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Difference between revisions of "Draft:Environmental Impacts of Animal Agriculture"

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(Global Warming: 51% from Animal Ag?)
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== Advocacy ==
 
== Advocacy ==
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=== Global Warming: 51% from Animal Ag? ===
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A number of activists are using World Watch Institute's numbers in saying that animal agriculture is the number one cause of global warming, with it's reported 51% contribution. They are dismayed when public figures like Joaquin Phoenix, in high-publicity appearances, state that it's the third leading cause.
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Here's where "third leading" may come from: The UN revised their estimate for Animal Ag down from 18% to 14%. That puts power generation at #1 and transportation at #2, if you break it down that way. <ref>https://www.nrdc.org/stories/global-warming-101#causes)</ref> (Note that according to Mic the Vegan, the UN revised their estimates because of partnerships with animal ag.<ref>https://youtu.be/KpmTiHjUEBU starting at 3:30</ref>)
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Saying that animal agriculture is the leading cause seems to be contentious among scientists. The argument is still strong without using a contentious figure, which could, even if correct, undermine your credibility in the eyes of your audience. We believe the wording presented in the fact sheet below is a viable way to present this. It emphasizes that it's the leading cause for which we can take personal responsibility.
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<!-- I think both analyses include byproducts as well. The difference in numbers comes from the methodology. For instance Goodland and Anhang's paper accounts for the amount of greenhouse gases that would have otherwise been taken out of circulation if not for animal ag related deforestation. They also weight methane more heavily compared to CO2. So it's not exactly the total mass of all greenhouse gases but rather a weighted sum of their masses based on their potency for global warming. -->
  
 
== Fact Sheet ==
 
== Fact Sheet ==
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=== Land Surface and Biomass ===
 
=== Land Surface and Biomass ===
  
* Of the earth's agricultural land, 77% is used for meat and dairy supplying only 18 percent of our calories. Conversely, the 23% of agricultural land that is used for crops for human consumption supplies 83% of our calories. <ref>Ritchie, Hannah, and Max Roser. “Land Use.” Our World in Data, November 13, 2013. Accessed January 10, 2020. https://ourworldindata.org/land-use.</ref>
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* ''Our World in Data'' says that of the earth's agricultural land, 77% is used for meat and dairy supplying only 18 percent of our calories. Conversely, the 23% of agricultural land that is used for crops for human consumption supplies 83% of our calories This from Our World in Data. <ref>Ritchie, Hannah, and Max Roser. “Land Use.” Our World in Data, November 13, 2013. Accessed January 10, 2020. https://ourworldindata.org/land-use.</ref>
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* A 2018 study titled "The biomass distribution on Earth" concludes that for all mammals, biomass (weight) is distributed as follows: 60% livestock, 36% human, and 4% wild animals. The same study reported that of bird biomass, 70% is domesticated poultry and 30% is wild birds.<ref>Bar-On, Yinon M., Rob Phillips, and Ron Milo. “The Biomass Distribution on Earth.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115, no. 25 (June 19, 2018): 6506–11. Accessed January 15, 2010. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1711842115.</ref>
  
 
=== Global Warming ===
 
=== Global Warming ===
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=== Deforestation ===
 
=== Deforestation ===
  
* Seventy-five percent of deforestation in Brazil is due to the clearing land for cattle ranching. This was responsible for 50 percent of Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions from 2003-2008.<ref>Bustamante, Mercedes M. C., Carlos A. Nobre, Roberto Smeraldi, Ana P. D. Aguiar, Luis G. Barioni, Laerte G. Ferreira, Karla Longo, Peter May, Alexandre S. Pinto, and Jean P. H. B. Ometto. “Estimating Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Cattle Raising in Brazil.” Climatic Change 115, no. 3–4 (December 2012): 559–77. Accessed December 3 2019. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-012-0443-3.</ref> Forests are also cleared in order to grow crops, mainly to feed to livestock.<ref>“Plan B Updates - 86: Growing Demand for Soybeans Threatens Amazon Rainforest | EPI.” Accessed November 24, 2019. http://www.earth-policy.org/plan_b_updates/2009/update86.</ref>
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<!-- Seventy-five percent of deforestation in Brazil is due to the clearing land for cattle ranching. This was responsible for 50 percent of Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions from 2003-2008.<ref>Bustamante, Mercedes M. C., Carlos A. Nobre, Roberto Smeraldi, Ana P. D. Aguiar, Luis G. Barioni, Laerte G. Ferreira, Karla Longo, Peter May, Alexandre S. Pinto, and Jean P. H. B. Ometto. “Estimating Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Cattle Raising in Brazil.” Climatic Change 115, no. 3–4 (December 2012): 559–77. Accessed December 3 2019. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-012-0443-3.</ref> Forests are also cleared in order to grow crops, mainly to feed to livestock.<ref>“Plan B Updates - 86: Growing Demand for Soybeans Threatens Amazon Rainforest | EPI.” Accessed November 24, 2019. http://www.earth-policy.org/plan_b_updates/2009/update86.</ref> -->
  
