Earth’s climate has changed over the past century. The atmosphere and oceans have warmed, sea levels have risen, and glaciers and ice sheets have decreased in size. The best available evidence indicates that greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are the main cause. Continuing increases in greenhouse gases will produce further warming and other changes in Earth’s physical environment and ecosystems. Equally concerning are the growing number of ocean dead zones, water and air pollution, deforestation, and global freshwater depletion.
It is time to acknowledge in wider media that the environmental impact of animal agriculture is a major playing card along side the burning of fossil fuels. The information below relates to our worlds finite resources, its capacity to withstand abuse, the damage occurring and the dwindling future our that the next generations look to have.
- What is Climate Change?
- Water Usage
- The Ocean
- Air Pollution
- War on Wild Animals
- World Hunger
- The Environmental Impact of Animal Agriculture Conclusion
What is Climate Change?
The term ‘climate’, in its broadest sense, refers to a statistical description of weather and of the related conditions of oceans, land surfaces and ice sheets. This includes consideration of averages, variability and extremes. Climate change is an alteration in the pattern of climate over a long period of time, and may be due to a combination of natural and human induced causes.
Global climate has varied greatly throughout Earth’s history. In the final decades of the 20th century, the world experienced a rate of warming that is unprecedented for thousands of years.
The planet’s average temperature has risen by 0.78 degrees C (1.4 degrees F) over the past century. This rise has been accompanied by ongoing rises in ocean temperatures, ocean heat storage, sea levels and atmospheric water vapour. There has also been shrinkage in the size of ice sheets and most glaciers. The recent slowdown in the rate of surface warming is mainly due to climate variability that has redistributed heat in the ocean, causing warming at depth and cooling of surface waters.
While the numbers sound small, the slow, steady warming boosts dangerous climate shifts and extreme weather conditions such as flood and drought. The world has seen an increase in drought length and severity since the 1970s, and we can expect more of the same as Earth’s temperatures increase by an estimated 1.1 to 6.4 degrees C (2 to 11.5 degrees F) over the next hundred years.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
When we talk about greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, there are three important emissions to address which are being created in excess by human activity which is contributing to climate change at a dire level; Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane (MH4) and Nitrous Oxide (N2O).
Most of our activities contribute to greenhouse gas emissions globally. Rising incomes and urbanisation are driving a global dietary transition in which traditional diets are replaced by diets higher in refined sugars, refined fats, oils and meats. By 2050 these dietary trends, if unchecked, would be a major contributor to an estimated 80% increase in global agricultural greenhouse gas emissions from food production and to global land clearing.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
CO2 is the most common greenhouse gas produced from human activities. It is considered the most powerful greenhouse gas as it has the most significant direct-warming impact on global temperature as a result of the sheer volume of its emissions.
CO2 is released from the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and petroleum, which is used for producing fertiliser to grow massive amounts of grain for farmed animals to consume, as well as all of the processes involved in the killing of these animals, and processing, transporting and refrigerating their flesh.Deforestation and other land-use changes that remove vegetative cover also contribute.
- High-Energy Feed: Factory-farmed animals are typically fed high-energy crops such as corn and soy, which is dependent on large amounts of chemical fertiliser.
- Fuelling Factory Farms: Intensive confinement operations require vast amounts of fossil fuel-based energy to cool, heat, and ventilate the facilities, and energy is also used to operate farm machinery to cultivate and harvest feed crops.
- Processing and Packaging: Slaughtering animals and packaging and transporting animal products emit several tens of millions of tonnes of CO2 every year.
- Deforestation: Forests are important carbon sinks, sequestering carbon and preventing it from reaching the atmosphere. Deforestation for animal agriculture—both for clearing land for feed crops and for grazing—is devastating the ability to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. In fact, the Amazon rainforests ability to absorb carbon is declining at an alarming rate.
- Feed Crop Cultivation: Like forests, soils are also carbon sinks, and cultivating land for feed crops releases up to 28 million tonnes of CO2 per year globally.
- Desertification: Grazing of pastures can cause the once fertile soil to dry and releases up to 100 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere annually.
