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Climate Change Finally Impacts Important Industry 405

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the mmmmmmm-beer dept.
Socguy writes "According to a New Zealand scientist, Jim Salinger, the price of beer in and around Australia is going to be under increasing upward pressure as reductions in malting barley yields are experienced as a side effect of our ongoing climate shift. "It will mean either there will be pubs without beer or the cost of beer will go up," Mr. Salinger told the Institute of Brewing and Distilling convention."
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Climate Change Finally Impacts Important Industry

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  • home brewers (Score:5, Informative)

    by Missing_dc (1074809) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:42AM (#23012062)
    Those of us who home brew have already seen the hit on both barley and hops.
    • by Missing_dc (1074809) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:46AM (#23012108)
      and I believe Gordon Parsons summed it up with a song.....
        (though I'm not terribly sure it was origionally his)

      Pub with no Beer

      It's lonesome away from your kindred and all
      By the campfire at night where the wild dingos call
      But there's nothin' so lonesome, so dull or so drear
      Than to stand in the bar of a pub with no beer

      Now the publican's anxious for the quota to come
      There's a faraway look on the face of the bum
      The maid's gone all cranky and the cook's acting queer
      What a terrible place is a pub with no beer

      The stockman rides up with his dry, dusty throat
      He breasts up to the bar, pulls a wad from his coat
      But the smile on his face quickly turns to a sneer
      When the barman says suddenly: "The pub's got no beer!"

      There's a dog on the verandah, for his master he waits
      But the boss is inside drinking wine with his mates
      He hurries for cover and he cringes in fear
      It's no place for a dog round a pub with no beer

      Then in comes the swagman, all covered with flies
      He throws down his roll, wipes the sweat from his eyes
      But when he is told he says, "What's this I hear?
      I've trudged fifty flamin' miles to a pub with no beer!"

      Old Billy, the blacksmith, the first time in his life
      Has gone home cold sober to his darling wife
      He walks in the kitchen; she says: "You're early, me dear"
      Then he breaks down and he tells her that the pub's got no beer

      It's lonesome away from your kindred and all
      By the campfire at night where the wild dingos call
      But there's nothin' so lonesome, so dull or so drear
      Than to stand in the bar of a pub with no beer
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CRCulver (715279)

      Maybe this will give some further popularity to corn-based beers, which to many beer afficionados are not even beer at all. Meanwhile, here in Finland people still make a disgusting brewed drink from juniper berries.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Psx29 (538840)
        Unfortunately the price of corn is skyrocketing already because of bio-diesel
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by wattrlz (1162603)

          Unfortunately the price of corn is skyrocketing already because of bio-ethanol
          There, fixed it for you. Bio-diesel is made from shortening.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Sigismundo (192183)

      Indeed, the hop shortage is really bad. The place where I get homebrew supplies won't sell the hops by themselves, only as part of a complete recipe, to prevent people from hoarding.

      If the barley problem gets worse, I can only imagine that it could get harder for homebrew shops to stay in business, which would be a shame.

      • Re:home brewers (Score:4, Interesting)

        by baldass_newbie (136609) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @11:05AM (#23013084) Homepage Journal
        Grow your own hops. It's not that tough and is easily grown in most places.

        Besides, prices don't seem that high. A little high, sure, but not overwhelming:
        http://www.northernbrewer.com/hop-pellets.html [northernbrewer.com]
    • Re:home brewers (Score:4, Insightful)

      by SnarfQuest (469614) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @10:43AM (#23012812)
      The reason for these price increases are because the farmers have all switched to growing corn, one of the least efficient crops used to produce ethanol. For every gallon making it to the customer, you need to create and burn an additional five gallons to run all the manufacturing equipment. There are much more efficient crops that could be used, corn being one of the absolute worst, but the wackos have decided to put everything into that one.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mini me (132455)

        There are much more efficient crops that could be used, corn being one of the absolute worst, but the wackos have decided to put everything into that one.

        You seem to be ignoring what happens down on the farm. Corn is ideal because we already had the infrastructure in place to integrate corn-based ethanol plants into the supply chain with virtually no cost (money or energy).

        Turning another crop, such as switchgrass, into a commodity is not an easy process and would waste a lot of energy in the process. Perha

        • Re:home brewers (Score:5, Informative)

          by jc42 (318812) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @01:55PM (#23015158) Homepage Journal
          Corn is ideal because we already had the infrastructure in place to integrate corn-based ethanol plants into the supply chain with virtually no cost (money or energy).

