This is somewhat of a more serious and off topic blog post but a necessary one. I have just finished watching a documentary called “Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret” (2014) and it was quite eye opening for me. Co-Director and Narrator of the film, Kip Anderson, does an incredible job of bringing to light an apparently very controversial subject that the government has no interest in speaking about. This film is about how the number one leading cause of destruction of our planet and global warming is none other than animal agriculture. That’s right, its not the usual things that we have always been told: oil fracking, burning of fossil fuels, pollution from runoff or dumping, mining, etc. While all of those things are still to blame for some damage the real culprit is the fact that the United States raises 92 million heads of cattle a year.
All of the farm raised cattle in the world accounts for 51% of all greenhouse gas emissions that are currently causing global warming. Compared to transportation in the world, that only accounts for 13% of greenhouse gas emissions. That means that raising livestock accounts for 38% more emissions than every car, truck, boat, train, or plane combined. Yet everyone is telling us to ride our bikes to work instead of driving and to carpool places. The problem is that cattle produces a substantial amount of methane gas from their digestive system and methane gas is 25 to 100 times more destructive to the environment than carbon dioxide emitted by cars.
The newest environmental problem: oil and natural gas fracking. This has environmentalists on edge because the process uses 100 billion gallons of water a year. But what we should be more concerned about is the fact that raising livestock uses 34 trillion gallons of water a year. That is a huge difference.
Raising livestock has caused every single known environmental ailment: land use, water scarcity (the animal agriculture industry uses 1/3 of the Earth’s fresh water supply), deforestation, destabilization of communities, world hunger, animal extinction, ocean dead zones, etc.
Just a mere 10,000 years ago (not a long period of time when you think about how long the Earth has existed) free living animals made up 99% while humans made up 1% of the Earth’s biomass. But today, free living animals make up 2% while humans and our animals we own as ‘property’ make up 98% of the Earth’s biomass. It’s amazing how the tables have turned.
91% of the entire Amazon rain-forest has been destroyed. Most of this land has been used to raise livestock. It is said that one acre of the Amazon rain-forest is cleared every second. 136 acres in total rain-forests have been cleared for cattle raising. All of these devastating facts and the leading environmental protection organizations haven’t said a word about this problem. That is because they are like businesses: most of them have members that join and give money to the organization and are used in political tactics by politicians in order to gain more members. If they were to be advertising for people to become vegan and stop consuming all meats and animal products they would lose popularity and funding. It’s as if this is a game we are playing with the life of our home planet hanging in the balance.
Raising livestock has also created more than 500 dead zones due to nitrogen across the Earth’s oceans. Dead zones are areas in bodies of water that have been so heavily nutrient polluted that the oxygen in the water has been depleted to a point that no marine life can survive there. That’s 95,000 square miles of ocean that can no longer be a habitat for life. Lisa Agabian from Sea Shepherd Conservation Society says that we could begin to see oceans devoid of fish as early as the year 2048 at the rate that we are going from over-fishing. More than 40 to 50 million sharks are killed ‘accidentally’ in the process of catching fish in fishing nets for human consumption as well.
One of the most devastating facts I have to share with you is that over 1100 environmental activists have been killed in the last 20 years in Brazil, mostly by gunmen hired by the cattle industry. Ranchers of cattle that have problems with predators like coyotes and wolves can just as easily call the USDA and they will have someone fly in near the ranch and kill the wild animals. All to protect their precious money makers.
Nearing the end of this documentary I couldn’t help but become angry. Because most every person that was interviewed for this film worked for the agriculture industry, the government, environmental protection agencies, etc. were lying to the world. Not one person could flat out tell Kip Anderson that livestock raising was the leading cause of environmental production on this planet and some even lied to him about certain factual information. Such as Emily Meredith, the President and CEO of Animal Agriculture Alliance, a pro-livestock lobbying group (one of the largest) who stated in her interview that conditions for raising animals for meat and animal products has greatly improved over the years. None of you listen to her false words. Most animals raised on factory farms are shoved into such close space environments they can barely move. They are then punched full of antibiotics to make them grow at an unnaturally fast rate. Just so that they can be packaged into styrofoam and plastic wrap and on our dinner tables quicker while we are left poorer and the agriculture industry richer in the process. She says that we have created and used more advanced technology to improve food safety and animal well-being but all we’ve done with this ‘advanced technology’ is farm more livestock at one time and quicken the process of getting them ready for slaughter so that the industry can make a larger profit.
I have identified the real culprit of all of our worldly problems…it’s ourselves. We have gone from being one percent of the world’s biomass to completely dominating all life on Earth. We are at the top of the food chain, we have no predators that balance us in the ecosystem. There is nothing to keep us from overpopulating like there is every other species on Earth, therefore we think we own the place. But we don’t. We have unfortunately evolved into a species that takes everything we are given for granted and instead of using the Earth the way it should be we use technology that destroys the Earth to do everything faster and more efficiently (basically because when it comes to most things we are extremely lazy). Maybe if we didn’t have 7 billion people inhabiting the Earth we wouldn’t need to feed that many people with meat as our main source of protein. And I will quickly mention that red meat from cattle is a highly fatty food choice and would be beneficial for your health to cut out anyways 🙂
Now I’m not saying that every single person that reads this needs to instantly become a vegan and cut out all meats and animal products from their diet because I know most of you probably won’t (although congrats to you if you so chose to). But I am giving you something to think about. Take a look at the way that you live, what all you do everyday, what would your carbon footprint be? What do you do to contribute to Earth’s destruction? But more importantly what can you do to save our planet so that the next generations have a place to thrive? Stop taking literally the only planet in the entire universe that we know of that can sustain human life for granted. This is our only home, the only place with everything that we need to survive and we are killing it. God created this planet just for us, help his gift survive. And don’t be fooled by what others tell you, we are much more dangerous beings than we think.
I encourage you all to watch the full documentary, it is worth your time.
And for those awesome people who after reading this want to change their lifestyle and are going to college like me, take a quick look at these tips!