Animal agriculture is already well-known to contribute to GHG emissions. Livestock’s Long Shadow, the widely-cited 2006 report by the United Nations FAO, estimated that 7,516 million metric tons per year of CO2 equivalents (CO2e), or 18% of annual worldwide GHG emissions, are attributable to farmed animals. Though this report is often heavily criticised.
An updated 2009 analysis by the World Watch Institute critiques the FAO report and shows that farmed animals and their byproducts actually account for at least 32,564 million tons of CO2 equivalents per year, or 51% of annual worldwide greenhouse gas emissions emissions.
Additionally, new estimates by the UN Conference on Trade and Development brought forward at the 2014 UN Climate Summit now places global emission estimates between 43-57%. It looks at food production more holistically to also include emissions from land use, change and deforestation, as well as the processing, packaging, transport and the sale of agricultural products, and food waste
Globally, over 60% of total CH4 emissions come from human activities, such as industry, agriculture, and waste management activities. Ruminant animals such as cows and goats, and, to a lesser extent, monogastric animals such as pigs, release large quantities of CH4 as part of their normal digestive process (a process called enteric fermentation). The manure that billions of animals produce each year is stored or managed in lagoons or holding tanks—MH4 is also produced from this.
The agriculture sector emitted 58% of Australia’s total methane emissions in 2008 and globally, the agriculture sector is the primary source of methane (CH4) emissions.
Nitrous Oxide (N2O)
Nitrous Oxide (N2O) has about 300 times the global warming potential (GWP) than C02. N2O can persist in the atmosphere for up to 150 years and is present in far greater quantities than ever before, with its concentration in the atmosphere now 16% larger than in 1750.
Today’s industrial-scale farms wouldn’t be possible without synthetic nitrogen fertilisers—a high-temperature, energy-intensive process to synthesise plant-available nitrate from air. N2O is emitted when people add nitrogen to the soil through the use of these synthetic fertilisers and because they are also based on fossil fuels, they therefore contribute to climate change. Manufacturing one kg of nitrogen fertiliser requires the energy equivalent to two litres of diesel. Energy used during fertiliser manufacture was equivalent to 191 billion litres of diesel in 2000 and is projected to rise to 277 billion in 2030.
N2O emissions also occur naturally through many sources associated with the nitrogen cycle, which is the natural circulation of nitrogen among the atmosphere, plants, animals, and microorganisms that live in soil and water.
Agricultural soil management is the largest source of N2O emissions in the US, accounting for about 74% of total US N2O emissions in 2013. Nitrous oxide is also emitted during the breakdown of nitrogen in livestock manure and urine, which contributed to 5% of N2O emissions in 2013. The majority of Australia’s N2O emissions come from agriculture, including fertilisers, livestock waste and burning crop stubble. The agriculture sector emitted 76% of Australia’s nitrous oxide emissions in 2008.
Global farmed animal production, including growing feed crops, accounts for 65% of global N2O emissions
If Earth was the size of a basketball, all of its water would fit into a ping pong ball. That’s roughly 326 million cubic miles (1.332 billion cubic kilometres), according to a recent study from the US Geological Survey. Some 72% of Earth is covered in water, but 97% of that is salty ocean water and not suitable for drinking.
The Earth stripped of its water (left). All of the Earth’s ocean water (middle) and freshwater (right).
The 2015 World Water Development Report advised that the demand for water around the world will increase by 55% over the next 15 years. With current supplies, that means only 60% of the world’s water needs will be met in 2030 with the reasons for the shortfall including climate change, which causes irregular rainfall and dwindling underwater reserves.
A 2016 journal published in Science Advances has stated that at least two-thirds of the global population—4 billion people—live under conditions of severe water scarcity at least 1 month every year.
Agriculture requires large quantities of water for irrigation and of good quality for various production processes, while also providing drinking water for 70 billion farmed animals annually. The farmed animal industry is a major consumer of scarce water resources and generally, animal products have larger water footprints than non-animal products.
Currently, 70% of the world’s freshwater resources are used for the agriculture system and approximately one-third of that is needed just to grow feed crops. In comparison, only 10% is used for municipal consumption. According to the FAO, during 2000 agriculture was responsible for 93% of water depletion worldwide—imagine the figure 15 years later.
