WHAT OTHERS SAY: To get climate change message across, talk about beer

Wednesday, July 2, 2014 | 1:17 p.m. CDT

For years, the overwhelming scientific consensus on global warming hasn’t been enough to convince some skeptics — mostly those making a living off the fossil fuel industry — that the U.S. or anybody else should lift a finger to reduce carbon emissions.

Then came the government reports, analyzing serious shifts in weather patterns, and predicting massive new costs to deal with rising oceans, unpredictable river levels, floods, fires and famine.

Every time it would snow, critics would point to the falling flakes as evidence that global warming was a worldwide hoax.

Then came the predictions of economic catastrophe from the elite of the world’s investment class, predicting potential revolutions as a direct result of a Bermuda Triangle of drought, famine and income inequality.

None of it created much movement among stubborn climate-change deniers.

But now there’s a magic buzzword that could help Americans, particularly those who vote Republican, realize that climate change is truly worth taking seriously.


More specifically, bad beer.

On Wednesday, a group of business owners, environmentalists, politicians and beer drinkers gathered at Urban Chestnut’s Washington Avenue brewery to hear some truly scary news.

Beer’s principal ingredients, hops and barley, are sensitive plants. They don’t like it when the weather is too warm, which is why so much of the world’s beer ingredients, especially hop flowers, are grown in Germany and the northwest U.S. Warmer temperatures could negatively affect taste, and, ultimately, the price, of your favorite brew.

Whether you’re a fan of the craft brew made at places like Urban Chestnut and Schlafly or you’re a Bud man, this is alarming.

Hit Joe Six-Pack in the wallet and he pays attention.

Tell a beer drinker loyal to his brand that next year’s batch of brew is going to lack the gentle, beechwood-aged taste he’s grown used to, and, well, revolution comes to mind.

“If there’s a drought, it will impact the yield, it will impact the quality,” Urban Chestnut co-founder and brewmaster Florian Kupient told the Post-Dispatch’s Jacob Barker.

This gives us an idea.

The climate change crowd needs to hire a Frank Luntz-type political public relations genius and figure out how to put a beer spin on the messaging.

“Global warming: Take it seriously or your beer will suck.”

We’re spitballing here, but work with us.

Beer. Climate change. There’s a way forward for America in there somewhere.

Copyright St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Reprinted with permission.

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Mark Foecking July 2, 2014 | 2:12 p.m.

Is anyone actually going to advocate doing what's necessary to stabilize CO2 levels over the next 20 years? A 90% reduction in fossil fuel use by the developed world and a ban on new fossil fuel use by developing countries? Conservation on a massive, economically crippling scale? Lifestyles more characteristic of sub Saharan Africa than of the US or Europe?

Then don't waste time talking about it. Solar, wind, even nuclear are not up to replacing even a small fraction of fossil fuel use (particularly in transportation) in 20 years. We'll adapt or perish. There's nothing else on the table.

We'd better hope it's a hoax.


(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 3, 2014 | 7:41 a.m.

Unfortunately, Mr. Foecking, you are correct, but it's SO much easier to endlessly carp about subjects like this than to come up with realistic solutions to them.

From your previous posts we understand you've done things which you as an individual CAN do to reduce carbon dioxide generation; I recently purchased a hybrid automobile, which both uses less fossil fuel per mile driven and produces fewer carbon dioxide emissions (because much of the time the internal combustion engine isn't running). Let this anonymous writer (I wouldn't put my name on this silly editorial either) tell us what he/she is personally doing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Enjoy Independence Day. Remember, it's our INdependence celebration, not our DEpendence celebration (although some folks appear to favor having ever more of the latter).

PS: A decrease of far less than 90% in carbon dioxide emissions in developed countries would have a devastating effect on industries producing metals (pyrometallury), ceramics, etc., commonly associated with what we call "modern civilization." We could actually manage without BEER, but how about without steel, copper, glass, portland cement (active ingredient in concrete), petroleum refining and other thermochemical processing, etc.? Apparently having a degree in either journalism or political science empowers one to be an expert on all things. :)

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