why your beer is safe from global warming. for now…

The beer industry has a plan to keep their product affordable in spite of climate change. But they’re not the only ones having to come up with climate mitigation plans to stay in business.

beer bottles

Beer drinkers of the world were worried for a few days. According to experts, global warming will make it harder to grow barley, a key ingredient in beer, meaning that prices for the final product are going to start creeping higher if we do nothing to help our climate regain its equilibrium. But industry trade groups say they have a solution. Perhaps inspired by Patrick Star, they’ll just take their barley and grow it somewhere else, specifically in Canada, where a colder climate will be far more hospitable and provide steady harvests. Wine and spirit makers are also beginning to creep north as once comfortable latitudes with ideal growing conditions are becoming drier and hotter, impacting the quality and size of their harvests.

So the good news is that we won’t run out of alcohol as the planet warms. The bad news is that we’ll have to keep mitigating the creeping effects of warming so just moving your operations is not a long term solution. Even if the Hothouse Earth scenario comes to pass, there will still be cool, comfortable climates in which to grow our crops and raise our livestock. But that also means agricultural jobs moving from their traditional bases or being handed off to robots, and new free trade zones to keep prices for foodstuffs down. And considering how upset rural communities are about losing jobs to robots and revenue to foreign imports, imagine their fury when their farms become financially unsustainable due to climate change.

And there will be even bigger blows to our food supply. Algal blooms in warming waters could render a lot of seafood too toxic to safely consume, with significant impacts on countries that rely on fishing for their main proteins. Again, there are ways to work around this, but it will require constant monitoring and steady cash outlays. We’ll have to create and move fish farms just because we won’t stop belching carbon into the atmosphere and instead of investing the necessary money into scalability, future projects, or job creation, we’ll have to do the fiscal equivalent of constantly taking a car we crashed and are having more and more problems diving to the shop to repair one part at a time.

At this point in our civilization, pollution isn’t just a cost of doing business, it’s a drag on growth and profit margins. Global warming and pollution cost more than $5 trillion in economic productivity in China and India, storms fueled by warming oceans are costing us hundreds of billion of dollars. Consider that a million years from now, the geological record of the end of the industrial age will consist of our garbage and radioactive fallout from nuclear weapon tests, almost like nature’s flashing, neon “get a load of these bastards” sign to future civilizations.

We’re still many decades away from being able to simply move to another world, so why are we so busy treating ours like a landfill, then using a big chunk the money we saved by polluting to deal with the consequences? At some point, the costs of mitigation will far outweigh the extra profits of myopic pollution. And that point is coming faster and faster, even if you live in a developed, post-industrial economy with the capital to absorb the immediate pains of climate change.

# science // climate change / global warming / pollution

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