When you factor in the additional water used to hydrate animals and keep factory farm facilities clean, the water footprint of meat becomes colossal. It takes around 576 gallons / 2,180 litres of water to produce 1 pound of pork, 468 gallons / 1,771 litres for chickens, and 1,799 gallons / 6,809 litres is used for 1 pound / 0.45 kg of beef.
The UN estimates that producing 1 kg of beef requires some 15,000 litres of water. In comparison, 1 kg of rice requires about 3,500 litres of water.
While we are producing a diverse range of non-food crops such as cotton, rubber and industrial oils in an increasingly productive way, agriculture confirms its position as the biggest user of water on the globe. With the amount of water that goes into producing a meat eater’s diet for 1 month, enough food could be produced to feed a non-meat eater for a whole year.
Australia is often in drought. In the 2000s, there were intensive water restrictions for years where people weren’t allowed to water their gardens, cars were not allowed to be washed, and thousands of people installed rain tanks to capture rain water. We cannot sustain our expected population growth on arguably the driest continent in the world—and yet we continue utilise billions of litres of water on growing animals for food unnecessarily.
Much of our planet relies on groundwater. According to NASA, more than half of Earth’s 37 largest aquifers are being depleted—so much water is pumped out of them that they are rapidly depleting and wells are going dry, and many regions have failed to adequately address the problem.
Climate change is projected to increase the stresses on water supplies and heated disputes are erupting in places where those with deep wells can keep pumping and leave others with dry wells. Even as satellite measurements have revealed the problem’s severity on a global scale, many regions have failed to adequately address the problem. Aquifers largely remain unmanaged and unregulated, and water that seeped underground over tens of thousands of years is being gradually used up.
Twenty-one of the world’s 37 largest aquifers—in locations from India and China to the United States and France—have passed their sustainability tipping points, meaning more water was removed than replaced during the decade-long NASA satellite study period.
Satellite system flags stressed aquifers: Yearly trend in aquifer water-level anomalies. Source: NASA
The 70 billion animals grown and killed per year for human consumption not only use most of the worlds water and eat most of the grain and soy that is grown, they also excrete most of it as feces and urine. Farmed animals produce 130 times more excrement and other waste than the entire human population.
Growing animals for food is the biggest contributor to global water pollution. Some companies take a small portion of animal waste to burn as biofuels—pumping more CO2 pollution into our atmosphere—while most of this waste remains untreated and unsanitary, bubbling with chemicals and disease-bearing organisms in massive human-made lagoons which are literally visible from space.
These waste lagoons contain elevated levels of ammonia, nitrogen, and phosphorous, as well as pathogens such as Salmonella, E. coli, Cryptosporidium, and fecal coliform. The lagoons also contain antibiotics that are expelled in the animals’ waste and provides a breeding ground for antibiotic resistant bacteria
A US feedlot Coronado Feeders in Texas, photographed by satellites orbiting the Earth.
There are further images and information
Much of the waste is eventually drained and is purposely dumped into our waterways and ocean, which also destroys various fish populations, while spreading antibiotic resistant bacteria to human populations.
Water Scarcity Conflict
The UN has warned that water scarcity could lead to conflict between communities and nations as the world is still not fully aware of the water crisis many countries face as a result of climate change.
Countries such as India and Australia will be hit hardest by climate change as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts a rise in global temperature of between 0.3 and 4.8 degrees Celsius (0.5 to 8.6 Fahrenheit) by the late 21st century.
Australia will see rising numbers of deaths from heat waves, water resource challenges, impacts upon agriculture and risks posed to coastal infrastructure by rising seas, while India will see freak weather such as droughts that will lead to serious water shortages and affect agricultural output and food security.
Hospitals in New Delhi cancelled surgery at one point in 2013 because they had no water to sterilise instruments, clean operating theatres or for staff to wash their hands.
Ocean Dead Zones
Ocean dead zones, or hypoxia areas, are barren lifeless expanses of sea without enough oxygen to support life. Habitats that would normally be teeming with life essentially become biological deserts void of oxygen and ocean dead zones are spreading across the continental shelves of the world’s oceans at an alarming rate. There are over 550 of them currently.
They are caused by nutrient runoff from land, sewage, agriculture fertiliser and pesticides, manure, and other human activities in the watershed and are highly affected by river discharge. These nutrients stimulate an overgrowth of algae that sinks, decomposes, and consumes the oxygen needed to support life in the ocean.
