Someone asks you “What problems do we have in the world today?” and things that may spring to mind are war, global terrorism, political corruption, religious conflict, crime, world hunger…the list goes on. People have recently been debating the possible consequences America and the rest of the world will face as a result of the recent presidential election voting in Donald Trump. Problems such as these are primarily short term. As an environmentalist you have to have a much more long term focused futuristic point of view and think about what will be major problems in the coming decades, and centuries even, because of how our world functions today; Trump cannot affect us forever, but our climate can.
Famine, major drought, melting ice caps, water shortage, ocean acidification, tornadoes and hurricanes. All of these are increased by our continuous threat of global warming. The earth is in peril; whether you think it affects you or not, when whole countries are underwater due to rising sea levels, and war breaks out as people fight for our last food reserves trying to feed our ever-growing population it certainly will.
The highest safe level of greenhouse gas emissions in our atmosphere is said to be 350ppm (parts per million). We’re already at 400ppm – past that safe threshold. Something has to change.
So, what can we do?
I remember back in my school days, only 11 years old, and we were already been taught the differences between how much water a shower or bath uses. They encouraged us to save water and take showers instead, to use energy saving lightbulbs in our house, to turn off the television when it wasn’t being watched – I went home dictating it all to my family; I wanted to make a change! I religiously followed the rules, no baths, always turned the tap off whilst brushing my teeth, always turned off plugs not in use. I thought I was going to change the world, and I encouraged people to join me. That was all good, but it has little impact. Now, don’t for one second think I’m telling you to not recycle etc. and do as much as you can for the environment as far as the government suggest, but you definitely can do more. You see, there’s a reason that even though many of us have been cutting down on our energy and water use that global warming is still a huge issue; we’ve just not being told the whole story.
All we hear about is fossil fuels, factories, cars using too much fuel. These are all indeed drivers of our earth’s temperatures increasing, but there’s more, and we’re just not told about it. 90% of the people we interviewed had no idea that raising livestock for food had any impact on our environment.
“The animal agriculture industry is causing 51% of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere”
Raising livestock for meat, dairy products, eggs etc. produces more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector (that’s cars, buses, lorries, boats, trains, airplanes – the lot). While we’re all busy taking public transport, walking or cycling to work, the animal agriculture industry is causing 51% of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere; transport only 13% – that’s nearly 4 times more caused by our cows, pigs, chickens. Cows used in meat and dairy production are the most deadly; the methane produced during their digestive process is 86 times more harmful than the CO2 emissions from our vehicles. As well as methane, the livestock industry is the largest producer of nitrous oxide, which is nearly 300 times more damaging than CO2.
Animal agriculture is also the leading cause of resource depletion. Producing meat and dairy is an incredibly water intensive process. Think about it this way: in his lifetime a bull is going to drink A LOT of water. Say that bull drinks 660,000 gallons of water and when slaughtered produces 1000 burgers, that’s a large amount of water used in the production of much fewer burgers; when you think about how many countries are deprived of water in the world it’s hard to stomach.
At least 660 gallons of water is used in the production of just one single quarter pound beef burger. To put that in simpler terms, 660 gallons is equivalent to 7570 cans of coke. All for 1/4 of a pound of beef. Similarly, it takes 1000 gallons of water to make just one gallon of milk. That’s why consuming meat and dairy products causes 30% of the world’s water consumption as well as:
51% of all human induced climate change
91% of amazon destruction
occupies up to 45% of all our land
To raise animals we need land, not just to graze them but to grow enough grain to feed them for their entire lives – and with our 70 billion farm animals in the world today that’s a lot of grain – especially with cows alone eating 135 billion pounds a day. We could feed around 10 billion people with the food that we grow just for our animals; that’s our whole population (including the 1 billion starving people in the world) plus more! What’s more, on the same plot of land, you can produce 15 times more protein from plants than meat. Regardless of how inefficient consuming meat is, you can look at the immense deforestation rates and realise that if 91% is caused by us needing land for grazing and growing animal feed then surely it is unethical; we are destroying the habitats and homes of thousands of species. 100 species of plants, animals and insects become extinct every single day mainly due to habitat loss.
“I flew over the amazon once. There were just so many gaps in it, it really was quite scary”
The rainforest is our planet’s lungs – it breathes in CO2 and exhales oxygen. We need to keep it alive, not destroy it at the rate we are now, which is 1 acre per second. Unimaginable. One of our interviewees said “I flew over the amazon once. There were just so many gaps in it, it really was quite scary”.
It just isn’t sustainable for us to consume meat and dairy at the rate we currently are, and definitely not at the rate our population is increasing. We don’t have enough land, or water and we certainly can’t afford to add any more unnecessary deadly emissions to our crippling atmosphere. A plant-based diet is far more sustainable.
To feed a vegan (someone who doesn’t eat any sort of animal product including dairy and eggs) for a whole year it takes on average just 1/6 of an acre of land, as opposed to 1/2 an acre for a vegetarian (someone who doesn’t eat meat or fish but still eats animal by-products), and a colossal 3 acres – that’s 18 times more – for a meat eater.
I’m not here to preach vegetarianism or veganism, or to insult anyone who doesn’t live by such diets, but instead to urge you to make a difference and make a change today. Every single burger or glass of milk that you substitute for a soya burger or almond milk is a step towards protecting our environment. Even if you don’t want to cut out meat and dairy from your diets completely, just cutting down can make a huge difference.
#SaveOurPlanet #SaveOurHome #BecomeAGreenBee
*All data collected from various sources all found on http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts