Friday, May 18, 2007

Climate Change Threaten German Beer Festival

The effects of climate change are more insidious than we presently realize; even beer is threatened by global warming.

By: Vanessa Uy

If you think that global warming can’t possibly affect those traditions-no matter how trivial-that we hold dear, then you’re wrong. When spring arrived early in the heart of Europe this year, most Germans greeted the strange phenomena with much rejoicing and fanfare. But a warmer climate could threaten a much- loved German staple: beer. Whether you believe that the ancestral home of beer is Germany or Ancient Egypt, you should be concerned on how global warming and climate change can affect your cherished “brew.” The type of barley that is used to brew traditional German gourmet beer has not weathered very well to Europe’s increasingly warmer climate. Looks like ski resorts are not the only casualty of global warming.

A decline in barley harvest was noticed in Germany during the past few years. There was also a noted decline in the general health and well being of the kind of barley that is traditionally used in preparing German beer. Where this leads to can only be assessed by on going research on the warming climate’s effects on the barley crop.

Compounding the threat of climate change on Germany’s beer culture is the European Union’s heavy-handed approach in granting financial subsidies. The EU hand these out like their going out of fashion to farmers who comply to their current mission du jour. Crops that can be used to produce bio fuels like the rape plant whose rape seed oil can be easily converted to bio diesel are heavily subsidized. This “free-money” diplomacy can easily make small-scale German farmers to choose “favored” crops as opposed to barley.

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