Agriculture operations on land have created more than 550 nitrogen flooded dead zones void of life around the world in the ocean. Some hypoxia areas are so large that they can be seen from space—the largest dead zone ever recorded occurred in 2002 at the Gulf of Mexico, and reoccurs every spring, encompassing 21,965 square kilometres (8,481 square miles). On average over the past five years, it has been about 14,244 square kilometres (5,500 square miles).
A 2008 map of the ocean dead zones based on data from Robert Diaz, Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Red Circles: The location and size of many of our planet’s dead zones. Black Dots: Where dead zones have been observed, but their size is unknown.
Ocean trawling—dragging nets behind boats to catch fish—dates back to the 1300s, but with ever depleting marine life, industrial trawlers have travelled farther out on the world’s continental shelves, with ships now trawling below 200 meter (650-foot) depths.
Industrial fishing has caused a global decline in fish populations to near extinction in most parts of the ocean. Massive nets, miles long scrape the ocean depths and indiscriminately scoop up and suffocate everyone in their catch—turtles, seals, dolphins, whales and billions of struggling fish.
What actually happens when those nets are dragged along the deep-sea floor is nothing good, of course. Trawling stirs up the sediment lying on the seabed, displaces and harms marine species, causes pollutants to mix into plankton and move into the food chain and creates harmful algae blooms or oxygen-deficient dead zones.
One study compared trawled areas with pristine portions of a Mediterranean sea canyon off the Spanish coast, about 40 km (25 miles) long and 2,200 meters (7,220 feet) deep. The researchers found trawled canyon sediments contained 52% less organic matter than the undisturbed seafloor. There were 80% fewer sea worms in the trawled region as well and there was only half as much diversity of species in the trawled seafloor.
Intensive and chronic bottom trawling transform large portions of the continental slope into faunal deserts and highly degraded seascapes. Our oceans are dying.
Fish Species Decrease
The World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London revealed that the number of fish and other aquatic animals dropped 49% between 1970 and 2012. Other some fish populations have been hit even harder—tunas, mackerels, and bonitos have fallen by 74%.
According to the research, the primary cause of the massive die-off is overfishing by humans. Climate change, which is causing the world’s oceans to acidify and change temperature, is also a major problem. Commercial fishing indiscriminately kills billions and billions of aquatic animals each year and about 20% are “by-catch”, or animals considered undesirable for consumption. As a result, 20 billion fish are thrown away like trash each year.
It is predicted by 2048 that the world’s oceans will be empty of fish because of the on-going, mass scale fishing that humans are inflicting upon the oceans which take the lives of trillions of fish annually.
Marine life are exploited in the same way that farmed animals are, and because of dwindling ocean fish numbers, the aquaculture industry emerged. Aquaculture is essentially factory farming where fish are grown on land-based or ocean-based aqua farms. They spend their entire lives in cramped, filthy enclosures and where the majority suffer from parasitic infections, diseases and debilitating injuries.
Aquaculture production is rising and will continue to increase. FAO model projections indicate that in response to the higher demand for seafood, world fisheries and aquaculture production is projected to grow by 15% between 2011 and 2021.
Comparison of fishery production and aquaculture, 1950-2010. For additional details on this body of evidence see the UN FAO report on The State of World Fisheries and Agriculture, 2012 http://www.fao.org/fishery/sofia/en
While the environmental impacts of aquaculture vary according to the species of fish farmed, aqua culture alters coastal foreshores, estuaries, mangroves, salt marshes, and marine and other aquatic environments. Water pollution from aquaculture is caused by faecal and urinary products, uneaten fish food, chemicals and antibiotics used to control diseases.
As the human-caused biodiversity in our oceans continues to decline, the marine environment will not be able to sustain our way of life. We are on the threshold of the first major ecosystem collapse of the Homocene.
The world’s oceans are absorbing Carbon Dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere at an unprecedented rate and the resulting acidification is transforming marine ecosystems.
The ocean waters are estimated to have absorbed about 50% of the CO2 released by human activities in the past 200 years and has resulted in the acidification of ocean surface waters by around 30%. The highest levels of acidification are occurring in the Arctic and the rest of the world’s coldest waters.
