Meat Society: Number 8 in a series exploring issues related to curbing demand for animal products, an important climate change solution for individuals and nations alike, especially in Western states where meat and diary consumption dwarfs other regions.
Excerpt from Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming by Moses Seenarine, (2016). Xpyr Press, 348 pages ISBN: 0692641157 http://amzn.to/2yn7XrC
In addition to greenhouse gases (GHGs), there are dozens of grave concerns regarding livestock production. These concerns, listed below, are consequential and must be addressed. On top of that, they potently relate to climate warming since they often generate GHG pollution. For instance, rural displacement may stimulate increase of carbon footprints through migration to urban areas and adoption of animal-based diets.
Food animal production negatively impacts the following 19 areas: (1) the loss of forest and earth's sequestration capacity. This acerbates (2) resource scarcity, and (3) soil loss which is critical to food security. (4) The animal industry's water-use threatens food supply, security and human welfare. Factory farms are the number one consumer of water in drought-stricken California, for example.
(5) There is the moral issue of wasting calories. With a billion and upwards malnourished people, the production of animal protein is far less efficient than producing equivalent amounts of plant protein. (6) Particularly troubling is the trend toward greater intensification and industrial production methods without regard to animal welfare. Animal factory farming is a new phenomenon that has established itself as the predominant mode of food animal production.
(7) Another worry is the consolidation of ownership and the enormous power wielded by multinational trading companies over local and national governments. This unequal power impacts negatively on democracy, local control, accountability and oversight, sustainability disclosure, corporate governance, and policy changes.
(8) There are massive and widespread problems with land rights, rural unemployment, displacement, violence, inequality, poor working conditions, and other forms of exploitation related to the sector. (9) Another major concern is that vast numbers of livestock and feed crops are often located in remote areas with severe effects on the environment, such as deforestation and land degradation, that is causing a rapid loss of biodiversity.
(10) Food animal production is often located close to cities or ports, where insufficient land is available for processing the waste. This leads to soil, air and water pollution, which cause humans and animals to become prone to ill-health and disease. (11) Factory farming is the number one user of antibiotics in the US, up to 80 percent. This is causing bacterial resistance which defeats the use of these lifesaving drugs.
(12) Another anxiety is that factory farms are inevitably breeding dangerous new strains of bacteria. Factory farming is the number one reason for the rapid spread of bird flu (H5N2) and swine flu (H1N1). (13) A further concern relates to health effects of genetically modified crops, and residues from herbicides, like glyphosate.
(14) Stagnating crop yields is an immense worry. (15) So too are the effects of climate change, such as heat stress and disease, on the production and efficiency of food animals. And, (16) livestock over-consumption, and the effects of an animal-based diet on human health, are immense causes for concern as well.
(17) Nutrient flows in the earth system are instrumental to food security and short-term GHG discharges. Some scenarios project that by 2050 global crops will expand by 82 percent, and livestock production will soar upwards 115 percent from 2000 levels. This massive addition in nutrient pollution, land and water requirements will lead to intensifying global hunger, resource conflicts, and refugee crises.
In addition, (18) there is a multiplicity of concerns regarding dependency, distribution and corruption in the food supply. And, (19) a trend towards eating processed, animal-based foods produced in a different country multiplies GHG emissions per gram, and makes monitoring countries’ individual GHG pollution far trickier. These concerns, as well as others, present troubling perplexities for creating a just and sustainable food production system.
From Chapter 11: WHAT CRISIS? page 112