          That depends on where you live. It may be true in the US's Midwest or other farming areas with well-established grain crops. In other parts of the world, there are already commercial crops of Jatropha curcas, a dryland shrub whose seeds contain oil that can be burned directly by diesel engines without refining. There's also a tropical tree, Copaifera langsdorffii, which is tapped much like sugar maples, and whose sap also qualifies as diesel fuel. Google finds lots of info on both of them.

          These two plants have only recently been domesticated, so there's a lot of research and breeding going on in the areas where they grow. J. curcas has potential to be a major crop the American southwest and southern Europe, as it's cold tolerant and needs only around 250 mm of rain per year to keep it happy. But the cultivation is rather different from corn, so you wouldn't expect corn farmers to immediately succeed with it, and it may not be a competitive crop for areas with more rainfall. C. langsdorffii isn't feasible outside the tropics, and is a medium-sized tree, so it has only been used for small-scale local fuel production so far, and will probably take some time to become a practical crop plant.

          Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) has gotten some attention in the US, where it's a native plant with a lot of potential. Even President Bush has heard of it. But its cultivation, harvesting, and processing into fuel would be something new for corn farmers. Sugar cane growers would probably be better prospects, as the process would be familiar to them -- except for the final fermentation stage, which you'd want to hand over to the rum producers ;-). A problem here is that sugar cane (and rum) is a (sub)tropical crop, while switchgrass is better suited to temperate zones, so we'll either need to educate some farmers (and brewers), or persuade the sugar-cage people to move to places where it gets cold.

          There are a number of other plants undergoing serious research for fuel production. Of course, each species will require educating farmers and development of infrastructure for its use. That's part of why so many people have been suggesting that we should be doing the R&D now, rather than wait until our fuel-supply problems grow even more serious.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by raddan (519638)
        There's also the recent Puccinia graminis [newscientist.com] "wheat blight" currently happening across Asia. Puccinia graminis affects both wheat and barley (and some other crops). Combine that with a weak U.S. dollar, which means we are exporting more, and the fact that U.S. growers have been switching to the more-profitable corn growing, and you can see why grain prices have gone up, at least in the U.S.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You're silly. The dramatic hop shortage has nothing to do with climate change. It had to do with a global glut of hops that induced a whole pile of acreage to switch from hops to crops that weren't dirt cheap, followed by the major hop warehouse fire in Washington and some other smaller stock supply disasters.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by CraftyJack (1031736)
      I thought the hop shortage was more of an economic thing than an environmental thing. The way I read/heard it, stored pellets and hop extract from previous boom years have finally run out, so the industrial brewers are buying up everything in sight. The stored stuff had been keeping demand artificially low, so the growers can't cope now. At any rate, you can't get Cascade for love or money.
  • by UbuntuDupe (970646) * on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:45AM (#23012092) Journal
    I'm sorry, it seems pretty ridiculous to me to attack climate change by trying to go after *each* and *every* little thing someone deems inefficient given the benefit and environmental cost. You'll never be able to enumerate everything that's inefficient, because a) there are so many activities, and b) it depends on quantity that exists solely in other people's minds.

    We're going after barley today, and tomorrow it will be celery or lack of solar panels on buildings or computer that go to sleep too slowly etc etc etc.

    A much more rational and simple approach would be: Tax all fossil fuels at the current cost of sinking the resulting carbon out of the air. (Actually, you just want to sink the fraction of existing output that needs to be removed in order to stabilize concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere but if I put that in the definition it would be too hard to untangle.)

    Apply the funds to sinking CO2.

    Then, all product use is carbon neutral. For all people, adjusting to climate change is simply a matter of buying whatever you want, so long as its cost is justified by its current price (which has been changed to account for the tax.) Given the new prices, all entrepreneurial activity redirects to account for higher fossil fuel costs and raises resources spent on minimizing this input.

    This method is necessarily the least painful approach because and change in activities necessarily comes from those activities that have least benefit, as people currently judge them, and work up from there.

    Furthermore, as the price of sinking goes down, the tax can go down.

    Furthermore, this is robust against non-compliant countries, as their goods can be tarriffed to pay for whatever sinking they won't pay for. Or, if necessary, other countries can sink CO2 using general tax revenues.

    Oops, I forgot, people would still be able to drive SUVs under this, so scratch it.
    • by MrNaz (730548) * on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @10:21AM (#23012552) Homepage

      We're going after barley today, and tomorrow it will be celery or lack of solar panels on buildings or computer that go to sleep too slowly etc etc etc.