The Acidification Process and Affect:
- Carbon Dioxide is absorbed from the atmosphere and it bonds with sea water forming carbonic acid.
- This acid then releases a bicarbonate ion and a hydrogen ion.
- The hydrogen ion bonds with free carbonate ions in the water forming another bicarbonate ion.
- That carbonate would otherwise be available to marine animals for making calcium carbonate shells and skeletons, and to corals to form hard reef structures. I.e. the more dissolved Carbon Dioxide in the ocean, the less free carbonate ions available for making calcium carbonate.
From a current pH of 8.2, it is predicted that the ocean’s pH could fall to about 7.8 by 2100.
Ocean acidification poses a major risk to ecosystems and will lead to mass ocean species extinction. When certain species become weaker and die off due to the lack of carbonate, then the species that feed on it could die off as well and there would be a massive chain reaction of oceanic species extinctions.
If the oceans die, we die. It’s that simple.
The ocean is arguably the most critical part of our entire environment and yet, it is treated like a rubbish bin. The ocean is responsible for:
- Providing 50 – 85% of our oxygen via tiny ocean plants called phytoplankton. They live near the water’s surface and like all plants, they photosynthesise—that is, they use sunlight and Carbon Dioxide to make food—a byproduct of photosynthesis is oxygen. Phytoplankton co-exist in a mutually beneficial nutritional relationship with other animals and plants (such as copepods, zooplankton, fish and whales). Without plankton, nothing could survive in the ocean, and without plankton, we would not have enough oxygen to breathe.
- Driving our weather systems which provides the energy to fuel storm systems that provide fresh water vital to all living things on the planet. The rise in global temperatures will impact precipitation. High-latitude regions will experience changes in atmospheric circulation and increases in water vapour (flash flooding, hurricanes, etc), while others in subtropical areas precipitation will decrease and will simply become dryer (droughts).
Rising Sea Levels
The latest study by NASA’s former lead climate scientist concludes that glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica will melt 10 times faster than previous consensus estimates, resulting in sea level rise of at least 10 feet / 3.05 meters in as little as 50 years.
While this study implies change far beyond previous consensus estimates, Hansen states:
We conclude that continued high emissions will make multi-meter sea level rise practically unavoidable and likely to occur this century. Social disruption and economic consequences of such large sea level rise could be devastating. It is not difficult to imagine that conflicts arising from forced migrations and economic collapse might make the planet ungovernable, threatening the fabric of civilisation.
— James Hansen, NASA Former Lead Climate Scientist
Animal manure odour is composed of, among other things, ammonia and sulfide (including hydrogen sulfide), and pig manure odour has a combination of at least 121 different compounds.
Animals who are held in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and feedlots stand on piles of manure. With general movement of these animals, plumes of manure dust lift from under their hooves and are picked up via the wind travelling kilometres.
People who live nearby or work in factory farms and CAFOs have reported health problems such as respiratory irritation, chest tightness, headaches, sore throats, diarrhoea, and more related to the dust and gas, especially from pig operations.
This dust poses a greater health hazard than does general “nuisance” dust because the dust from feedlots and animal confinement units contains biologically active organisms such as bacteria, mould, and fungi from the feces and feed.
A new study shows that the DNA from antibiotic resistant superbugs found in American cattle yards have actually become airborne and are creating a new pathway by which bacteria can potentially spread to humans and hinder treatment of life-threatening infections.
A study conducted in 1998 estimated that a small Texas cattle feedlot with capacity over 1,000 cows produced 7,300 tons of inhalable small particulates. This was a low estimate and using EPA standards assumptions, actual particulate emissions may have been 4 times this amount. Imagine a CAFO of 80,000 capacity producing 584,000 tons of inhalable small particulates. Many studies around individual feedlots have found particulate levels significantly above state and federal (US EPA) standards.
Organic Dust Toxic Syndrome (ODTS) was recognised as a distinct clinical syndrome in the 1980s. It is an acute influenza-like illness that follows 4 to 12 hours of intense exposure to agricultural dusts.
How do the animal agribusinesses attempt to reduce the amount of dust that reaches human population? They use more water via sprinklers for dust suppression. The recommended amount of water to use during the peak of the dry season is 5,000 gallons / 18,927 litres of water per acre per day.
