Environmental damage and climate change
Hi there. I'm submitting this for my English class assignment, but this is a topic that I am very passionate about. Many people are becoming increasingly aware of the current state of the environment, as well as more conscious of how they affect it. Let's discuss the largest contributor to climate change, deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, and overuse of natural resources, and what we can do to eliminate it. I appreciate you taking the time to review my work and I hope you enjoy reading about the dangers of factory farming.
Environmental damage and climate change is something that affects everyone. What causes it? Could we be mostly to blame? By looking at various environmental studies, one can clearly see that most of the environmental damage the earth sustains comes directly from factory farming and animal agriculture. Extensive research has been conducted on the relation between factory farming and environmental ruin. All studies point to the fact that animal agriculture is responsible for most of the environmental damage and climate change taking place on earth, such as greenhouse gas emissions, the overuse of land, water, grains and soy, and the pollution of freshwater: and by the masses no longer purchasing animal products anymore, the extreme levels of pollution cease.
Greenhouse gas emissions, such as methane, nitrous oxide, ammonia, and carbon dioxide are being emitted by factory farms at dangerous levels. Methane, for example, is being emitted at outrageous levels coming directly from factory farming. The most obvious example of this is how cows that are factory farmed alone produce 150 billion gallons of methane per day (Ross 2013). Many times, people assume that most of the environmental footprint humans leave comes in the form of transportation exhaust. The truth is U.S. methane emissions from livestock and natural gas are nearly equal ("Overview of Greenhouse Gasses"). On a 20-year time frame, methane has a global warming potential so great, it is 86 times that of carbon dioxide (Shindell 2009). Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions which is more than all forms of transportation combined (Livestock's Long Shadow: environmental issues and options). Exhaust from transportation is responsible for 13% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the world (Livestock's Long Shadow: environmental issues and options). Livestock and animal products are responsible for 51% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the world (Hickman 2009).
The use, and pollution, of freshwater is a major downside to the existence of the animal agriculture industry. Factory farming uses up most of the land and freshwater on earth to produce animal products. Agriculture is responsible for 80-90 percent of all water consumption in the United States ("How Important is Irrigation to U.S. Agriculture?"). 56 percent of all water in the U.S. goes to growing feed crops that are used to feed livestock (Jacobson 2006). Animal agriculture uses about 34-76 trillion gallons of water every year (Pimentel, et al. 2004). Hydraulic fracturing uses anywhere from 70 to 140 billion gallons of water every year (Geetanjali, et al. 2015). Animal agriculture alone covers nearly half of all land on earth. Livestock and land used to grow feed for livestock takes up 1/3rd of the ice-free land on earth (Walsh 2013). 45% of all land on earth is occupied by livestock (Thornton, et al. 2011).
Another issue that animal agriculture poses is the role it plays in terms of species going extinct and its production of waste. It is truly amazing how waste can affect the earth in such a variety of ways when its being produced on a mass scale. Factory farming is the largest factor in species extinction, waste production, water pollution, ocean dead zones, and habitat destruction, which is, ultimately, the result of billions of animals producing an inordinate amount of waste. This can, and does, lead to the destruction of habitats and ocean cultures. As a matter of fact, the livestock industry is responsible for ocean dead zones all around the world. More than 500 nitrogen flooded dead zones around the world have been created solely by livestock (Zielinski 2014). Animals are also being caught in the crossfire of this animal agriculture madness. The earth is currently facing its largest mass extinction in 65 million years (Eldredge 2001). Knowing this, it shouldn't be surprising that more wasted is generated from animal agriculture than humans. To put this into perspective, 2,500 dairy cows produce the same amount of waste as a city with a population of 411,000 people ( "Risk Assessment Evaluation for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations" 2004). Essentially, 7 million pounds of excrement and waste are produced by animals in factory farming in the United States every minute ("Agricultural Waste Management Field Handbook"). This is outrageously dangerous to the ecosystem as well as the environment itself.
Now it is time to analyze the situation and think about how to fix this problem of excessive environmental damage coming from factory farms. The only reason these massive factories exist is because the demand for their products is astronomical. If the demand goes down, so does the supply. It would be pointless to continue producing a product that is not being sold. This means that if people decided to use environmentally safe alternatives to all animal products, most of the active environmental damage currently taking place would cease to exist. This would greatly improve the chances of the earth lasting for many years to come. If action is not taken, however, there may be no second chances. The earth is not projected to exist in a livable state for much longer if current environmental damage trends continue as they have. That is why it is up to the people to take matters into their own hands. This information needs to reach more individuals, especially those who are open-minded and want to make a positive difference in the world.
Animal agriculture has proven to be largely ruinous to the earth. This degeneration of the environment is clearly displayed in many ways. As a matter of fact, this topic goes deeper than what was covered in this research paper. There are numerous angles to study when it comes to the ways that animal agriculture negatively affects people, the environment the animals, and the world in general. Greenhouse gas emissions, the overuse of land, water, grains and soy, deforestation, ocean dead zones, and the pollution of freshwater are all results that come from the production of animal foods through the use of factory farms, and if the majority of the population were to stop purchasing products made from animals, the environmental damage's largest contributor - animal agriculture and factory farming - would be eradicated.
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Livestock's Long Shadow: environmental issues and options. FAO.
Hickman, Martin. Study claims meat creates half of all greenhouse gases. Independent.
How Important is Irrigation to U.S. Agriculture? USDA: Economic Research Service.
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