      They're not trying to regulate every little thing, they're trying to say "don't do anything that harms the environment". After all, it's illegal to take out your johnson and pee on a public park bench, polluting the environment is the same, only its effects aren't as immediately recognisable as the wet patch on the seat of some unsuspecting parkgoer's pants.

      Tax all fossil fuels at the current cost of sinking the resulting carbon out of the air.

      Aside from the enormous harm that taxations place upon the economy (taxation leads to what is known as a deadweight loss, which must be offset against the benefits of whatever is being taxed), carbon sinking is not even possible given the engineering capacity we as humans have. Furthermore, even if it *were* possible, there is no way to know what damage the CO2 does in the meantime while it is being sinked.

      Oops, I forgot, people would still be able to drive SUVs under this, so scratch it.

      You really have no understanding of the problem, do you? The complete commodification of the rights to pollute simply mean that companies will simply find a way to price in the dollar value of pollution credits to get away with whatever they are doing now. Pollution and environmental issues are *the* classic economic textbook example of market failure. It takes a real fundamentalist (or a complete idiot) to attempt to solve market failure by the application of more market instruments.

      • by sumdumass (711423)
        Well said, I would also like to add a factor that most people don't consider when they look at carbon caps, credits, and other schemes is that all GHG pollution savings to date have largely been offset by population growth or just shifted to other areas like China.

        This is important when you look at the situation as a whole because it shows just how much of a loss carbon caps and credits are. I could go on about how I think they are little more then a scam but that isn't as important as the practical limitat
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by electrictroy (912290)
          Well I have a modest proposal:

          - Reduce the human population by 90% (preferably using a humane manner; like fewer babies). Instead of 6 billion, you'll have 600 million. There will be plenty of resources for everyone to go around, and pollution will be decreased by 90% of current levels.

          - or -

          - Wait for mother nature to do it for us (disease or starvation).

          The overpopulation of human animals, and their gradual destruction of the environment, will be fixed one way or the other. If we don't do it, some othe
          • by Sciros (986030) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @11:30AM (#23013432) Journal
            Your idea will totally work because humans don't actually have any desire to procreate!

            This might be a difficult concept to grasp, but there is no objective "good environment" as far as the planet is concerned. There is only the question of how good the environment is for whatever particular life to thrive. Even if your "modest proposal" wasn't HIT-MY-HEAD-AGAINST-THE-WALL-TO-RESTART-MY-BRAIN-CRAZY, to say that in order to achieve a "good environment" we would have to lose 90% of the human population, means it's NOT a good environment for humanity.

            Seriously, that line of reasoning will kill braincells of rational people trying to follow it. It's the same thing as saying that because the current global ecosystem is unable to sustain the current population of white rhinos, what we should do is "humanely" drop their population to 10% of today's so that they can each have plenty of resources.
      • by Qzukk (229616)

        The complete commodification of the rights to pollute simply mean that companies will simply find a way to price in the dollar value of pollution credits to get away with whatever they are doing now. ... It takes a real fundamentalist (or a complete idiot) to attempt to solve market failure by the application of more market instruments.

        When I go to the supermarket and look for plastic baggies to put lunches in, am I going to buy the ones that cost $150 because the company making them decided that retooling its factories wasn't necessary when they could just make us pay for their pollution, or the $2.50 baggies made by a factory that did?

        That's the theory, anyway. Supposedly this would work for anything from companies whining about the government banning them from poisoning more than X/1000000 people to companies burning tires in their f

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Aside from the enormous harm that taxations place upon the economy (taxation leads to what is known as a deadweight loss, which must be offset against the benefits of whatever is being taxed), carbon sinking is not even possible given the engineering capacity we as humans have. Furthermore, even if it *were* possible, there is no way to know what damage the CO2 does in the meantime while it is being sinked.

        First the tax issue. All this policy would require would be that the REAL cost of fossil fuels be pai

      • by Rei (128717) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:09PM (#23013920) Homepage
        Pollution and environmental issues are *the* classic economic textbook example of market failure.

        I believe the word you're looking for is "externalities". Pollution and environmental issues are external to the market, so the market doesn't account for them. You need to internalize externalities with taxes based on them -- you need to assign them a realistic cost compared to what damage they do to society, and the market will readjust with that taken into account.