According to a 2006 United Nations report
- The total area occupied by grazing is equivalent to 26% of the ice-free terrestrial surface of the planet.
- The total area dedicated to feed crop production amounts to 33% of totally arable land.
- In all, farmed animals (cows, pigs, chickens and other farmed animals) production accounts for 70% of all agricultural land and 30% of the land surface of the planet.
Beef eaters use 160% more land resources than people who eat a plant-based diet. It’s estimated that between 2006 and 2050 the world population will increase by 35% to over 9.6 billion people. With so much land currently being used to grow farmed animals or the food to feed them, it’s a constant challenge to find adequate pasture land to meet demand. This means that producers are creating pastures where there weren’t any originally clearing rainforest, savanna and grassland.
In order to sustain this population growth, the amount of land designated to grow farmed animal feed alone would have to increase by 42%
Of the land that isn’t currently covered by ice, farmed animals take up 26% of it with another 4% dedicated solely to growing feed. That’s 30% of potentially habitable land worldwide dedicated solely to animal agriculture!
So, what do we get out of this deal? For the price of one acre of land, we get a yield of 250 pounds or 113kg of beef. You may say to yourself, “Hey, that seems pretty good. That’s, like, 1,000 quarter pound hamburger patties per acre!” When you consider that the same amount of land can produce 50,000 pounds or 22,679kg of tomatoes, up to 53,000 pounds or 24,040kg of potatoes or 30,000 pounds or 13,607kg of carrots it doesn’t seem like such a great use of space anymore.
A 2012 FAO report states that the last great ice age ended about 10,000 years ago, leaving forests on nearly 6 billion hectares, about 45% of the earth’s land area. However, has human population and activity increased, forests now only cover 31% of the earth’s land area.
The number one reason for cutting down trees, including the destruction of the worlds rainforests, is to clear land to grow farmed animals and food to feed them.
The land planted in soybeans alone now exceeds that in either wheat or corn. The area of land in South America devoted to soy grew from 17 million ha in 1990 to 46 million ha in 2010, mainly on land converted from natural ecosystems. 3/4 of the global production of soy is turned into soy meal which is used for animal feed.
Compared to most continents, Australia has few forests, yet we are knocking them down faster than almost any other country. To make things worse Australia has the highest rate of species extinction on the planet!
Worldwide, animal farming is the number one cause of deforestation, as well as one of the leading drivers of land degradation. To create grazing land, trees are cleared and natural habitats are destroyed, killing or leaving many native animals homeless and threatening many plants and animals with extinction.
In fact, the largest and most biodiverse tract of tropical rainforest in the world, the Amazon, has the largest amount of deforestation occurring. Pastures occupy an estimated 70% of previous forested land in the Amazon, and feed crops cover a large part of the remainder.
Every second of every day, one football field of tropical rainforest is destroyed in order to produce 257 hamburgers.
Buffel grass was introduced to Australia from parts of Africa and Asia more than 50 years ago to control dust and improve pasture, however, it has been now officially declared a weed.
The invasive species is widespread in central and northern Australia and is wiping out native plants, threatening endangered animals in arid and semi-arid regions, and is making life difficult for communities who rely on finding bush foods in Australia.
In the past when biodiversity and agriculture have been threatened by foxes, rabbits, camels and cats, Government bodies and animal agriculture industries have spent a lot of time and effort in horribly destroying “predator” and “nuisance” animals—so why is Buffel grass any different?
Because the dominant species supports much of the beef industry in northern Australia, with Buffel accounting for 90% of the NAPCO (North Australian Pastoral Company) property managed in Roma.
Biodiversity, endangered animals and our environment are sacrificed at the hands of animal agriculture.
War on Wild Animals
In order to protect farmed animals, Governments across the world murder millions of “predator” and “nuisance” animals each year using millions of taxpayer dollars.
An agency within the USDA has a mission which is to “resolve wildlife conflicts to allow people and wildlife to coexist.” In other words, to allow industries to continue exploiting farmed animals by mounting a war on wildlife, destroying any animal which may threaten the industry economic interests. Native predatory species account for a significant portion of the animals killed, frequently at the behest of ranchers who consider them “pests” for attacking livestock. Worse yet, the methods used in the secretive culls are far from humane or discriminating.
