Climate Change Anyone?
I was in a pub earlier this week and a local beer stood out: Climate Change. The beer is brewed by a local brewery (Teignworthy) who believe in “traditional values, by sourcing local ingredients from local businesses, which use less food miles.” All very good for promoting as few “food miles” as possible. Transporting produce over distance, the food miles, ultimately lead to more carbon dioxide being added to the atmosphere. The drink, Climate Change, is a special brew perhaps for the forthcoming Climate Change talks in Paris at the end of November 2015. The talks start very soon and really need to succeed in getting international agreement to get a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.
Ironically a change in the climate may adversely affect the production of beer. Already adverse weather has led to failures in the crops. In Germany the region of Hallertau in Bavaria is the largest hop-growing area in the world. It produces around a third of the hops grown in the world and more than half of the plants grown in Europe. Already weather effects are causing hops to increase in price. 2015 has seen Europe experiencing a powerful heatwave in the summer; the temperatures reached the highest ever recorded in Germany at over 40 Celsius. Other information on this story can be found on this The Local link.
Other examples of evidence suggesting beer may be at risk from climate change come from Australia, USA and South Africa. In South Africa there is also a threat to hop growing that is similar to Germany. There are 13 commercial hop farms in South Africa that are on marginal land and are facing decreased rainfall. There may be an uncertain future for these hop farms. Hops here have been specially bred and adapted to drier conditions in the country. Typically hops prefer a wetter climate. Here it is likely that the tolerance of these hops is going to be tested to the extreme. Different local ingredients, such as the herb buchu, are being considered as viable alternatives to hops. The price of hops has increased by 250% over the last decade. Some of the world’s largest brewers have been concerned enough to sign the “Brewery Climate Declaration” which aims to make the industry more sustainable. They intend to reduce their carbon emissions.
In Australia the concern is in the grains used in the brewing industry: The changing climate could affect them by altering the amount of starch in “non-stay-green” samples that are put under water stress. Again bio-engineering grain to have the presence of the stay-green group of genes may help grains under water stress. The quality of the starch in grain affect the quality of the beer. Without the change in grain genetics, meaning grain is more drought tolerant, it is highly likely that prices for beer will increase.
In the USA it has been noted that for each barrel of beer produced, 3 and a half barrels of water are used. Large brewers are gradually reducing the volume of water needed. There is a huge cost to the waste water treatment and ultimately water may become scarcer in some areas. In Idaho, as the snow packs decline there is likely to be an adverse effect on the quantity of barley grown there. Large brewers are again experimenting with alternative ingredients for beers.
So I’m going to enjoy Climate Change (the beer) whilst I can: several combining factors may impede my ability to enjoy the drink in the future. These reports around the world confirm that in the main ingredient groups. Climate Change (the process) is not necessarily going to be as enjoyable as the beer. Here’s hoping to a good outcome in the Paris (21st Conference of the Parties or COP) climate talks soon… Cheers!
Electric Highway Plans
The UK government is planning to trial a strategic road network that will charge electric vehicles through wireless charging. The idea has been suggested that a trail area on the core road network could be up and running this year and over an eighteen month period. Vehicles could charge as they drive along. A contractor is to be appointed to implement the trial system. The plans include a longer term plan to install plug-in charging points every 20 miles on the motorway network. This will mean that electric cars have more opportunities to be adopted more widely. The government is already committing £500 million over the next five years to keep Britain at the forefront of this technology, which will help boost jobs and growth in the sector. Watch this space for electric highway developments.
The Canadian city of North Vancouver, British Columbia has passed a law that mandates climate change warning stickers be applied to petrol pumps in the city. This is the first time in the world that warnings have been placed in fuel stations. Details of the story can be found on the ThinkProgress web site. The initiative has been initiated by Our Horizon, a Toronto-based group. The aim of the stickers is to ultimately change behaviour and to ensure that motorists think about their actions and climate change. The stickers will hopefully make a connection to people’s day to day behaviour such as filling up their fuel. This is an initiative that should be widely adopted to raise awareness and make people consider what impact they are having through their daily behaviour.