        I'm a Keynesian; I don't believe in the authoritarian-socialist view of telling businesses, "You will do this," or, on the economic-libertarian view, doing absolutely nothing. I believe in the government simply adjusting the prices of elements of the market with taxes when needed to make externalities that have serious costs but are normally ignored now have costs that are factored into the market, and letting the market make its own choices now that it's facing true costs. And with the taxes collected as such, you can reduce general taxation on corporations and inviduals and/or ameliorate the damage caused.

        In such a situation, I think that, for example, coal power would largely become uneconomical, while techs like wind, solar, and deep geothermal (EGS or whatnot) would become much more popular. But if coal power plant operators can still be profitable when compensating for the greenhouse gasses, heavy metals, and particulate matter they emit (prices based on the consequences of those actions, such as increased healthcare costs), and while paying more for coal that's compensating for the water pollution and so forth (also with prices based on the consequences of those actions), then by all means, continue.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Sinical (14215)

        They're not trying to regulate every little thing, they're trying to say "don't do anything that harms the environment".

        And how do they do that? REGULATION.

        Aside from the enormous harm that taxations place upon the economy (taxation leads to what is known as a deadweight loss, which must be offset against the benefits of whatever is being taxed), carbon sinking is not even possible given the engineering capacity we as humans have. Furthermore, even if it *were* possible, there is no way to know what damage

  • Think of the children!
    • More like:

      Think of the underage drinking teenagers!

      Or will this force us to re-consider legalizing "weed"? Since with no beer, they'll just move up the chain, anyway.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by xaxa (988988)
        They drink beer? My friends didn't drink beer that often, not until we were about 17. Before then it was cider (cheap and strong) or spirits (usually vodka, or premixed vodka cocktails).

        I never did weed, probably half my friends did.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Up the chain? Weed is down the chain. Alcohol is more harmful than weed.
    • by Detritus (11846)
      They go nicely with cold pitcher of lager. I want my baby back ribs!
    • Ban the children drinking the been and there should still be enough (beer) to go around.
  • Going on two years (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:47AM (#23012112)
    The barley yields have been underperforming since 2006, so this is cumulatively a big problem for the beer industry and its customers.

    However, there are many other crops from which alcohol can be derived. A sudden price increase in beer will send drinkers to the arms of other libations. This should, in principle, keep the price of beer from fluctuating too wildly. In another couple years when barley yields are back at their maximums, this will all have been a bad memory.
    • by NorbrookC (674063) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:58AM (#23012272) Journal

      However, there are many other crops from which alcohol can be derived.

      Which have also jumped markedly in price. Corn, wheat, and rice are all running at record or near-record highs in their prices. So your other libations will also jump in price.

    • by PoliTech (998983) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @10:07AM (#23012380) Homepage Journal
      Considering that 20 percent of the U.S. corn crop was converted into 5 billion gallons of ethanol in 2006, (and that amount replaced only 1 percent of U.S. oil consumption). The prices of food products containing barley and wheat are also on the rise because farmers are switching to growing subsidized corn crops instead of other less profitable grain crops [sfgate.com]. Dwindling barley feedstock supplies also currently coincide with a pretty large reduction in other crops used as livestock feed, prices of which are also climbing. Thus another unintended consequence [stltoday.com] is the increase in the price of meat and dairy products consumers are currently experiencing as well. We haven't even started to talk about how diesel fuel prices are simultaneously causing food, feedstock, and crop prices to skyrocket.
      • by Thundersnatch (671481) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @11:04AM (#23013056) Journal

        Considering that 20 percent of the U.S. corn crop was converted into 5 billion gallons of ethanol in 2006, (and that amount replaced only 1 percent of U.S. oil consumption).

        Source? Almost all gasoline is actaully 10% ethanol these days. Since gasoline accounts for 60% of oil consumption [doe.gov], wouldn't it stand to reason that ethanol replaces about 6% of our oil consumption at this point?

        Finally, after processing corn for Ethanol, a great deal of high-protien livestock feed remains. The sugars from the corn get converted to ethanol, and the "everything else" is still used as livestock feed.

        It's really a lot more complicated than you make it sound. Corn-based Ethanol will not solve our transportation energy needs, but it isn't all bad.

    • by farmerj (566229) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:10PM (#23013938)
      I don't think it's quite as simple as that. At the moment there are two major markets for barley:
      • Animal Feed
      • Malting
      A minority of the barley grown goes for malting, with the remaining majority going for animal feed.
      Malting barley has stricter requirements that that used for feed, there are max protein levels and germination percentage used along with the normal grain quality indexes (hectolitre weight, screening % etc.)

