It's no secret that the animal agriculture industry is wreaking havoc on the planet. The rainforest is being destroyed, species are going extinct, and our water supplies are running low – all because of the meat and dairy industries.
In this blog post, we'll explore the devastating effects of animal agriculture and what we can do to help fix the problem.
- How Animal Agriculture Affects Our Waters
- How Animal Agriculture Impacts Land & Species
- How Animal Agriculture Contributes to Climate Change
- So What Can We Do About It?
Water is increasingly becoming a hot topic as freshwater becomes more scarce. The United Nations has even said that water scarcity is one of the biggest global risks of our time. And animal agriculture is a huge contributor to water scarcity.
The United Nations estimates that animal agriculture is responsible for 8% of all freshwater consumption in the world. That's not including all the water that isn't used for irrigation so the numbers might actually be much higher.
With the world's population expected to increase by 32% by 2050, we simply can't afford to keep using so much freshwater on animal agriculture.
It has been estimated that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will be forced to live in areas where there isn't freshwater available at all.
Plant-based foods on the other hand don't require nearly as much water. For example, it takes 22 times less water to produce a pound of wheat than it does to produce a pound of beef.
There is a limited amount of land available in the world and by far, livestock and animal agriculture are the biggest users of land.
It's not just that we're using a lot of land for animal agriculture, but we're also destroying natural habitats when we do it. The Amazon rainforest is being destroyed at an alarming rate to make room for cattle ranching.
Between 2001 and 2014, the Amazon lost nearly 150,000 square kilometers of forest – that's an area larger than Greece!
Not only does this have a devastating effect on the animals who live in these habitats, but it also contributes to climate change. Trees are essential for absorbing carbon dioxide and when they're destroyed, greenhouse gas emissions increase.
It's not just the Amazon that's being destroyed for animal agriculture either. Animal agriculture is responsible for 91% of deforestation in the Brazilian rainforest.
It's estimated that we're losing 137 plant, animal, and insect species every single day because of the destruction of natural habitats. At this rate, it's predicted that by 2050 we could see the extinction of up to one million species.
Animal agriculture pollution is responsible for 14% of all greenhouse gas emissions – that's more than the entire transportation sector!
Methane and carbon dioxide are two of the most harmful greenhouse gases and animal agriculture emits large amounts of both of these gases.
Methane is produced by cows and other livestock during digestion and it's estimated that the animal agriculture industry emits more than 100 million tons of methane each year.
To put that into perspective, one ton of methane has the same greenhouse gas effect as 25 tons of carbon dioxide.
Animal agriculture also emits large amounts of carbon dioxide. The clearing of forest for animal agriculture contributes to carbon dioxide emissions and so does the burning of fossil fuels to run farm machinery and transport animals.
It's clear there is a huge animal agriculture environmental impact that must be addressed before the problems continue to plague the world at large.
The good news is that there are things we can all do to help reduce the impact of animal agriculture on the planet.
The simplest way to do this is to reduce our consumption of animal products. By eating less meat and dairy, we can help reduce the demand for these products.
Eating more plant-based diets will help promote sustainable agriculture and protect natural habitats.
We can also support companies that are working to make animal agriculture more sustainable. We can use tools like social media to help others become more informed about animal agriculture and the problems it causes our world.
Getting involved in local politics may also help create change. Contacting your local representatives and voicing your concerns about animal agriculture may help bring attention to the issue and lead to change.
Joining online or local groups that are working to promote sustainable animal agriculture is also a great way to get involved. These groups will often have more traction on specific problems than if you were to tackle them yourself.
What is the relationship between climate change and animal agriculture?
Cimate change is responsible for 14% of the world's greenhouse emissions which leads to the destruction of the ozone layer and increasing temperatures around the world.
What's the effect of animal agriculture water usage?
Animal agriculture is responsible for 20%-33% of the world's water usage. In fact, it takes more than 2,500 gallons of water to produce just one pound of beef.