Oct. 16 (UPI) -- Beer prices could double as a result of global warming, according to a new study.
Climate change is expected to trigger more frequent heatwaves and prolonged droughts in many parts of the world. Hotter, drier climate patterns are likely to depress barley yields, disrupting the global beer supply.
According to the new research by climate scientists and economists, a shrinking barley supply could put downward pressure on beer consumption and cause beer prices to rise.
Researchers used agricultural and supply chain models to estimate how changes in barley yields would affect the barley supply available to beer makers. Their analysis showed decreases in global barley supplies would result in a proportionally larger reduction in the amount of barley available to the beer industry.
Simulations showed extreme climate events could reduce global beer consumption by 16 percent and cause average beer prices to double.
As the effects of climate change progress, researchers estimate mitigation efforts will prioritize global food supplies, which means supply variability will have a great impact on luxury commodities, like wine, coffee and beer.
"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," Dabo Guan, a professor of climate change economics at the University of East Anglia, said in a news release.
Guan and his colleagues published their analysis of the global beer supply chain and its vulnerability to climate change this week in the journal Nature Plants.
Because price changes are at least partially dictated by consumers' willingness and ability to pay more for a scarcer commodity, climate-caused price increases would be greatest in affluent, beer-loving countries like Belgium, the Czech Republic and Germany.
"It may be argued that consuming less beer isn't itself disastrous, and may even have health benefits. 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," Guan said.