      The interesting thing as regards to beer (larger, ale and stout) is that the price of the malting barley has very little impact on the price paid for a pint.
      I don't have a quick reference but in Ireland the cost of malting barley works out at around 1-2 cent per pint, out of an average price of around €4.00 or so (pub price).

      The problem is that barley as animal feed is easily subsisted for by other feeds such as wheat, soya, maize etc. This means that the price of barley moves in relation to the prices of these other grains. It is also important to note these these grains along with rice are the base constituents of most alcohol produced.

      As regard to New Zealand, one of its biggest exports are milk products. As NZ sells on the world market the recent increase in milk and milk product prices is pushing up demand for animal feeds such as barley. This is because one of the ways of getting higher output from dairy cows in increasing the levels of concentrates (such as barley wheat etc.) feed.

      So even with higher yields the price of barley may or may not decrease the price of barley depending on the market prices of the other grains.

  • Unlike fuel (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WormholeFiend (674934) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:51AM (#23012144)
    People will not pay whatever the beer industry charges.

    I remember reading a Newfoundland drug enforcement police officer's comment once to the effect that beer and spirits stores profits were up whenever the police managed to put a big dent in the illegal drug market.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by mweather (1089505)
      The police have never made a dent in the illegal drug market.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by maxume (22995)
        They make local market dents all the time. The cumulative effect is pretty much nil, but I'm sure that they impact prices and availability in a given city or region fairly often.
    • Self-contradicting (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *
      People will not pay whatever the beer industry charges.

      I remember reading a Newfoundland drug enforcement police officer's comment once to the effect that beer and spirits stores profits were up whenever the police managed to put a big dent in the illegal drug market.


      If people are using beer (i.e. ethanol) to get a drug high, they're going to pay whatever the price is. You don't see too many addicts quitting due to cost.

      That's not to say they're going to buy Sam Adams over Beast, but they'll still buy.
  • by alexborges (313924) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:51AM (#23012150)
    I told you the world wasnt going to end, i told you it would be MUCH worse.

    Here we face a HOT future with NO BEER!

    I vote for the government to start giving away suicide packs (but not legalize mariguana).
  • by Shivetya (243324) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:52AM (#23012156) Homepage Journal
    so lets latch on to something generic... even though it occurs all the time we seem to think its only bad now.

    Its always worse for those of the current generation, we conveniently forget the previous ones. I have some grandparents who can tell you about the real hell they faced in Kansas during those drought days way back when, makes the pansy crap we complain about today just that.

    I guess with all the stories about the earth having not warmed recently, taken a year or two dive, that the lead off words must change to fuel this engine of profit for certain groups and businesses. How much barley production is lost to other more cash ready crops? With the current increases in the value of corn and wheat because of the misguided ethanol production in the US would it not make sense that other areas shift to fill the gap?

    Putting climate change in the same story as beer either points out the hypocrisy of it all or just shows how silly we are willing to become
    • How much barley production is lost to other more cash ready crops?

      DING-DING-DING! We have a winner!

      It's not climate change that is causing the problem. It is what we are doing to combat climate change that is the problem. When corn prices go up for ethanol, more farmers switch from whatever they were growing to corn, because it makes more money. This means less of everything else and causes the price of everything else to go up as well!

      It's simple supply and demand. Economics 101!

      • Yes, but see the *reason* that it's due to climate change we started requiring ethanol in our gasoline and so the price of corn went up which forced the farmers to change crops.

        Just like the game where you make almost any food sound nutritional, you can make anything caused by global climate change!

        It's that sort of circular logic that makes the world go round! :D

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Missing_dc (1074809)
        Regardless, it is still affecting my beer making.

        Two years ago, it cost about $12 to make a 5-gallon batch of beer, now it costs between $20 and $30.

          (I know, I'm bitching about paying 4-6 dollars for the equivelant of a 12-pack of beer.)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Yeah yeah global warming is all a scam to profit American ethanol companies. The decades of global scientific reasearch is all a means to their ends. Oh wait, the rest of the World aren't lackeys of corporate America and is in fact costing the countries who are actually doing something about it hundreds of millions, making the whole corporate/government conspiracy angle truly ridiculous. As far as stories about "the earth having not warmed recently", what the fuck are you talking about? Do you think a cold
    • How does this stuff get Insightful on Slashdot?

      so lets latch on to something generic... even though it occurs all the time we seem to think its only bad now.

      So by that logic because we used to have hot spells, we shouldn't consider an increased number of hot spells as different in any way. What nonsense.

