Wednesday, April 9, 2008

If it raises the price of beer, it must be a problem

A recent article in Food Week Online brought perhaps the most daunting as of late: climate change could create a "beer crisis." According to an expert (Dr. Jim Salinger at the New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research), climate change could adversely impact barley crops in New Zealand and Australia, thereby reducing the supply of malting barley used for beer production.

And it's not only the malting barley. Climate change is projected to cause more frequent droughts, resulting in water shortages. No water + no malting barley = NO BEER!

Okay, maybe it's not that daunting - beer will probably still be in production, though at a higher price. Water shortages mean less available water for municipal, industrial, and power generation use, potentially driving up the price of electricity. And economics tells us lower supply of barley will drive up the price. So beer may cost you more.

My larger question here is this: Will we start to realize the broad impacts of climate change? Or will we just complain about higher prices, yet continue to consume beer (or gasoline, or electricity, or water, or... )?

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