Animal Agriculture is the major cause of climate change, environmental destruction and pollution of our planet. Don’t believe it? Read on
The United Nations was the first to point this out years ago but the issue has become so dire now that they have published a report urging people to totally remove or drastically reduce meat, eggs and dairy to save the planet from destruction. Here are some serious problems of animal agriculture that makes it not only unsustainable but devastating to all aspects of life on the planet.
Destruction of forests and biodiversity
To get an idea of the extent of animal agriculture, consider the fact that each year more than 150 billion animals are slaughtered worldwide. So we can imagine how many are being reared. They are infact occupying more than 40% of the total land that could have been used for farming and are responsible for destruction of 91% of rain forests and thus loss of wildlife and biodiversity.
When so many animals are bred, they not only require large amounts of space, they also fart and poop in large amounts producing the green house gas, methane, that has the warming potential of twenty three times that of carbon dioxide and is the leading cause of climate change even ahead of the transport and coal industry.
Pollution of water
All the waste they produce like excreta and blood are polluting our ground water and rivers and the runoff has created dead zones in oceans where no marine life can survive. Also with a hundred billion fishes caught every year it is predicted that our oceans will be dead and devoid of life by 2050.
Animal agriculture uses up 70 % of our fresh drinking water and is leading to fast desertification of the planet. Compare the fact that one kg of wheat uses 1500 liters of water while one kg of meat needs 15000 liters to be produced. So while our lands are becoming barren and people are dying of thirst and dirty water, we are using most of the fresh water for rearing animals.
Animal agriculture is responsible for most of the deadly communicable disease that have been plaguing the world. Bird flu, swine flu, mad cow, MERS, SARS and Ebola have been transmitted to humans due to intensive factory farming practices. Moreover, animal based foods contain saturated fats and cholesterol which are a major cause of lifestyle illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and cancers.
With our growing population and increasing trend of meat and dairy consumption especially in the richer countries, the grains and legumes that could feed the poor are being given to the animals. It requires 10 kg grain to produce 1 kg meat which is a rather inefficient way of eating. In reality we are producing enough crops that can easily end world hunger if fed directly to the people.
What can we do? While it is important to reduce our carbon footprint by less driving and emissions, more walking, cycling and recycling, there is one aspect of our life where our daily choices are having the greatest and lasting effect on our environment. Just by the simple and doable act of changing our diet from animal to plant based we can in one stroke take steps to end world hunger, improve our health, get clean drinking water for all, protect our oceans, preserve our biodiversity, stop desertification and put brakes on climate change.
Is this sustainable development aspect worth our consideration?