      I guess with all the stories about the earth having not warmed recently...

      The stories that do the circles of the right-wing blogs? Because they're credible evidence. Take a look at the current graph of global average temperatures [wikipedia.org] and look at the five year avererage and tell me that the planet is cooling. 1998 was a peak year due to El-Nino, and this year is predicted by those same gosh-

  • Still a skeptic. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Yeah it has nothing to do with.. oh.. climate change HYPE causing a shift of crops from barley to corn to make Ethanol..

    There's nothing in the article about reduced yields... just shortages of barley and aluminum and sugar and sugar (sic).

    Ms. Read said that in addition to climate change, barley growers are grappling with competition from other forms or land use, such as the dairy industry.

    And don't forget these fine proofs of global warming... (ooh sorry, Climate Change)
    "The price of beer is likel
    • by blueg3 (192743)
      I'm sure you don't want to be educated, but it's called "climate change" because otherwise warming of tenths of degrees doesn't seem particularly problematic to anyone but a scientist. The problem, of course, isn't directly higher temperatures, but the climatological effects caused by them.
    • by CmdrGravy (645153)
      I think the article was about Australian producers so when you say it mentions nothing about reduced yields perhaps you should instead try and find out what the current state of Australian agriculture is.

      I suspect, because obviously I haven't bothered checking myself, that crop yields might be close to catastrophically low at the moment due to a never ending drought/severe flooding.
  • Hmmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by AndGodSed (968378) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:52AM (#23012178) Homepage Journal
    Now there's an inconvenient truth for you...
  • More GW BS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BigDumbAnimal (532071) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:53AM (#23012192)
    The Warmlist [numberwatch.co.uk] has already been updated with this new information.

    The article is very light on details, but it is just today's 'Everybody panic' story about global warming (climate change, or whatever). He is full of it. He says it 'may' cause a drop in barley production in au in the next 30 years. Oh crap. As if droughts and floods never happened before the ICE.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tomdcc (1270280)
      It is light on details. this one [nzherald.co.nz] is better:

      But over the last five years, Australia has experienced three droughts. In 2006, in what was dubbed the 100-year drought, barley production fell 70 per cent. Last year, drought caused a 40 per cent fall.

      So drought leads to decreased barley yields. We've had more drought in Australia in recent years than in any previously recorded time. And it just happens to correlate with the highest global temperatures ever recorded. But you're right, it's probably just BS. Why don't you come down under and enjoy our water restrictions?

  • by JRHelgeson (576325) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:54AM (#23012208) Homepage Journal
    The reductions in Malted Barley yields are a direct result of more farmers growing corn in place of barley in order to produce ethanol. The price of corn has gone up because demand has gone up, so therefore more farmers are producing/planting/harvesting corn.

    Just once, why can't one of our poorly considered quick fixes work?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tcopeland (32225)
      Yup, and for some more numbers and some good commentary on this, check out this post from EU Referendum: 'A world gone mad [blogspot.com]'.
    • by garcia (6573) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @10:13AM (#23012446) Homepage
      Yup [startribune.com] and it's really hurting everyone from large pizza chains [news-press.com] right down to the local Asian restaurant my wife and I frequent at least three times a month.

      Flour prices have skyrocketed due to the corn (as you have mentioned) and the fact that farmers are then locked into subsidy land because farmers who grow other crops on corn acreage lose their subsidy for the current year and are fined the market value of the crop they chose to grow instead but are also threatened that they may be permanently ineligible to receive future subsidies (link [nytimes.com]).

      So while we are getting more "inexpensive" gas and we are lessening our dependencies on foreign oil, we are creating an uncomfortable situation in our food stores and prices. I'd rather we deal with more mass transit and alternative fuel sources that don't fuck with our domestic food supplies.
      • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @10:55AM (#23012956) Homepage
        Yup [startribune.com] and it's really hurting everyone from large pizza chains [news-press.com] right down to the local Asian restaurant my wife and I frequent at least three times a month.

        Just thank god you don't live in, say, Haiti or Egypt, where there've been food riots due to skyrocketing prices (like, 40% increases since January type skyrocketing).

        The use of food as a fuel source is, without a doubt, the most idiotic, selfish, short-sighted thing the developed world has ever dreamed up...
    • It's because of climate change that we need more corn to make ethanol. Now we're faced with rising beer prices.

