Here's another reason to feel terrible the morning after binge drinking: you were not only most certainly generating regrets you won't realize you have until later in the evening, you were gulping down the future of the children, not to mention drinking away the whole planet’s future. Beer is a climate killer. After a recent trip to Munich, where we spent a few days' pay on beer for two nights, we decided to figure out exactly what we'd done to the world.
For all of you who enjoy drinking but don’t really have the time and energy to think about all the consequences because of the drinking part, here’s a short explanation why the polar caps are melting and all the cute polar bears on TV are drowning. The amount of alcohol and CO2 the little yeast bacteria are defecating while they ferment sugar into alcohol produces 62.2 grams of CO2 for one liter of beer--which is the size of a Bavarian “Masskrug,” the traditional beer mug.
To put the whole thing into perspective: the average German (not the drunkard who spends his entire day in the bar next door) drinks 111 liters beer per year. Projecting this on the whole population gives you a number that, frankly, I’m too lazy to write down for you because it’s so fucking big. Thing is, Germany produces a thumping 566.144 tons of CO2 per year by merely drinking. Not to mention the methane people “emit” on both ends after drinking.
Let's continue with the numbers. Here's another one I want to share with you: 500 Euros. That’s basically how much three of us invested into beer in Munich last weekend. Divided by the average price for a Munich Masskrug, that means 67 liters of beer in two days. That means we produced 4,167.4 grams of CO2. Four kilograms of CO2 by simply celebrating the act of excessive drinking!
We didn't want to go to hell so we decided to call carbon karma expert Michael Weltzine, who's the spokesman of climate politics of Germany’s green party to discuss our alcohol habit with him.
Vice: Are you familiar with the dangers for our climate that come with beer brewing?
Michael Weltzine: Not really. A little while ago we received some inquiries by breweries, but that was rather directed against the emission constraints we wanted to impose on them.
So no one really got into the topic on a political scale yet?
No, not really.
We’re feeling pretty guilty for ruining the climate with our massive beer consumption. One liter of beer amounts for 62.2 grams of CO2 and that’s like half the European emission limit per kilometer for one car.
Yeah, but you have to make a difference between the act of brewing and just running the breweries with all the energy that goes along with that. I think that value refers only to the actual brewing process because, even though I don’t have any numbers regarding this, I think the amounts emitted by the entire breweries are probably even higher.
According to the calculations we scribbled down on a coaster there’s an emission of 566,144 tons of CO2 caused by beer every year. What does this amount actually mean?
Like all emissions, it’s way too much, but then again it’s nothing compared to the 88 million tons of CO2 emitted by German power plants every year.
Should we quit drinking?
Well, that’s probably a good thing to do, but you should also think about these tons of CO2 coming from a natural cycle. That means the CO2 was previously stored in a plant before the yeast transformed the sugar. However, we’re still not very advanced when it comes to sustainable agriculture, so we already have additional emissions there.
What should we do then? Plant a tree?
Thing is, reforestation can only be the second step. First of all we should ensure that no more CO2 from fossil fuel will enter the atmosphere; for example, the emissions that come with simply running the breweries. The breweries should also recycle their energy and that’s something that’s not happening enough yet. But in the long run it’s always good to plant some trees.
After talking to Michael, we called up one of these companies who took over the act of passing out letters of indulgence from the Catholic Church nowadays and make green people feel even greener and better about themselves.
Vice: Hi, we’d like to plant a tree.
Atmosfair: We don’t offer this service. We can only offer to invest your money into sustainable energy generation.
OK, but an environmental expert just told us we should plant a tree, so why can’t we do this with your organization?
Well, you could have forest fires and that would only cause new emissions.
That’s smart. So how expensive would 4 kilograms of CO2 be then?
I can’t do this kind of calculation just like that, but I assume this is not about a flight you took?
No, it’s about last weekend. We drank lots of beer and we couldn’t find a beer calculator like the flight calculator your offer on your site. So can we still buy a clean conscience from your organization?
Mm, yeah, for sure. You could just transfer some money. 70 cents is the smallest amount you can start with.
Great, that’s just about as much as we have left from last weekend. Thanks a lot!