Questioning The Saudis

Grind for October 17th, 2018
“Time and tide wait for no man.” Geoffrey Chaucer

Buzz Kill

The Headline

How a changing climate could affect the price of beer

The Grind

In the first-ever study on barley production and the climate, an international group of researchers predicted that higher temperatures will lead to smaller barley yields and an increase in the price of beer.

Brewers like Anheuser-Busch and Coors are already taking steps to maintain barley supplies amid changing weather patterns, but their efforts might not be enough.

In the worst-case scenario, worldwide barley yields drop by 17%, the price of beer in the US increases by 50%, and consumption falls by 20%.

In the best-case scenario, barley yields increase 90% in some areas (including the US), but not enough to offset poor yields in other parts of the world.

The Details

Beer has always been vulnerable to changing weather patterns because it relies on fresh water, barley, and hops. But beer has been around for more than 10,000 years, and brewers have had plenty of time to create hardier crops.

“Not to underrate the challenges of climate change, but we’d anticipate the barley system will continue to evolve and adapt,” says Bart Watson, Chief Economist for the Brewers Association.

Meanwhile, the beer industry is also struggling with a decline in consumption. According to the Beer Institute, less than 50% of American drinkers regularly choose beer over wine or liquor. Compared to 1995 when 60.8% chose beer.

In the US, major brewers are also struggling to compete with the explosion of craft breweries, which have increased in number by 165% since 2011. Craft beer is currently a $23.5 billion market and growing 6% each year in volume – compared to 0% growth for the beer industry as a whole.

At the end of the day, heat waves and droughts will have the same effect on small breweries as they will on large ones. And what that means for us is that a cold beer will be even harder to come by in our hot future.


The Headline

Trump suggests “rogue killers” are behind the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi

The Grind

No doubt you’ve heard about the mysterious disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi – a journalist who vanished on October 2nd after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Khashoggi was a well-known Saudi dissident who worked in the Saudi embassies in London and Washington before voluntarily exiling himself after the appointment of Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince in 2017.

Rumor has it he worked for Saudi intelligence and has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Details

On Monday, President Trump said he was “immediately sending” Sec. of State Mike Pompeo to meet with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman. In remarks to reporters later on Monday, Trump suggested “rogue killers” were behind the journalist’s disappearance.

Turkey insists Khashoggi was killed on orders from the Saudi Arabian government and that his body was dismembered. The Saudi government insists it has no knowledge of what happened to the journalist.

Turkish officials are supposedly withholding evidence to avoid exposing intelligence sources (or possibly in hopes of striking a deal with the kingdom).

President Trump has responded to the issue with mixed signals.

Trump has pointed out that Khashoggi was not a US citizen and has refused to stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia. But he has also called for an investigation and threatened “severe punishment” if the Saudi government ordered his assassination.

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