      How can people continue to deny that climate change is real?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Except that using corn for making ethanol actually ends up putting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over the next century than simply continuing to burn fossil fuels. Last week's Time magazine had a long, well-written article about this topic.
    • by xaxa (988988)
      Greenpeace's current campaign to email subscribers in the UK is to write to the government telling them not to back ethanol production from corn. The price of bread has already about doubled in the last couple of years, partly because of rising energy costs, but also because of rising wheat costs.
  • If there were no more beer, people would pay attention to climate change, and then we wouldn't have this problem... and there would be more beer.
  • Meanwhile, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bagboy (630125) <neo@ a r ctic.net> on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:55AM (#23012236)
    Greenland's barley production jumps %500 and sees new global markets.
    • by canuck57 (662392)

      Canadian barley is well under $1.00 CDN bushel. And a bushel makes a lot of beer.

      Are you sure it isn't taxes? In Canada at 75% of the cost of a beer is pure taxes. Sort of a situation where starve the farmer but line the pockets of government.

  • "According to a New Zealand scientist, Jim Salinger, the price of beer in and around Australia is going to be under increasing upward pressure as reductions in malting barley yields are experienced as a side effect of our ongoing climate shift."

    When it comes to belief in global warming, the scientific method is completely unnecessary, as long as you agree with the mythical "consensus" dogma.

    Where is the peer-reviewed article documenting the cause of the diminished barley harvest as being "climate change?"

    I
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by unixcorn (120825)
      Exactly! The brewer at the local micro brewery told me that the decreasing harvests were simply due to farmers getting out of the business. It seems the larger breweries had stockpiled so much hopps they drove prices into the dirt..so to speak. He said it was a normal supply and demand thing and that as soon as it once again became profitable to grow hopps the farmers would replant.
    • by db32 (862117)
      Yup, it is in the same boat with the Al Queda - Iraq link. Good thing we have the media to tell us what is true, we don't need no stupid scientists or analyists anymore. (Hint: The link between Iraq and Al Queda is they both have a Q)
  • I think the Tinker [mollyandthetinker.com] said it best:

    O'Brien is cryin' and Murphy's upset.
    Mulronan is groanin' and hasn't stopped yet.
    And the tears from O'Leary make ev'rything wet
    while MacMahon like a banshee is keenin'.
    While their women chat lightly, the men sit and sob
    with their eyelids shut tightly and fists in their gob.
    Not a one's lost his health or his home or his job,
    but their lives are now empty of meanin',
    for the worst of all curses is here.
    And it's...

    Oh, no, the beer's runnin' low! The stout is tapped out
    and there's
  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:57AM (#23012260)

    Manbeerpig will kill us all!

  • by penguin_dance (536599) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:59AM (#23012278)
    And on the next Guinness commercial [youtube.com]....

    First Inventor: How do we make more money at this?

    Second Inventor: I know--we'll tell them that barley is more expensive due to climate change!"

    First Inventor (tapping bottles with the second): Brilliant!

  • Uh ? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Arthur B. (806360) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @10:04AM (#23012330)
    Climate change has impacted agriculture since it was invented. Nothing new here. The only "news" is that the article speculates this particular crop was affected by man made climate change. Quite a stretch.
  • It's lonesome away from your kindred and all
    By the campfire at night where the wild dingos call
    But there's nothin' so lonesome, so dull or so drear
    Than to stand in the bar of a pub with no beer

    Now the publican's anxious for the quota to come
    There's a faraway look on the face of the bum
    The maid's gone all cranky and the cook's acting queer
    What a terrible place is a pub with no beer

    The stockman rides up with his dry, dusty throat
    He breasts up to the bar, pulls a wad from his coat
    But the smile on his face quic
  • How much is required? "In the US, where weather records have been more reliable than elsewhere, 20th-century temperature went up by only 0.3C." [telegraph.co.uk]

    So lets say it takes 6 degrees to start making a difference. So we will have less beer in 2,000 years?
  • Wait a second.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by argStyopa (232550)
    Doesn't climate change (warming) mean that an INCREASING amount of landmass will experience 'optimal' growing seasons?

    I mean, if you push the temperate zones toward the poles, the amount of land under them actually increases. Plus, since the left has been claiming since the 1970s that we're exhausting our arable land by overfarming, won't this open up NEW arable land not so pressured?

    Granted the article is SPECIFICALLY talking about NZ/Australia, which don't really have many options if the best temperature
    • Re:Wait a second.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @10:35AM (#23012710)

      Global warming is causing changes in ecosystems ,and changing ecosystems can major disruptions in flora and fauna. And just because it gets warmer doesn't mean that the new ecosystem is going to be more optimal for agriculture. Raising the temperature a few degrees changed the Sahara from lush vegetation to desert.

