Since as long as I can remember, I was taught that transportation, littering and smoking were the top killers of our planet, I was never told to look at my plate. Now I know that animal agriculture is the leading cause of climate change that kills not only the earth, but animals and people as well.
Here are a few facts straight from cowspiracy:
Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation (which account for 13%)
Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions (x) (x)
Methane is 25-100 times more destructive than CO2 on a 20 year time frame.
Methane has a global warming potential 86 times that of CO2 on a 20 year time frame. (PDF)
Livestock is responsible for 65% of all human-related emissions of nitrous oxide – a greenhouse gas with 296 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, and which stays in the atmosphere for 150 years.
Emissions for agriculture projected to increase 80% by 2050.
Energy related emissions expected to increase 20% by 2040. (x)
US Methane emissions from livestock and natural gas are nearly equal.
Cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane per day.
* 250-500 liters per cow per day, x 1.5 billion cows globally is 99 – 198.1 billion gallons. Rough average of 150 billion gallons CH4 globally per day.
Converting to wind and solar power will take 20+ years and roughly 43 trillion dollars.
Even without fossil fuels, we will exceed our 565 gigatonnes CO2e limit by 2030, all from raising animals.
Reducing methane emissions would create tangible benefits almost immediately.
Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) water use ranges from 70-140 billion gallons annually.
Animal agriculture water consumption ranges from 34-76 trillion gallons annually. (x)
Agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of US water consumption.
Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of water in the US.
Californians use 1500 gallons of water per person per day. Close to Half is associated with meat and dairy products.
442-8,000 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef.
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477 gallons of water are required to produce 1lb. of eggs; almost 900 gallons of water are needed for 1lb. of cheese.
1,000 gallons of water are required to produce 1 gallon of milk. (x)
5% of water consumed in the US is by private homes. 55% of water consumed in the US is for animal agriculture.
Animal Agriculture is responsible for 20%-33% of all fresh water consumption in the world today.
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Livestock or livestock feed occupies 1/3 of the earth’s ice-free land.
Livestock covers 45% of the earth’s total land. (x)
Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.
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Animal agriculture contributes to species extinction in many ways. In addition to the monumental habitat destruction caused by clearing forests and converting land to grow feed crops and for animal grazing, predators and “competition” species are frequently targeted and hunted because of a perceived threat to livestock profits. The widespread use of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers used in the production of feed crops often interferes with the reproductive systems of animals and poison waterways. The overexploitation of wild species through commercial fishing, bushmeat trade as well as animal agriculture’s impact on climate change, all contribute to global depletion of species and resources.
Livestock operations on land have created more than 500 nitrogen flooded deadzones around the world in our oceans. (x)
Largest mass extinction in 65 million years. (x) (x)
Nearly half of the contiguous US is devoted to animal agriculture. (x) (x) (x)
* The US lower 48 states represents 1.9 billion acres. Of that 1.9 billion acres: 778 million acres of private land are used for livestock grazing (forest grazing, pasture grazing, and crop grazing), 345 million acres for feed crops, 230 million acres of public land are used for grazing livestock.
1/3 of the planet is desertified, with livestock as the leading driver.
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A farm with 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000 people.
Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction. (x) (x)
1-2 acres of rainforest are cleared every second. (x) (x) (x)
The leading causes of rainforest destruction are livestock and feedcrops.
Up to 137 plant, animal and insect species are lost every day due to rainforest destruction. (x) (x) (x) (x)
26 million rainforest acres (10.8m hectares) have been cleared for palm oil production.
136 million rainforest acres cleared for animal agriculture. (x)
1,100 Land activists have been killed in Brazil in the past 20 years. (x)
USDA predator killing of wild animals to protect livestock.
Washington state killed the wedge pack of wolves.
Ten thousand years ago, 99% of biomass (i.e. zoomass) was wild animals. Today, humans and the animals that we raise as food make up 98% of the zoomass. (x) (x)
((READ ABOUT THE FISH CRISIS))
Overgrazing is blamed for 35% of soil degradation, deforestation for 30%, and agriculture for 27%. These main causes are directly or indirectly related to the consumption of animal products.
Studies indicate that a varied vegan diet requires about a third of the land needed for conventional Western diets. We do not have enough land to feed everyone on an animal-based diet.
Studies confirm increasing population must abandon meat by 2050
Environmental Impact of a Vegan vs. Conventional Diets (PDF file)
If Britain went vegetarian, less than half the farm land would be needed– vegan, less than a quarter
It takes 50,000 litres of water to produce one kilo of beef.
Greenhouse gas from livestock is 50% more than transport: planes, trains, trucks, cars, and ships