Sign In or Create an Account.

By continuing, you agree to the Terms of Service and acknowledge our Privacy Policy


Enjoy That Pilsner While You Still Can

Scientists have another grim prediction about the future of booze.

Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

A new study in Nature Communications has sounded a sour note for drinkers of European beer, predicting that increasing heat will affect the yield and quality of hops in Germany, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic — potentially making much of the continent’s beer taste worse and cost more. Researchers’ models, which spanned 2021 to 2050, foresaw “a decline in hop yields from 4.1–18.4% when compared to 1989–2018.” As the climate warms, hops will suffer, and in some places, they already are, with average yields in one Slovenian area falling 19.4% in recent years. What’s more, the hops’ alpha content, which produces a beer’s unique flavor and smell, could fall from 20% to 31% by 2050.

The study urges hop farmers to adapt, and some are already acting, planting in wetter areas, changing the spacing of crop rows, and breeding heat-resistant varieties. One German farmer toldThe Guardian that the amount of rain that fell in his region hadn't changed, but that “the rain does not come at the right time.” In response, he built an irrigation system to feed his thirsty plants: “We would have big problems if we couldn’t water [the hops].”

Miroslav Trnka, a co-author of the study, told The Guardian that “beer drinkers will definitely see the climate change, either in the price tag or the quality ... that seems to be inevitable from our data.” And it won't be as simple as just switching to a different type of booze: There's mounting evidence that climate change is threatening the production of whiskey, wine, and even margaritas. The once-simple pleasure of wasting away has never felt so fraught.

Jacob Lambert profile image

Jacob Lambert

Jacob is Heatmap's founding multimedia editor. Before joining Heatmap, he was The Week's digital art director and an associate editor at MAD magazine.


A Carbon Border Adjustment Is Gaining Bipartisan Ground

If you haven’t already, get to know the “border adjustment.”

The Capitol.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

While climate policy has become increasingly partisan, there also exists a strange, improbably robust bipartisan coalition raising support for something like a carbon tax.

There are lots of different bills and approaches floating out there, but the most popular is the “border adjustment” tax, basically an emissions-based tariff, which, as a concept, is uniquely suited to resolve two brewing trade issues. One is the European Union’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, which will force essentially everybody else to play by its carbon pricing system. Then there’s the fact that China powers its world-beating export machine with coal, plugged into an electrical grid that is far dirtier than America’s.

Keep reading...Show less

It Took More Than 4 Days to Put Out This Battery Fire

The California energy storage facility is just a short hop from the Mexican border.

Cal Fire trucks.
Heatmap Illustration/Screenshot/KUSI-TV

A fire at a battery storage site in San Diego County appears to have been extinguished after burning on and off for multiple days and nights.

“There is no visible smoke or active fire at the scene,” Cal Fire, the state fire protection agency, said in an update Monday morning.

Keep reading...Show less

The Electrolyzer Tech Business Is Booming

A couple major manufacturers just scored big sources of new capital.

Heatmap Illustration/Screenshot/YouTube

While the latest hydrogen hype cycle may be waning, investment in the fundamental technologies needed to power the green hydrogen economy is holding strong. This past week, two major players in the space secured significant funding: $100 million in credit financing for Massachusetts-based Electric Hydrogen and $111 million for the Australian startup Hysata’s Series B round. Both companies manufacture electrolyzers, the clean energy-powered devices that produce green hydrogen by splitting water molecules apart.

“There is greater clarity in the marketplace now generally about what's required, what it takes to build projects, what it takes to actually get product out there,” Patrick Molloy, a principal at the energy think tank RMI, told me. These investments show that the hydrogen industry is moving beyond the hubris and getting practical about scaling up, he said. “It bodes well for projects coming through the pipeline. It bodes well for the role and the value of this technology stream as we move towards deployment.”

Keep reading...Show less