Global Warming and Me
If you’re thinking this is going to be a political rant about the melting ice caps in the Arctic you are wrong. Honestly, I haven’t given much thought to about global warming. so I didn’t know what to think. Let’s face it – I’m old and not likely to be living when alligators roam the ponds and lakes of Wisconsin. I am sorry to say I really didn’t think about global warming much at all until one fateful morning when I read an article in “USA Today”.
Now, It’s hitting home – this so-called global warming. Nah! I’m not worried about the predictions that palm and lemon trees will be growing in the yards of my Canadian friends. And I’m not too worried that Ohio will become the new Florida and winter coats will be relegated to the cedar chest… not that I would mind that. But I don’t really believe any of that will ever affect me; I’m old and I don’t foresee any of that happening in my lifetime.
So why now – all of a sudden- have I grown wary of global warming? I’ll tell you why. I realize now that it is possible, that in my lifetime, beer will get so expensive I’ll only be able to afford one six-pack a month – – instead of my usual six pack a week. That’s why!
I’m here to tell you that I am NOT a beer drinker who fancies expensive beer. I’m just a common old guy who buys whatever beer is cheap or on sale. I have only one caveat – that it be drinkable. Once in a while I do splurge. I might buy a Moosehead or one of those expensive red Irish beers on the day I get my Social Security check. But generally my meager budget limits me to the same kinds of beer I drank in my college days – e.g. “Natty Light”, “Genesee Light” or “Red, White and Blue”.
Seriously, do they still make Red, White & Blue beer? Let me google it. Ah, bless Pabst Brewing Co. they’re bringing it back. Seriously, read this. I don’t know what it’s going to cost though, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be $1.79 a six pack anymore now that Pabst has brought it back.
Some of you are thinking “Why does this guy (me) have to have beer, anyway?” Well, sir or ma’am, I’m going to answer that this way. That’s the same thing as asking the guy at a waffle house why he has to have waffles. Because he does, that’s why.
Anyway, if global warming is going to cause a beer shortage, then I don’t want any part of it [not the beer, the global warning].
Here’s what got really got me thinking about global warming (from “USA Today” October 15, 2018):
Worldwide, over the next few decades, beer could become more scarce and thus more expensive because of human-caused global warming, a study reported Monday.
The production of barley, the main ingredient in beer, is likely to drop substantially because severe droughts and heat extremes will become more frequent as the climate changes, the study says. ‘Average yield losses (of barley) range from 3 percent to 17 percent, depending on the severity of the conditions,’ the study says (sic).
In the USA, beer shortages could reduce the amount Americans consume each year by as much as 900 million gallons. That’s (gulp) about 9 billion bottles of beer…”
Gulp? Gulp is right! Seriously? Some of you are reading this and sneering even laughing. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking this old geezer ain’t going to be around in a “few decades”. TWell, you may be right, but I’m not going to just fold up my tent and go home anytime soon, if I can help it. This is serious stuff. I have to plan for the future. If I could stockpile beer, I’d start stockpiling right now.
But alas, I know from experience that even good beer goes bad after a time. Just the other day, I pulled a bottle of John Adams Christmas Ale, circa 2015, from my refrigerator – it had been hiding in there among the stuff I didn’t know I still had in the fridge – things like yeast, baking soda, Bulgarian pickles, pink garlic and olives.
When I found that lone bottle of amber delight, my eyes grew wide with anticipation and my mouth began to water. I eagerly popped off the cap. I was shaking with excitement. At my age just the prospect of drinking a bottle of non-cheap beer makes me crazy. I tipped the bottle and swilled a big gulp. Just my luck. It was flat and funky. I poured the rest down the drain. It broke my heart. Please understand, I didn’t splurge on myself. I didn’t buy that wonderful, non-cheap beer; it was a gift. And now it flows down the sewer.