 
=== Species Extinction ===
 
=== Species Extinction ===
  
* Animal agriculture, including the production of beef and dairy products, contributes to species extinction in many ways. These include:<ref name="lls" /> moss of habitat due to deforestation, he killing of predators to protect livestock, contamination of land and water by manure and pesticides/fertilizers (used to grow crops for livestock), uncreased global warming as some species are not able to adapt quickly enough to survive.
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<!-- Animal agriculture, including the production of beef and dairy products, contributes to species extinction in many ways. These include:<ref name="lls" /> moss of habitat due to deforestation, he killing of predators to protect livestock, contamination of land and water by manure and pesticides/fertilizers (used to grow crops for livestock), uncreased global warming as some species are not able to adapt quickly enough to survive. -->
  
 
=== Fish Depletion ===
 
=== Fish Depletion ===
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=== Eutrophication ===
 
=== Eutrophication ===
  
* On factory farms, animals produce huge quantities of waste in a comparatively small area. For example, a farm of 2500 dairy cows can produce as much waste as a city of 411,000 people.<ref>“Risk Assessment Evaluation for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.” United States Environmental Protection Agency, May 2004.</ref> This waste is dumped untreated into large "lagoons" or spread across nearby fields. When lagoons overflow or waste runs off the fields, it can contaminate waterways and may even flow as far as the ocean. Since manure is high in nitrogen, it can cause algae in the water to bloom and use up much of the available oxygen — a process known as eutrophication. This creates what is known as a nitrogen-flooded ocean dead zone, where it is difficult for anything else to survive.<ref name=":2" />
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<!--On factory farms, animals produce huge quantities of waste in a comparatively small area. For example, a farm of 2500 dairy cows can produce as much waste as a city of 411,000 people.<ref>“Risk Assessment Evaluation for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.” United States Environmental Protection Agency, May 2004.</ref> This waste is dumped untreated into large "lagoons" or spread across nearby fields. When lagoons overflow or waste runs off the fields, it can contaminate waterways and may even flow as far as the ocean. Since manure is high in nitrogen, it can cause algae in the water to bloom and use up much of the available oxygen — a process known as eutrophication. This creates what is known as a nitrogen-flooded ocean dead zone, where it is difficult for anything else to survive.<ref name=":2" /> -->
  
 
=== Water Pollution ===
 
=== Water Pollution ===
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=== Air Pollution ===
 
=== Air Pollution ===
  
* Beef production is hugely water-intensive, largely due to the amount of water required to grow the crops eaten by factory-farmed animals.<ref name="lls" /> Researchers suggest that at least 2,500 gallons of water are required to produce a single pound of beef, and the figure could be as high as over 11,300 gallons.<ref>Robbins, John. Diet for a New America. Tiburon, Calif: H J Kramer, 1998, 367.</ref><ref>Pimentel, David, Bonnie Berger, David Filiberto, Michelle Newton, Benjamin Wolfe, Elizabeth Karabinakis, Steven Clark, Elaine Poon, Elizabeth Abbett, and Sudha Nandagopal. “Water Resources: Agricultural and Environmental Issues.” BioScience 54, no. 10 (2004): 909. Accessed December 3 2019. https://doi.org/10.1641/0006-3568(2004)054[0909:WRAAEI]2.0.CO;2.</ref>
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<!-- Beef production is hugely water-intensive, largely due to the amount of water required to grow the crops eaten by factory-farmed animals.<ref name="lls" /> Researchers suggest that at least 2,500 gallons of water are required to produce a single pound of beef, and the figure could be as high as over 11,300 gallons.<ref>Robbins, John. Diet for a New America. Tiburon, Calif: H J Kramer, 1998, 367.</ref><ref>Pimentel, David, Bonnie Berger, David Filiberto, Michelle Newton, Benjamin Wolfe, Elizabeth Karabinakis, Steven Clark, Elaine Poon, Elizabeth Abbett, and Sudha Nandagopal. “Water Resources: Agricultural and Environmental Issues.” BioScience 54, no. 10 (2004): 909. Accessed December 3 2019. https://doi.org/10.1641/0006-3568(2004)054[0909:WRAAEI]2.0.CO;2.</ref> -->
  
 
== See Also ==
 
== See Also ==

Revision as of 16:09, 15 January 2020

Introduction

Advocacy

Global Warming: 51% from Animal Ag?

A number of activists are using World Watch Institute's numbers in saying that animal agriculture is the number one cause of global warming, with it's reported 51% contribution. They are dismayed when public figures like Joaquin Phoenix, in high-publicity appearances, state that it's the third leading cause.

Here's where "third leading" may come from: The UN revised their estimate for Animal Ag down from 18% to 14%. That puts power generation at #1 and transportation at #2, if you break it down that way. [1] (Note that according to Mic the Vegan, the UN revised their estimates because of partnerships with animal ag.[2])

Saying that animal agriculture is the leading cause seems to be contentious among scientists. The argument is still strong without using a contentious figure, which could, even if correct, undermine your credibility in the eyes of your audience. We believe the wording presented in the fact sheet below is a viable way to present this. It emphasizes that it's the leading cause for which we can take personal responsibility.


