and rice, as well as coffee and chocolate. However, "the vulnerability of beer supply to such extremes has never been assessed," the University of East Anglia, one of the participants in the research, said in a press release.
Barley is sensitive to drought and heat. The researchers calculated that in the most extreme climate scenarios, global beer consumption would decline by 16 percent, or 29 billion liters (about the total annual beer consumption in the U.S.) and beer prices would on average double. In less severe climate events, beer consumption will drop by 4 percent and prices will rise by 15 percent.
It may seem frivolous to focus a climate study on beer, but the foamy beverage is the most popular alcoholic drink in the world by volume consumed. Also, wouldn't you want a cold one if the end times are nigh?
"While the effects on beer may seem modest in comparison to many of the other—some life-threatening—impacts of climate change, there is nonetheless something fundamental in the cross-cultural appreciation of beer," co-author Dabo Guan of Tsinghua University in Beijing and the University of East Anglia said in the press release.
"It may be argued that consuming less beer isn't itself disastrous, and may even have health benefits," Guan added. "Nevertheless, 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."
AlterNet previously reported that brewers are already finding it more difficult to secure stable water supplies. Additionally, specialty hops used by craft brewers have already become harder to source, since warming winters are producing earlier and smaller yields, the report said.
What's more, the accounting firm predicts that another 21 million electric cars will be on the road globally over the next decade due to growing market demand for clean transportation, government subsidies, as well as bans on fossil fuel cars.
Sunoco's controversial Mariner East pipeline project in Pennsylvania is beginning 2019 on unstable ground, literally. A sinkhole opened in the suburban development of Lisa Drive in Chester County Sunday, exposing the old Mariner East 1 pipeline built in the 1930s.
Greenland is melting about four times faster than it was in 2003, a new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found, a discovery with frightening implications for the pace and extent of future sea level rise.
"We're going to see faster and faster sea level rise for the foreseeable future," study lead author and Ohio State University geodynamics professor Dr. Michael Bevis said in a press release. "Once you hit that tipping point, the only question is: How severe does it get?"
By Marlene Cimons
Most Europeans know the great tit as an adorable, likeable yellow-and-black songbird that shows up to their feeders in the winter. But there may be one thing they don't know. That cute, fluffy bird can be a relentless killer.
The great tit's aggression can emerge in gruesome ways when it feels threatened by the pied flycatcher, a bird that spends most of the year in Africa, but migrates to Europe in the spring to breed. When flycatchers arrive at their European breeding grounds, they head for great tit territory, knowing that great tits—being year-round European residents—know the best nesting sites.
Most people have heard of the Amazon, South America's famed rainforest and hub of biological diversity. Less well known, though no less critical, is the Pantanal, the world's largest tropical wetland.
Like the Amazon, the Pantanal is ecologically important and imperiled. Located primarily in Brazil, it also stretches into neighboring Bolivia and Paraguay. Covering an area larger than England at more than 70,000 square miles, the massive wetland provides irreplaceable ecosystem services that include the regulation of floodwaters, nutrient renewal, river flow for navigability, groundwater recharge and carbon sequestration. The wetland also supports the economies of the four South American states it covers.
By Patrick Rogers
If you have ever considered making the switch to an environmentally friendly electric vehicle, don't drag your feet. Though EV prices are falling, and states are unveiling more and more public charging stations and plug-in-ready parking spots, the federal government is doing everything it can to slam the brakes on our progress away from gas-burning internal combustion engines. President Trump, likely pressured by his allies in the fossil fuel industry, has threatened to end the federal tax credits that have already helped put hundreds of thousands of EVs on the road—a move bound to harm not only our environment but our economy, too. After all, the manufacturing and sale of EVs, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids supported 197,000 jobs in 2017, according to the most recent U.S. Energy and Employment Report.
This week, people across the country are joining environmental leaders to speak out against the nomination of former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to lead the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As Scott Pruitt's hand-picked successor, Wheeler has continued to put polluters over people, most recently by using the last of his agency's funding before it expired in the government shutdown to announce plans to allow power plants to spew toxic mercury and other hazardous pollution into the air.