USA Today continued to add to my dismay:
“…On average, beer prices are likely to double as less barley becomes available, according to the study. One of the most affected countries would be Ireland – where beer prices could increase by as much as 338 percent by 2099 under the most severe scenario…”
Your eyes are not playing tricks on you. That says “338 percent” by 2099. You’re not telling me anything I don’t know. I know I’m not going to be around in 2099 – at least not in this person – but still that’s only a little over 80 years from now.
Let’s take 338 and divide it by 8. When you do, you come up with 42.25 percent per decade. And who knows, I just might make it for a decade. And if I do, beer will cost 42.25 percent more than it does today. The Miller Lite I’m buying for $6.99 a six pack now (and that’s the top-end of my beer budget) will cost me almost $10 by then – that’s over $1.50 for each bottle. As I age, I know my income is not going up, it’s probably going to go down. Being old is what it is. If beer goes up by 42.25 percent and I’m still around in ten years, the only thing I can do is forget the beer.
Global warming is going to reduce the barley crop, and if barley weren’t used to make malt and malt used to make beer (and vinegar and chocolate malts), no one would miss it except maybe sows, cows and goats.
According to the encyclopedia Britannica (Yes! It still lives!):
“Barley. … Grown in a variety of environments, barley is the fourth largest grain crop globally, after wheat, rice, and corn. Barley is commonly used in breads, soups, stews, and health products, though it is primarily grown as animal fodder and as a source of malt for alcoholic beverages, especially beer…”
All due respect to the venerable old Britannica, but my grocery store has nary a loaf of bread made with barley. They do have some beef barley soup, but it looks like no one buys it judging by the dust on the tops of the cans. Heck, even lentil soup sells better. And animal fodder? Who cares? Let them eat oats…or wheat… or ancient grains! Save the barley for beer!
The USA Today article continued piling on the woe:
“As for consumption, the global amount of beer consumed could fall by as much as 16 percent.
In the worst-case climate scenario, parts of the world where barley is grown – including the northern Great Plains, Canadian prairies, Europe, Australia and the Asian steppe – were projected to experience more frequent droughts and heat waves.
‘Current levels of fossil-fuel consumption and carbon dioxide pollution – business as usual – will result in this worst-case scenario, with more weather extremes negatively impacting the world’s beer basket,” Mueller said. “Our study showed that even modest warming will lead to increases in drought and excessive heat events in barley-growing areas.’ …”
Global warming has always been more or less theoretical to me. I really never gave it much thought. Especially last winter when I was freezing to death trying to walk in sub-zero temperatures through two feet of snow. I figured if global warming became a big problem our children and grandchildren will figure out a way to fix global warming if it gets too bad, thus I could safely and blissfully choose to ignore it. I’ve mused that living where I do where winters are cold and snowy, a little global warming would be mighty welcome. I have always wanted a palm tree in my front yard. Might be nice to have an orange tree or two, also.
But now…. global warming is getting too close to home. I can barely afford $3.99 for a six-pack of Genny Light. Spending $6.99 on Miller Light only happens when I get paid, which is rarely.
Ten years from now, Genny will be almost $6.00 (and don’t you dare to insult my math skills). And Miller Light will be nearly $10.00. I’ll either be out of beer, out of time, or drinking moonshine – it’s made from corn – or dead.
Wait. Moonshine comes from corn. Corn grows well where it’s hot… ask the Mayans. Why can we make beer out of corn? Well, you gotta love Google. I have just now learned that you can make beer out of corn…
“Since the late 1970s the craft beer movement has been growing among both brewers and consumers based on the desire to drink something besides mass-market macro-brewed lagers. These light, flavorless beers often are brewed using substantial percentages of adjuncts such as corn (maize) or rice in order to achieve an extreme degree of lightness in color, clarity, calories, and flavor. However, in our zeal to make different styles of flavorful beer at home we should not throw the baby out with the bath water…” Read more here.
Anyway, if you would have asked about global warming a month ago, I would have shrugged my shoulders and said “Hmm I dunno…”. But now, I tells ya, I’m losing sleep over it.
Excuse me… I have to go to Walmart. They have Red, White and Blue on sale for $2.88! And I have a 50-cents-off coupon!