Fact Sheet

Scope of Harms

  • An article published in the Harvard Law Review article summarizes scientific findings, saying that "our demand for and reliance on animal products" is "a leading cause of everything: one industry that is destroying our planet and our ability to thrive on it." It connects animal agriculture with climate change. ocean dead zones. fisheries depletion. species extinction, deforestation, world hunger, food safety, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and says "the list goes on". [3]

Personal Responsibility

  • "A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet earth—it is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car...avoiding consumption of animal products delivers far better environmental benefits than trying to purchase sustainable meat and dairy.” So says Joseph Poore, who led the 2018 Oxford Study,[4] which was called the most comprehensive analysis to date of its kind."[5]
  • The Oxford Study found that moving to a diet that excludes animal products has transformative potential, including a 76% reduction in land use, a 49% reduction in greenhouse emissions from farming, a 50% reduction in ocean acidification, and a 49% reduction in eutrophication (excess runoff choking off oxygen and killing animals).[4]
  • Researchers from the University of Chicago determined that you reduce your personal contribution to global warming more by changing to a vegan diet than you do by switching to a Prius[6]
  • In 2017, over 15,000 scientists from 184 countries issued a "Warning to Humanity," promoting plant-based eating as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.[7]

Land Surface and Biomass

  • Our World in Data says that of the earth's agricultural land, 77% is used for meat and dairy supplying only 18 percent of our calories. Conversely, the 23% of agricultural land that is used for crops for human consumption supplies 83% of our calories This from Our World in Data. [8]
  • A 2018 study titled "The biomass distribution on Earth" concludes that for all mammals, biomass (weight) is distributed as follows: 60% livestock, 36% human, and 4% wild animals. The same study reported that of bird biomass, 70% is domesticated poultry and 30% is wild birds.[9]

Global Warming

  • A 2006 United Nations study titled Livestock's Long Shadow said that livestock accounts for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but a study by World Watch Institute three years later said the U.N. report failed to consider some of the factors, and put the figure at 51%.[10][11]
  • Even at the lower number of 18%, animal agriculture contributes more to global warming than all cars, trucks, trains, buses, airplanes, and ships combined—more than the entire transportation sector, which the EPA pegs at 14% globally.[12]

Deforestation

Species Extinction

Fish Depletion

Eutrophication

Water Pollution

Water Wastage

Air Pollution

See Also

Land Usage Chart from Our World in Data, summarized from UN Data

Plain Text

Meta

This fact sheet was originally authored by Greg Fuller. The contents may have been edited since that time by others.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.nrdc.org/stories/global-warming-101#causes)
  2. https://youtu.be/KpmTiHjUEBU starting at 3:30
  3. Harvard Environmental Law Review. “[ELRS] A Leading Cause of Everything: One Industry That Is Destroying Our Planet and Our Ability to Thrive on It,” October 26, 2015. Accessed January 10, 2020. https://harvardelr.com/2015/10/26/elrs-a-leading-cause-of-everything-one-industry-that-is-destroying-our-planet-and-our-ability-to-thrive-on-it/.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Poore, J., and T. Nemecek. “Reducing Food’s Environmental Impacts through Producers and Consumers.” Science 360, no. 6392 (June 1, 2018): 987–92. Accessed January 10, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aaq0216.
  5. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/31/avoiding-meat-and-dairy-is-single-biggest-way-to-reduce-your-impact-on-earth
  6. Gidon Eshel, and Pamela A. Martin. “Diet, Energy, and Global Warming.” Department of Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago, 2005. Accessed November 14, 2019. http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/EI167.1
  7. Ripple, William J., Christopher Wolf, Thomas M. Newsome, Mauro Galetti, Mohammed Alamgir, Eileen Crist, Mahmoud I. Mahmoud, William F. Laurance, and 15,364 scientist signatories from 184 countries. “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice.” BioScience 67, no. 12 (December 1, 2017): 1026–28. Accessed December 3 2019. https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/bix125.
  8. Ritchie, Hannah, and Max Roser. “Land Use.” Our World in Data, November 13, 2013. Accessed January 10, 2020. https://ourworldindata.org/land-use.
  9. Bar-On, Yinon M., Rob Phillips, and Ron Milo. “The Biomass Distribution on Earth.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115, no. 25 (June 19, 2018): 6506–11. Accessed January 15, 2010. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1711842115.
  10. Steinfeld, Henning, Pierre Gerber, T. D. Wassenaar, Vincent Castel, Mauricio Rosales M. , and Cees de Haan. Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2006.
  11. Goodland, R, and J Anhang. “ Livestock and Climate Change: What If the Key Actors in Climate Change Are... Cows, Pigs, and Chickens?” Washington: Worldwatch Institute, 2009.
  12. US EPA, OAR. “Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data.” Overviews and Factsheets. US EPA, January 12, 2016. Accessed December 3 2019. https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data.
  13. Skeptical Science. “How Much Does Animal Agriculture and Eating Meat Contribute to Global Warming?” Accessed January 10, 2020. https://skepticalscience.com/animal-agriculture-meat-global-warming.htm.