Worldwide Beermakers Struggle to Find CO2
Does 'Operation Warp Speed' Have Something to Do with It?
Beer Shortage? Say it Ain’t So
In a world supposedly full of too much carbon dioxide (CO2), it is suddenly becoming increasingly difficult to find any. As Alanis Morissette once said,
“Isn't it ironic... don't you think?”
CO2 is a natural byproduct of the yeast fermentation process in beer making, along with alcohol, of course. But, beermakers then add CO2 to boost carbonization and get that fizz we all love. Well apparently, beermakers around the world are finding it hard to obtain extra CO2.1 2 There’s a carbon dioxide shortage, they say. That means breweries won't be able to provide all of their usual beers in the next few months.
Personally, a threat to the soda market doesn’t faze me. But a threat to the beer market? Somebody better start sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere immediately!
Without beer, how are we supposed to drink away our sorrows brought on by the sorry state of the world? According to TOP, a global data marketing agency,3
“Covid-19 has instigated many changes in habits with the latest numbers suggesting our consumption of alcohol is one of them. Sales of alcohol are [sic] have gone up by 8.92% since the pandemic reached the U.S.”
You don’t say! Perhaps the lockdowns, job threats, and monetary inflation don’t make for a happy populace.
Although most food-grade CO2 used by the beer industry (and other food and beverage industries) is a byproduct of industrial processes, natural reservoirs also help make up the market supply. An underground CO2 reservoir in Mississippi known as the Jackson Dome — formed by an extinct volcano — has supplied CO2 to US beverage makers and food processing companies for decades. But recently, it became contaminated with benzene.4 This certainly didn’t help the current supply struggles. Talk about kicking a drunk while he's down.
But what else gives? Why is there such a strain on the CO2 market?
Operation Warp Speed
Is the government’s Operation Warp Speed a major culprit in this mess? This “operation,” as they called it, commanded the CO2 market (in the form of dry ice) to accommodate the necessary cold-transport of Covid-19 vaccines. It’s not surprising they made this into a war operation. The only thing the government is good at is starting wars. Winning them is another story. They even appointed Army General Gustave Perna as the COO of the operation. Perna would give briefings to the American people wearing army camouflage, perhaps to keep the virus from seeing him in broad daylight.
All snark aside, the government essentially setup an incredible public-private partnership among pharmaceutical companies, pharmacy chains, hospitals, syringe/glove/mask manufacturers, transportation fleets, etc., at a scale of which Mussolini would have been jealous.
The Pfizer vaccine vials are required to be maintained at -94 degrees Fahrenheit and have a hold time of 30 days. Maintenance of this temperature is critical to the integrity of the vaccines. Without dry ice, which is simply frozen carbon dioxide, maintaining these sorts of temperatures through the transportation and storage phases wouldn’t have been possible.
The Moderna vaccines had a clear advantage in this respect since their vaccine only required maintenance at 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit, with a hold time of 6 months. That’s the temperature of a standard refrigerator. I’m not sure why Pfizer got the cozier government treatment. Perhaps that’s another story.
According to GAWDA, roughly 5 tons of dry ice are required per 1 million doses of Pfizer vaccine.5 As of July 3, 2022, more than 3.6 billion (with a "b") Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines were shipped to 180 countries in every region of the world in the name of "equity."6 Equity pays big these days. That's a lot of dry ice required. Dry ice makers were getting diverted at the start of the operation. From The Atlantic in November of 2020:7
“We’re getting bombarded with inquiries by hospital districts and public-health departments,” says one employee at a dry-ice supplier, who requested anonymity because he isn’t authorized to speak to the press. Airgas—one of the nation’s largest dry ice companies, with 15 manufacturing sites and 60 distribution centers—is collaborating with the federal government’s vaccine-logistics effort, Operation Warp Speed. “We formed teams to evaluate everything that’s needed throughout the supply chain: How much dry ice might be needed, in different geographies, with different populations. Ensuring the logistics are in place,’” says David Joyner, Airgas’s senior director for carbon dioxide. …
On the other end of the size spectrum are companies like Noble. “We’re currently a one-shift operation,” says Noble’s CEO and owner, Dave Mahoney. “But if the need is there, we can work around the clock if we have to. And if we need to be here around the clock—that’s a good problem to have. It’s just rewarding to know we can be part of the solution to the pandemic.”
Operation Warp Speed is still ongoing, albeit under a different name. The Biden administration retired the name to distance its own management of the enterprise from any evidence of Trump. They can't be seen as doing the same thing as a Trump administration, you see.8 The Biden transition team arbitrarily set a goal for itself to distribute 100 million vaccine doses during the administration's first 100 days in office. Apparently 100 just sounded like a good number. Trust the science.
The government is still providing these arguably worthless vaccines “free” to the American people, as if those who wanted them in the first place wouldn’t pay for them out of their own pockets. The government renewed a new contract with Pfizer in June of this year.9 Even though the demand has fallen as people realize they're being scammed, the HHS is still marketing them out like free candy:10
“COVID-19 vaccines are available for free to everyone 6 months and older … Get vaccinated if you haven't. If you are fully vaccinated, get a booster …”
As of May of this year, the U.S. government has wasted over 82 million Covid vaccine doses.11 It's not a waste in the eyes (pockets) of Pfizer or Moderna, though. No wonder they keep giving them away. Pretty soon your dog will become eligible. It's a shame because all of the associated CO2 production could be going to more useful things in life, like beer.