      Stable ecosystems are about balance: Enough vegetation for herbivores. Enough carnivores to keep the herbivores from stripping away all vegetation: Enough scavengers to clean up after everything, etc. So when change happens too quickly (decades and centuries instead of millenia) ecosystems cannot adapt, and the land might not be good for any agriculture.

      You already see this in man-made disturbances like Easter Island. Easter Island once was a tropical rain forest. Over a few hundred years, the natives stripped the forests to make it the grassy plains that it is today. But due to these changes, the island's soil is very poor and cannot sustain much flora other than the grasses that exist there today.

  • wir trink't wein.
  • Beer (Score:3, Funny)

    by Frankie70 (803801) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @10:18AM (#23012520)
    Or maybe Al Gore has drunk all the beer & just using Global Warming to cover his tracks.
  • As I understand it some solar scientists (outside of NASA) are predicting a period of reduced solar activity and lower (by 2.0C) temperatures for the next 3 or 4 decades. Of course the AGW proponents are saying hogwash to that. I guess we will all know who is correct soon enough, the next solar cycle is already late (cycle 24) and we will know within 2-3 years if a) it is weaker than the last one b) if it does or doesn't affect temperatures. Both sides however are predicting lower crop output (higher pri
  • Ethanol (Score:2, Insightful)

    by imstanny (722685)
    Corn production increases due to growing ethanol demand (think bio-fuels), has caused more farm land to be allocated for corn, than wheat, and thus increase in wheat prices. Though, now that wheat prices have increased, expect more farm land to be devoted to wheat. Even if the increase in price is due to weather, which in part it appears to be, the economic incentive to increase wheat production automatically exists as a result of a price influx, ie... future prices will likely go down and/or stabalize.
  • Bad Title (Score:2, Insightful)

    "Climate Change Finally Impacts Important Industry" is not correct. The article makes no mention of any impact on an industry. It should probably read "Scientists Say Climate Change Will Finally Impact and Important Industry". The current title suggests that it has happened.
  • by khallow (566160) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @10:40AM (#23012774)
    We have a number of examples of desertification [wikipedia.org] which is in large part a local climate change. Supposedly there are examples going back to ancient times though I can't think of examples older than some tropical empires (Mayan and Khmer empires). There is the "heat island effect", namely that urban areas are warmer than surrounding areas, which is due to the lower albedo of these regions. These are man-made changes in climate. The global temperate has changed over the past few thousand years (according to ice and tree-ring data) resulting in a number of climate changes that have probably affected human industry. And the current global warming trend has supposedly resulted in shifts in the seasons and the start of the growing season for temperate regions.
  • Women get uglier in direct proportion to increase in beer prices and shortages.
  • Same old nonsense. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MaWeiTao (908546) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @11:22AM (#23013286)
    Why does the headline claim that climate change is having an impact on the growing of barley when the very brief linked article makes no such claim. This climate scientist uses, "likely will", "might" and "will" quite liberally.

    I find it impressive how the media has so effectively shifted the terminology from "global warming" to "climate change". So now any time weather deviates from some arbitrary norm we're feeling the effects of climate change. And don't forget to add that it's man-made!

    In fact, on NPR recently a NASA scientist stated that the Argo satellite has shown slight cooling over the past five years. Another thing is that scientists are starting to find that CO2 doesn't quite provide the positive feedback that causes a rise in temperature, instead it acts as a sort of damper. If I could find where I read that I'd link it here but inevitably any search on global warming and climate change results in a flood of propaganda.

    Inevitably, the climate change supporters will claim that these findings aren't statistically significant or that local temperature findings aren't relevant. Basically, if it doesn't reinforce the climate change agenda it's dismissed. Any anyone with disputing data is biased.

    And nevermind the fact that we've had climate change since the Earth has first existed. And furthermore, history has shown that increased global temperatures have lead to human prosperity. Idiots like Ted Turner seem to believe that rising temperatures will somehow lead to drought and widespread famine but as far as I know no scientist has made that claim yet.
  • by Bryansix (761547) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @11:58AM (#23013798) Homepage
    Reporting of this kind is lame because you hear about every time something costs more because of a bad crop etc. but you never hear about all the times prices fall because of a bumper crop. It's just news focused on the negatives designed to get us all to pay attention. Well they've cried wolf one to many times and I just don't care anymore.

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