ANIMAL AGRICULTURE &
THE ANIMAL FOODS INDUSTRIES:
HOW THEY IMPACT ON
THE ENVIRONMENT

It’s not a requirement to eat animals, we just choose to do it – so it becomes a moral choice and one that is having a huge impact on the planet, using up resources and destroying the biosphere. (James Cameron)

Maintaining a safe climate and healthy, productive ecosystems is no longer possible if we continue to raise livestock.

We require dramatic transformational change to heal the multiple crises that now threaten life on earth.

Livestock production is a major contributor to the civilization busters that threaten planetary boundaries: biodiversity loss, nitrogen pollution, deforestation, climate change and ocean health.

They are at breaking point, because we now consume far more than the earth can sustain.

Therefore, freeing nature of the burden imposed by raising tens of billions of livestock hands us a means of healing our planet and creating a sustainable, healthy future.

(source: World Preservation Foundation)

 

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In 2010, the United Nations released a report “Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Consumption and Production” recommending a global shift towards a vegan ‘diet’, stating that it’s vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change.

As the global population surges towards a predicted 9.1 billion people by 2050, western tastes for diets rich in meat and dairy products are unsustainable, says the report. 

The report also states that “Impacts from agriculture are expected to increase substantially due to population growth increasing consumption of animal products.

Unlike fossil fuels, it is difficult to look for alternatives: people have to eat.

A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.” (source: The Guardian)animal_climate change

The Facts: Environmental Impact of Animal Agriculture

Greenhouse Gases

  • Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation
  • Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions
  • Methane is 25-100 times more destructive than CO2 on a 20 year time frame
  • Methane has a global warming potential 86 times that of CO2 on a 20 year time frame
  • Livestock is responsible for 65% of all human-related emissions of nitrous oxide – a greenhouse gas with 296 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, and which stays in the atmosphere for 150 years
  • Emissions for agriculture projected to increase 80% by 2050
  • US Methane emissions from livestock and natural gas are nearly equal
  • Cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane per day

Water

  • Animal agriculture water consumption ranges from 34-76 trillion gallons annually
  • Agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of US water consumption
  • Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of water in the US
  • Californians use 1500 gallons of water per person per day. Close to Half is associated with meat and dairy products
  • 2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef
  • 477 gallons of water are required to produce 1lb. of eggs
  • Almost 900 gallons of water are needed for 1lb. of cheese
  • 1,000 gallons of water are required to produce 1 gallon of milk
  • 5% of water consumed in the US is by private homes; 55% of water consumed in the US is for animal agriculture
  • Animal Agriculture is responsible for 20%-33% of all fresh water consumption in the world today
  • 27%-30%+ of global water consummation is for animal agriculture
  • 1/3 of global fresh water consumed is for animal agriculture

Land

  • Livestock or livestock feed occupies 1/3 of the earth’s ice-free land
  • Livestock covers 45% of the earth’s total land
  • Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction
  • Animal agriculture contributes to species extinction in many ways. In addition to the monumental habitat destruction caused by clearing forests and converting land to grow feed crops and for animal grazing, predators and “competition” species are frequently targeted and hunted because of a perceived threat to livestock profits. The widespread use of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers used in the production of feed crops often interferes with the reproductive systems of animals and poison waterways. The over-exploitation of wild species through commercial fishing, bush meat trade as well as animal agriculture’s impact on climate change, all contribute to global depletion of species and resources
  • Livestock operations on land have created more than 500 nitrogen flooded dead zones around the world in our oceans
  • Nearly half of the contiguous US is devoted to animal agriculture
  • The US lower 48 states represent 1.9 billion acres. Of that 1.9 billion acres: 778 million acres of private land are used for livestock grazing (forest grazing, pasture grazing, and crop grazing), 345 million acres for feed crops, 230 million acres of public land are used for grazing livestock
  • 1/3 of the planet is desertified, with livestock as the leading driver

