Beer. Glorious beer.

GIF from "Blue Mountain State."


Cold and refreshing and full of flowers. Flowers?

GIF from the Golden Globe Awards.

Yes, flowers. Flowers are responsible for making your beer delicious.

Hops are one of the four main ingredients in beer (and one of only four ingredients allowed in beer, if you ask the Germans). Beer gets its bitterness and aroma — really, all the good stuff, IMHO — from the female flowers of the vine-like hops plant. Hops are also one of the only crops in the world that's used almost exclusively for alcohol (occasionally tea, and sometimes novelty deodorants and soaps and stuff, but mostly beer).

They also may or may not be responsible for "man boobs," but that's a topic for another time.

Mmmmm, future beer. Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images.

The most popular craft beer style in the world is the hop-heavy India Pale Ale, or IPA.

Among their many amazing and wonderful qualities, hops are a fantastic preservative. Back in the 1700s, British breweries began to load their beer with lots of extra hops in order to keep it fresh for the six-month journey to India. So it's pretty much the best accidental byproduct of British colonialism (again, IMHO).

More recently, as the craft beer craze has gained traction in America, breweries have started experimenting more and more with hops, resulting in the deliciously bitter, tastebud-obliterating, piney-citrus liquid beauties of today.

GIF from "Dexter."

But now our beer is in danger of disappearing, and it's all climate change's fault.

In case you haven't heard, there's been a pretty major drought lately on the West Coast. Nearly 3/4 of America's hop production comes from the Yakima Basin in Washington State. But with water in such short supply and each hop plant requiring up to three gallons of water per day, this year's harvest isn't looking so pretty.

"Most growers in the Yakima Valley have incurred significant extra expenses trying to deal with the situation," hops grower Eric Desmarais told CNBC. "Every grower is going to have crop loss. I am not saying it is catastrophic or disastrous, but there will be some crop loss associated with it."

GIF from "In Bruges."

Droughts and rising temperatures have led to the third major hops shortage in less than a decade.

Sure, every farmer deals with a bad harvest every now and then. But the hops industry faced a major shortage in 2008 and again in 2012. Meanwhile, the number of hops farms in the country has doubled, along with the price-per-pound of the harvested flower. On a purely economic level, this increases the costs for the brewery, which then passes that on to the beer drinker.

That means beer becomes more expensive. That means you won't be able to drink as much. And that will make you very, very sad.

GIF from "Girls."

So if you weren't already concerned about our future, let me give you a reason: If we don't protect the planet, we won't have any beer.

All jokes about delicious booze consumption aside, beer is a multibillion-dollar industry in America. If the effects of climate change are allowed to continue at this rate, that industry will be headed toward disaster, which will have a serious impact on our entire economy.

Some of you might be thinking, "Well, good thing I'm not a beer drinker!" in which case (a) I seriously question your definition of "good thing," and (b) you're forgetting that hops are not the only crop affected by climate change (the beer thing is just my sneaky way of getting you to read this). Climate change affects the entire agriculture industry, which affects our food supply, which affects our economy and our livelihoods. How will we be able to enjoy our beer — or anything else for that matter — if we're no longer alive?!

The conclusion is simple:

SAVE OUR ENVIRONMENT. SAVE OUR BEER.

GIF from "Captain Planet."

Photo from Dole
True

As you sit down to eat your breakfast in the morning or grab an afternoon snack, take a minute to consider your food, how it was made, and how it got to your plate.

The fruit on your plate were grown and picked on farms, then processed, packaged and sent to the grocery store where you bought them.

Sounds simple, right?

The truth is, that process is anything but simple and at every step in the journey to your plate, harm can be caused to the people who grow it, the communities that need it, and the planet we all call home.

For example, thousands of kids live in food deserts and areas where access to affordable and nutritious food is limited. Around the world, one in three children suffer from some form of malnutrition, and yet, up to 40% of food in the United States is never eaten.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

When people think of the Deep South, especially in states like Mississippi, most people don't imagine a diverse and accepting way of life. People always look at me as if I've suddenly sprouted a unicorn horn when I reminisce on my time living in Biloxi and the eclectic people I've met there, many of whom I call friends. I often find myself explaining that there are two distinct Mississippis—the closer you get to the water, the more liberal it gets. If you were to look at an election map, you'd see that the coast is pretty deeply purple while the rest of the state is fire engine red.

It's also important to note that in a way, I remember my time in Biloxi from a place of privilege that some of my friends do not possess. It may be strange to think of privilege when it comes from a Black woman in an interracial marriage, but being cisgendered is a privilege that I am afforded through no doing of my own. I became acutely aware of this privilege when my friend who happens to be a transgender man announced that he was expecting a child with his partner. I immediately felt a duty to protect, which in a perfect world would not have been my first reaction.

It was in that moment that I realized that I was viewing the world through my lens as a cisgendered woman who is outwardly in a heteronormative relationship. I have discovered that through writing, you can change the narrative people perceive, so I thought it would be a good idea to sit down with my friend—not only to check in with his feelings, but to aid in dissolving the "otherness" that people place upon transgender people.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo from Dole
True

As you sit down to eat your breakfast in the morning or grab an afternoon snack, take a minute to consider your food, how it was made, and how it got to your plate.

The fruit on your plate were grown and picked on farms, then processed, packaged and sent to the grocery store where you bought them.

Sounds simple, right?

The truth is, that process is anything but simple and at every step in the journey to your plate, harm can be caused to the people who grow it, the communities that need it, and the planet we all call home.

For example, thousands of kids live in food deserts and areas where access to affordable and nutritious food is limited. Around the world, one in three children suffer from some form of malnutrition, and yet, up to 40% of food in the United States is never eaten.

Keep Reading Show less

I saw this poster today and I was going to just let it go, but then I kept feeling tugged to say something.

Melanie Cholish/Facebook

While this poster is great to bring attention to the issue of child trafficking, it is a "shocking" picture of a young girl tied up. It has that dark gritty feeling. I picture her in a basement tied to a dripping pipe.

While that sounds awful, it's important to know that trafficking children in the US is not all of that. I can't say it never is—I don't know. What I do know is most young trafficked children aren't sitting in a basement tied up. They have families, and someone—usually in their family—is trafficking them.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Mahir Uysal on Unsplash

Two years ago, I got off the phone after an interview and cried my eyes out. I'd just spent an hour talking to Tim Ballard, the founder of Operation Underground Railroad, an organization that helps fight child sex trafficking, and I just couldn't take it.

Ballard told me about how the training to go undercover as a child predator nearly broke him. He told me an eerie story of a trafficker who could totally compartmentalize, showing Ballard photos of kids he had for sale, then switching gears to proudly show him a photo of his own daughter on her bicycle, just as any parent would. He told me about how lucrative child trafficking is—how a child can bring in three or four times as much as a female prostitute—and how Americans are the industry's biggest consumers.

Keep Reading Show less