Climate change will make beer much more expensive

Over the next century, higher temperatures and an increased number of droughts will hit the global barley supply, pushing beer prices way up. University of East Anglia economist Dabo Guan and his colleagues developed multiple scenarios based on several climate and economic models. Nature:

The researchers then simulated the effect of these droughts and heat waves on barley production by using software to model crop growth and yield on the basis of weather and other variables.

They found that, globally, this extreme weather would reduce barley yield by between 3% and 17%. Some countries fared better than others: tropical areas such as Central and South America were hit badly, but crop yields actually increased in certain temperate areas, including northern China and the United States. Some areas of those countries saw yield increases of up to 90% — but this was not enough to offset the global decrease.

Finally, Guan and his colleagues fed these changes in barley yield into an existing economic model that can account for changes in supply and demand in the global market. This enabled them to look at how reduced barley production would affect pricing and consumption of beer in countries, as well as trade between nations.

In the worst-case scenario, the reduced barley supply worldwide would result in a 16% decrease in global beer consumption in the years of extreme-weather events. Prices would, on average, double...

One goal of the research, Guan says, was to make tangible how "climate change will impact people’s lifestyle... Read the rest

Bruce Sterling on the next 50 years of climate-wracked maker architecture

Bruce Sterling's hour-long lecture to the Southern California Institute of Architecture is pretty good vintage Sterling: a seeming grab-bag of loosely related futuristic, ascerbic observations about climate change, Estonian e-residency, Kazakh new cities, monumental architecture, rotting Turinese palaces, Silicon Valley arrogance, AI, new-new urbanism, and so on -- which then all seems to pull together in an ineffable, somehow coherent finale that is both hopeful and bitter. Read the rest

Blame billionaires for climate change

70% of global emissions come from 100 companies: Koch Industries' annual carbon emissions bill is 24 million tons. Read the rest

Capitalism torched the world, fascism rose from the ashes

Umair Haque (previously) is in the unfortunate position of being both inarguably correct and horribly depressing when he says "catastrophic climate change is probably inevitable." Read the rest

IPCC climate report is most urgent yet

The UN's International Panel on Climate Change is an interdisciplinary expert body comprised of leading scientists who study climate change; they issue periodic reports summarizing the best peer-reviewed science on climate change and making recommendations as to what must be done to avert the most catastrophic outcomes; their latest report is the gravest yet, where even the most optimistic projections of the panel predict disruption and hardship for tens of millions of people, within our lifetimes. Read the rest

All levels of UK government have been paralysed by Brexit

The British government has been immobilised by Brexit preparations: hundreds of millions of pounds paid by insurers to the government to rebuild from flooding are sitting idle in savings accounts because no one can spare the time to spend them; ministers won't schedule out-of-London meetings because being away during a key vote would endanger the whisper-thin Tory majority; UK workforce productivity has fallen off a cliff while workers struggle to make preparations for the uncertain future; the government is incapable of legislating because the whole calendar is filled with Brexit bills; junior ministers are barely showing up for work because they don't believe they'll have careers after Brexit; the NHS's overriding priority is Brexit preparation -- everything, from top to bottom, is crumbling. Read the rest

ARPA-E, a sustainable energy moonshot agency of the US government, is absolutely kicking ass

The Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy [ARPA-E] was set up by bipartisan action in 2007, funded by Obama in 2009; expanded by Congress in 2009; and survived attempts by Trump to kill it in both 2017 and 2018. Read the rest

Puerto Rico didn't suffer a "natural disaster": it was looted and starved long before the hurricanes

Hurricanes Irma and Maria left Puerto Rico in tatters, but it would be a mistake to blame the weather for Puerto Rico's suffering; Puerto Rico was put in harm's way by corrupt governments doing the work of a corrupt finance sector, then abandoned by FEMA, and is now being left to rot without any real effort to rebuild its public services so that they can be privatized and used to extract rent from the island's residents. Read the rest

30 years after cyberpunk, Japan is still the (greying, insular, shrinking, climate-wracked) future

In the heady years of cyberpunk, Japan epitomized the future: gritty and neon-lit, urbanized and electrified, computerized and high-tech, dominated by massive corporations. Read the rest

Six years ago, North Carolina Republicans voted in a law decreeing that the seas weren't rising

In 2012, North Carolina's Coastal Resources Commission studied the question of sea-level rise and the likelihood that coastal areas would be inundated by severe weather, concluding that the seas were likely to rise by 39" over the century; the Republican legislature, backed by property developers building in low-lying coastal regions, passed a bill prohibiting any such research and decreeing that the seas would rise at the same rate that they had through history, without regard to any science about accelerating rates fueled by climate change. Read the rest

A comedian and the former president of Ireland have a new podcast about women and climate justice

Comedian Maeve Higgins is the host of the amazing Maeve In America podcast in which Higgins, an Irish immigrant to Brooklyn, discusses the immigrant experience in America with other immigrants (as an immigrant to the USA myself, I find this a consistently fascinating and uplifting listen); Mary Robinson was the first woman elected President of Ireland (1990-1997), and after a tenure marked by much-needed, groundbreaking liberalization and secularization, she served as the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002 -- she was forced out by opposition from George W Bush's UN delegation!). Read the rest

Extreme poverty is on the decline, extreme inequality is on the rise

The rich world has never been more unequal, and the poor world has never richer: in 2018, we're seeing record low levels of global "extreme poverty" (a measure that's admittedly a bit fuzzy) and record levels of inequality, which wealth concentrated into a declining number of hands. Read the rest

We're going to be eating bugs really soon now, again

Whether or not you've ever chosen to eat insects, you've eaten insects, or parts of them, in the grains, legumes, fruits and nuts you've consumed (not to mention the occasional inhaled kamikaze mosquito). Read the rest

Record numbers of Americans believe climate change is real, and a majority understand that humans are to blame

Amidst a global heatwave, some good news from the National Surveys on Energy and the Environment: a record-setting 73% of Americans believe that climate change is real and 60% believe humans are "at least partially responsible" for this fact. It's the peak indifference moment, when the fight shifts from convincing people that there is a problem to convincing them that it's not too late to do something about it. Read the rest

Avowed "utopian anarchist" Elon Musk is also one of the top donors to the GOP "Protect the House" PAC

Elon Musk, an avowed utopian anarchist, is one of the top fifty donors to the Republican Protect the House PAC, having funneled $38,900 to support the group's mission of protecting Republican Congressional seats. Read the rest

Homebiogas: easy, clean, climate-friendly way to heat and power your home with garbage

Yesterday, I saw a demo of the Homebiogas bioreactor: it's essentially an artificial stomach that uses colonies of microbes to digest your home food waste (it can do poop, too, but people tend to be squeamish about this), providing enough clean-burning biogas to cook your next meal, heat your house, or run a generator -- what's left behind is excellent fertilizer. Read the rest

Leaked document shows Trump officials planning to force Americans to spend $311m-$11.8b/year to keep unprofitable coal and nuclear energy plants from shutting

Officials in Trump's Department of Energy prepared a plan to use unprecedented "emergency powers" to force the US grid to rely on expensive, unprofitable coal and nuclear power, rather than paying market rates for cheaper sources of energy: renewables and natural gas. Read the rest

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