Without using any gas, oil or fuel from today forward, we would still exceed the maximum carbon equivalent for greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2030, purely because of our raising of livestock. We are seeing the largest mass extinction in 65 million years and the Rainforest is being cut down at a rate of an acre per second due to the needs fueled by animal agriculture (Cowspiracy).
The numbers and statistics only get more terrifying from there. And yet, people remain gravely unaware of the facts. The plain truth is that Animal Agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gases than all forms of transportation (plane, boat, car and train) combined (Fao.org).
But that’s not all. Not only is Animal Agriculture responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, it is also one of the leading consumers of our natural resources – such as water and grain. In fact, agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of all US water consumption (USDA). Therefore, sustainability is a huge issue when it comes to animal agriculture.
Many people misinterpret how much water is on this planet. While 70% of Earth may be water, only 2.5% of that is freshwater. 70% of that freshwater is frozen in our planet’s ice caps and the rest is primarily found as moisture in soil.
This leaves less than 1% of Earth’s water for direct human use (GlobalChange). And almost all of that water goes directly to the animal agriculture industry.
Think about this:
A cow will generally drink 5 to 7 gallons of water per day in 50 degree temperatures. That same cow may drink up to 25 gallons per day when the weather reaches into the 90’s. And that’s just one cow. There are currently 98.4 million cows in the united states used for animal agriculture (Quora.com).
And that’s just cows. There are also approximately 67 million pigs (PorkFacts), 9 million sheep and goats (Farm and Ranch Guide), and 9 billion birds for poultry (USDA) all of which must be sustained.
In addition, water is not only needed to keep these animals hydrated, it is also needed to grow their feed and water their pastures. It requires 12.991 trillion liters of water per year for crop irrigation to feed cattle alone. It requires an additional 11.243 trillion L of water per year for their pasture irrigation (Journal of Animal Science).
In the end, one pound of beef requires between 2,500 and 5,000 gallons of water to produce.
1 lb of eggs = 477 – 573 gallons of water
1 lb of cheese = 896 gallons of water
1 lb of chicken = 469 – 815 gallons of water
1 lb of pork = 1630 gallons of water
1 lb of lettuce = 15 gallons of water
1 lb of tomatoes = 22 gallons of water
Even more listings can be found at TreeHugger.com
What is most frustrating about all of this is that many of the world’s most powerful environmental agencies are refusing to speak out about this issue. Rather, they are suggesting to save water by taking shorter showers, flushing the toilet less often and other such minimal changes.
But water usage in homes is responsible for only 5% of the water consumption in the United States (Jacobson) and, remember, Animal Agriculture is responsible for 80-90%.
What seems the most concerning is that the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s website, “WaterSense,” says absolutely nothing about these problems.
In the end, it is simply unavoidable. Leading a plant-based, vegan lifestyle can save an astronomical amount of Earth’s usable water. It may, in fact, be the only option if we want to see a future for our children and our children’s children.
At least ⅓ of our planet’s land is used for Animal Agriculture (FAO Newsroom). Though, other sources place this as high as 45% of our planet’s land. And that number is only increasing as natural lands across the globe, most prominently the Rainforests in Brazil, are being cut down at rates as high as an acre a second.
Because of the overgrazing of land by cattle, Animal Agriculture is the leading driver for the desertification of Earth’s land. This desertification has grown to affect one third of our planet (United Nations).
In addition, the destruction being see in the Rainforest is due 91% to Animal Agriculture (Margulis). These natural wonders are being cleared at a rate of up to 1 – 2 acres per second to clear land for animal grazing.
Additional Damage to Our Planet
But land, water and greenhouse gases are just the beginning of Animal Agriculture’s negative effect on our planet.
It is also responsible for an unbelievable amount of waste. In fact, every minute 7 million pounds of excrement are produced by animals that are being raised for food – in the United States alone. The waste produced by one cow each day is equivalent to that of 20 – 40 people (EPA).
The fishing industries are responsible for an enormous amount of species extinctions in our world’s oceans. Every one pound of a particular species that is caught, five pounds of unwanted species are caught and discarded. And because of this process, over 70% of the oceans have been depleted and exploited (FAO). By the year 2048, we may be seeing fishless oceans (Roach).
But, what may be the most worrisome thing of all (as mentioned in the beginning of this article) is that due to the land destruction, over fishing, water consumption and global pollution created by the Animal Agriculture Industry, we are facing the largest mass extinction in 65 million years and something must be done.