Climate Change Poses Threat to Key Ingredient in Beer, NOAA Warns
The U.S. is the second largest hops-producing country in the world. But almost all of the nation's commercial hopyards are located in just three states: Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Washington alone produces nearly three-quarters of all the nation's hops. In 2015, an estimated 71 percent of U.S. hops were grown in Washington, 15 percent in Oregon and 11 percent in Idaho, according to data from Hop Growers of America.
Growers in states across the U.S. are increasingly planting commercial hopyards to meet the craft beer industry's voracious demand. But all of the other 47 states' hops acreage make up less than 3 percent of total hops acreage in the U.S.
The concentration of hops production goes even further because within the state of Washington, the Yakima Valley is the primary hops-growing area.
The Yakima Valley lies in the rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains with an average annual rainfall of 7 to 10 inches. Its summers are hot and dry, making the region dependent on winter snowpack for its water supply. Hops production has flourished in Yakima Valley, in part, because of its favorable climate, but according to NOAA, the extreme heat the region experienced last year impacted yields.
2015 shattered global temperature records, and Washington, in particular, experienced record hot and dry conditions. In May, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared a drought emergency after state officials recorded the lowest snowpack ever for the state. Washington also had a brutal wildfire season in 2015 with the massive Okanogan Complex surpassing last year’s record-setting Carlton Complex to become the largest fire in the state’s history.
The 2015 National Hop Report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that growers suffered crop loss in some varieties, such as Willamette and Centennial, which don't hold up well in extreme heat.
“Early season aroma varieties, particularly European noble types, were most impacted by the extreme heat during the latter half of June, as bloom was underway,” Ann George, executive director of the Washington Hop Commission, told NOAA. Still, despite the record drought and heat, Washington produced a record number of hops—59.4 million pounds, according to NOAA.
But many worry how the industry will fare in the future. Most growers were able to adapt to last year's water shortages by relying more heavily on groundwater supplies and other sources, George said. So, Yakima Valley hops growers were able to "beat the 2015 summer heat," NOAA said, but they may not be as lucky in the future.
The hops industry is struggling to keep up with demand as it is (There were major shortages of popular hops varieties in and
Climate models project last year's unusual warmth will be the “new normal” in the decades to come, Guillaume Mauger, a research scientist with the University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group, told NOAA. And while total precipitation isn't expected to change much, more and more winter precipitation will fall as rain rather than snow, decreasing snowpack and threatening the area's water supply.
Oregon and Idaho are in a similar situation. Both states experienced record low snowpack, drought conditions and extreme heat. And other hops-producing regions are taking a hit too. Germany, which produces more hops than anywhere in the world, saw a 26 percent decrease in hops production last year due to drought, according to NOAA. This undoubtedly has those in the industry worried because the U.S. and Germany each contribute about one-third of global hops production.
Water scarcity is also a significant problem for the beer industry as water makes up 90 to 95 percent of all beer—yes, even craft beer. California brewers told NPR that the state's drought has forced them to rely more and more on groundwater due to restricted river water supplies. And mineral-heavy groundwater supplies can produce unpleasant tastes in beers, the brewers lamented. One brewer described it as "like brewing with Alka-Seltzer.”
It was already bad enough that climate change will diminish worldwide supplies of chocolate, wine and coffee. Now, beer too.
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1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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