Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Environment

Livestock production is one of the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution. According to a 2006 United Nations report,

“Climate change is the most serious challenge facing the human race. The livestock sector is a major player, responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions measured in CO2 equivalent. This is a higher share than transport.”

The rainforests pay a heavy price too. We need oxygen to survive, and rainforests provide us with much of that oxygen. Still, about one-third of all rainforest destruction is to provide grazing land for beef cattle.

Animals that are raised for food produce 13 billion tons of waste every year, which is 100 times more toxic than human waste. Along with pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals in feed crop runoff, waste from industrial farms is washed into our streams, rivers and lakes.

Adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet is far less demanding on the Earth's resources.
  • amount of water needed to produce one pound of steak: 2,500 gallons
  • amount of water needed to produce one pound of lettuce, wheat, tomatoes or potatoes: 25 gallons or less
  • amount of excrement produced by farmed animals: 130 times more than humans
  • amount of water pollution caused by livestock production: 10 times that of the human population

"Yet, as environmental science has advanced, it has become apparent that the human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future: deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease." - Worldwatch Institute, "Is Meat Sustainable?"

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