Waste

  • Every minute, 7 million pounds of excrement are produced by animals raised for food in the US
  • This doesn’t include the animals raised outside of USDA jurisdiction or in backyards, or the billions of fish raised in aquaculture settings in the US
  • 335 million tons of “dry matter” is produced annually by livestock in the US
  • A farm with 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000 people
  • 130 times more animal waste than human waste is produced in the US – 1.4 billion tons from the meat industry annually
  • 5 tons of animal waste is produced per person in the US
  • In the U.S. livestock produce 116,000 lbs of waste per second:
      • Dairy Cows: 120lbs of waste per day x 9 million cows
      • Cattle: 63lbs of waste per day, x 90 million cattle
      • Pigs: 14lbs. of waste per day, x 67 million pigs
      • Sheep/Goats: 5lbs of waste per day, x 9 million sheep/goats
      • Poultry: 0.25-1lbs of waste per day, x 9 billion birds
  • Dairy cows and cattle – 1.08 billion pounds per day (from 9 million dairy cows, 120 pounds waste per cow per day) + 5.67 billion pounds per day (90 million cattle, 63 pounds waste per one cattle per day) = 6.75 billion pounds per day waste or 2.464 trillion pounds waste per year (manure+urine)
  • 3.745 trillion pounds waste per year (this is the equivalent of over 7 million pounds of excrement per MINUTE produced by animals raised for food in the U.S. excluding those animals raised outside of USDA jurisdiction, backyards, and billions of fish raised in aquaculture settings in the U.S.
  • Animals produce enough waste to cover SF, NYC, Tokyo, etc, based off 1lb of waste per 1sqft at 1.4 billion tons
  • US Livestock produces 335 million tons of “dry matter” per year

Oceans

  • 3/4 of the world’s fisheries are exploited or depleted
  • 90-100 million tons of fish are pulled from our oceans each year
  • As many as 2.7 trillion animals are pulled from the ocean each year
  • For every 1 pound of fish caught, up to 5 pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as by-kill
  • As many as 40% (63 billion pounds) of fish caught globally every year are discarded
  • Scientists estimate as many as 650,000 whales, dolphins and seals are killed every year by fishing vessels
  • 40-50 million sharks killed in fishing lines and nets

Rainforests

  • Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction
  • 1-2 acres of rainforest are cleared every second
  • The leading causes of rainforest destruction are livestock and feedcrops
  • Up to 137 plant, animal, and insect species are lost every day due to rainforest destruction
  • 136 million rainforest acres cleared for animal agriculture
  • 1,100 Land activists have been killed in Brazil in the past 20 years

Humanity

  • 414 billion dollars in externalized cost from animal agriculture
  • Global Environmental costs of Animal Agriculture estimated at $170 billion
  • 80% of antibiotic sold in the US are for livestock
  • World population in 1812: 1 billion; 1912: 1.5 billion; 2012: 7 billion
  • 70 billion farmed animals are reared annually worldwide – more than 6 million animals are killed for food every hour
  • Throughout the world, humans drink 5.2 billion gallons of water and eat 21 billion pounds of food each day (based on rough averages of 0.75 gallons of water and 3 lbs of food per day
  • US Americans consume 5.3lbs of food per day
  • Worldwide, cows drink 45 billion gallons of water and eat 135 billion pounds of food each day (based on rough average of 30 gallons of water and 90 lbs of feed per day for 1.5 billion cows)
  • We are currently growing enough food to feed 10 billion people…and still can’t end hunger
  • Cornell Chronicle, “U.S. could feed 800 million people with grain that livestock eat, Cornell ecologist advises animal scientists”
  • IOP Science, Redefining agricultural yields: from tonnes to people nourished per hectare
    Worldwide, at least 50% of grain is fed to livestock
  • 82% of starving children live in countries where food is fed to animals, and the animals are eaten by western countries
  • 80% of the worlds starving children live in 14 countries
  • The average American consumes 209 pounds of meat per year
  • Dairy consumption may leads to breast lumps
  • Dairy may “give guys man-boobs”
  • Land required to feed 1 person for 1 year:
      • Vegan: 1/6th acre
      • Vegetarian: 3x as much as a vegan
      • Meat Eater: 18x as much as a vegan
      • 1.5 acres can produce 37,000 pounds of plant-based food
      • 1.5 acres can produce 375 pounds of meat
  • A person who follows a vegan diet produces the equivalent of 50% less carbon dioxide, uses 1/11th oil, 1/13th water, and 1/18th land compared to a meat-lover for their food
  • Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq ft of forested land, 20 lbs CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life

(source: Cowspiracy: The Facts)

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