During 2014, USDA agents and contractors destroyed over 2.7 million wild animals
The Center for Biological Diversity notes that over 27 million native animals have been destroyed (shot, poisoned and strangled by snare) by the USDA since 1996.
America is the largest producer of corn in the world. It is estimated that corn covers 32.5 million hectares of farmland and wheat is designated 16.5 million hectares—but now the land planted in soybeans alone now exceeds that in either wheat or corn—46 million hectares in South America as of 2010. In comparison to these giants, the next largest crop produced in the US, cotton, only covers 9.5 million acres.
We are what we eat! Which in our case is soy, corn, oats and wheat.
According to the Earth Observatory, over 819 million tons of corn were produced around the world in 2010 and over 60% of the world’s energy intake is met by corn, wheat and rice. Despite the abundance at a global scale, 1 in 8 people suffer from chronic undernourishment. In the US alone, there’s 1 in 6 people facing hunger, and 1 in 10 people in Australia rely on food relief.
Policymakers tell us 70% more food must be produced by 2050 to feed the growing world population. However, we actually produce enough food to feed twice the current world population.
And when the world produces enough food to feed everyone on the planet with at least 2,720 kilocalories per day, where does the discrepancy between the amount of crops produced and the number of people fed begin?
Globally, we waste 60% of the food produced through post-harvest losses, through it being thrown out by consumers, and by the use animal feed. For every 100 calories fed to animals in the form of human-edible crops, we receive 10 calories or less in the form of meat.
When the majority of the world’s grains are turned into animal feed, it’s ironic that the world’s appetite for meat is causing global food shortages
Backwards Industrial Food Complex
Industrial feedlots have replaced small farms across the world at alarming rates, and animals that would naturally graze on grass and small shrubs (even chickens naturally eat grass, not corn as portrayed by mainstream media and Big Ag companies) are locked up in thousands of indoor pens and fed a man-made mixture designed to fatten ‘em up quick.
The protein rich grains (corn and soybeans) accelerate the growth of animals to get them to reach market weight quickly at low cost. As a result, nearly 47% of soybeans and 60% of corn grown in the United States is consumed by livestock. That’s over half of the country’s corn and just under half of its soybeans.
Currently, 3/4 of the global production of soy is turned into soy meal which is used for animal feed.
But it gets worse.
Across the world, cows, sheep, goats, pigs and chickens have not evolved to eat soy or corn and doing so can cause serious digestive problems. Cows that are fed corn can only stand to live on a crop-based diet for up to six months, after that if they continue to eat corn they develop ulcers, liver disease and can even suffocate from excessive bloating. Chickens that are fed soy have trouble absorbing necessary nutrients and vitamins, and as a result, are pushed so hard to grow quickly that their bones are brittle and often can’t physically support the accelerated body growth. Not to mention the fact that people who eat industrially raised meat are exposed to the hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides mixed into animal food
We’re using the majority of our grain stores to raise sick animals that make people sick.
The Environmental Impact of Animal Agriculture Conclusion
Governments around the work towards reducing the global burning of fossil fuels by focusing on green energy implementations where countries such as America and China make landmark climate change deals, but the Australian Government selfishly continues to deny climate change all together.
Will an attempted back flip on our global power sources be actioned in time and have enough of an impact on climate change? Given the continual population climb and the resulting resource demand, it is doubtful. However, every individual is actually able to play their part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions starting today.
How you ask? As animal agriculture drives climate change forward at an astounding rate, it will only continue to increase as the human population does. Statistics may show that the consumption of meat is reducing in the western world, but meat consumption in the up and coming first world countries, such as China, is increasing. Every individual on this planet is able to help each day of their lives by not purchasing and consuming animal flesh or their bodily secretions, and thus, not supporting the industries which are doing the most damage.
Demand drives supply and the supply drives climate change.
If a global shift away from animal consumption did occur, it would not happen over night, it would occur incrementally. So the systems currently in place for animal agriculture would need to be reconstructed, new processes and concepts would need to be applied and existing jobs redefined (not lost) in order to support the new agriculture construct across the world. Given the human capacity for innovation and adaption, there is certainly nothing here that would prove impossible.
We all have to work together to preserve our future. Think about it.