Showing posts with label soil. Show all posts
Showing posts with label soil. Show all posts

Animal Agribusiness Disorder

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

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

Air Pollution

Pandemics Ahead: Number 16 in a series looking at the link between animal protein and global health disasters.

Excerpt from Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming by Moses Seenarine, (2016). Xpyr Press, 348 pages. ISBN: 0692641157.

Animal-based agriculture can cause serious air quality problems that result from dust, smog, chemicals, and odors. People who live near or work on factory farms, breathe in numerous gases formed as manure decomposes. The stench of ammonia and other noxious fumes can be unbearable, but worse still, the gases contain many harmful chemicals.

The level of antibiotics 20 yards (18 m) away from a giant cattle feed-lot, is similar to an enclosed, industrial pig operation. Wind dispersed particulate matter from outdoor feed-lots carry prodigious amounts of antibiotics, antibiotic resistance genes, and bacteria, far downwind. Some of the transported bacteria can cause human infections.(1058) 

Working environments within many concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and stables remains largely uncontrolled. Endotoxin-contaminated organic dust present significant respiratory hazards for workers. Reaction to endotoxins can lead to anaphylactic shock and death. Exposure control to endotoxins, and prevention strategies for livestock workers are urgently required.(1059)

In addition to endotoxin hazard for workers, the dust generated by animal activity and farming practices contribute to air quality problems far removed from factory farms. These widely dispersed air pollutants can cause respiratory illness, lung inflammation, and enhanced weakness to respiratory diseases, such as asthma. Massive discharges of reactive organics and ammonia from CAFOs play a role in the formation of ozone (smog) and particulates in the air, as well.

Large hog farms emit hydrogen sulfide, a gas that most often causes flu-like symptoms in humans. At high concentrations, hydrogen sulfide can lead to brain damage, but this gas is dangerous even at low levels. Its effects, which are irreversible, range from mild, a sore throat, to severe with seizures, comas, and even death. In 1998, the National Institute of Health reported that 19 people died from hydrogen sulfide emissions from manure pits. 

Other common health effects associated with chemicals emanating from factory farms are headaches, shortness of breath, wheezing, excessive coughing, and diarrhea.

Chapter 28: HUMAN DISEASES, page 270.   Previous  |  Home  Next

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Cows and Sand

Cows and Sand: Effects of Livestock Overgrazing  
by Moses Seenarine 12/15/17

Worldwide, livestock overgrazing practices are substantially reducing many grasslands' performance as carbon sinks. Overgrazing occurs on 33% of all range-land, and often, marginal range-lands are used intensively when historically productive adjacent range has become overgrazed and unproductive. The cycle of overgrazing, soil degradation, topsoil erosion and loss of vegetation is rapidly expanding on all continents. 

The chief ecological impacts of overgrazing are (i) the loss of biodiversity, (ii) irreversible loss of topsoil, (iii) strengthening of turbidity in surface waters, and (iv) greater flooding frequency and intensity. Overgrazing of pastureland leads to a decrease in long-term grazing productivity. In Botswana, for example, farmers' common practice of overstocking cattle to cope with drought losses made ecosystems further vulnerable and risked long-term damage to herds by depleting scarce biomass. 

Globally, 70% of all grazing land in dry areas is considered degraded, mostly because of overgrazing, compaction and erosion attributable to livestock activity. Worldwide, overgrazing can be considered the major cause of desertification in arid dry-lands, tropical grasslands, and savannas. On top of that, in arid and semi-arid dry-lands around the globe, overgrazing is the major cause of desertification. 

Placement of high densities of livestock on a grassland removes biomass at a rapid rate, which produces a series of accompanying effects. For instance, (i) the residual plants decline in mass density, and (ii) surface water infiltration is reduced. Then (iii) there is a dwindling away of fungal biomass that relies on grasses. Ground surface temperatures rise, which exaggerates the amount of (iv) evaporation and (v) transpiration, and this leads to (vi) a build up in aridity. In addition, overgrazing has a characteristic effect of (vii) reducing root depths. With impeded water uptake from the soil, a positive feedback loop of growth retardation is established. 

At least 25% of the world's biodiversity lives underground where the earthworm is a giant alongside tiny organisms such as bacteria and fungi. These organisms act as the primary agents driving nutrient cycling, and they help plants by improving nutrient intake, which in turn supports above-ground biodiversity. 

Removing livestock, and better soil and land management that supports healthy soil organisms can boost the soil's ability to absorb carbon and mitigate desertification. This could result in greater quantities of carbon being sequestered, thus helping to offset agriculture's own emissions of GHGs. A four-year survey of the northern China plains concluded that by reducing grazing pressure to half can deliver improved ecosystem services like lower GHGs and improved grassland composition. Early summer rest maintained the best grassland composition. 

In the US, removing livestock from public lands would reduce CH4 discharges, with attendant benefits for climate mitigation. This climate action would also mirror federal nutrition policy, particularly the recommendation to eat less cow flesh. Much of the degraded environmental conditions on public lands and waters caused by grazing farm animals would end. This would enable improvement or even recovery of vulnerable areas. And, undertaking this policy shift makes fiscal sense by saving taxpayer dollars.

Excerpt from "Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming," by Dr. Moses Seenarine.

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