QUICK FACTS ON AGRIBUSINESS AND THE POLLUTANTS IT CONTRIBUTES TO CLIMATE DESTABILIZATION. IS AGRIBUSINESS THE SINGLE BIGGEST CAUSE OF GLOBAL WARMING? YOU BE THE JUDGE!

Changing our diets may be the single most powerful individual action we can do to slow global warming and climate destabilization --- BY FAR!

It now appears to our organization that eating less animal and dairy products is far, far, far more effective than all of the other things COMBINED that environmental groups have been telling us to do to reduce our personal carbon footprints. So much so, that we had to come out to our members and readers and ask them to read over the information below.

If after reading this blog post you do decide to change your diet (as our own executive director has recently done,) we strongly recommend that you first read the book "Eat to Live" by Dr Furhman. This way you get all of the health advantages and "best practice" strategies for doing so as well. We also strongly recommend that you see the movie documentary Cowspiracy. (Showing locations and how to get your copy is found at http://www.cowspiracy.com/

The Key Facts and Research on Global Agribusiness to Consider When Contemplating How you Can Effectively Help Slow Climate Destabilization:

1.) The World population in 1812: 1 billion; 1912: 1.5 billion; 2012: 7 billion.

“Human numbers through time.” Nova science programming.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/worldbalance/numb-nf.html

2.) 70 billion farmed animals are reared annually worldwide. More than 6 million animals are killed for food every hour.

A well-fed world. factory farms.

http://www.awfw.org/factory-farms/

Oppenlander, Richard A. Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.

3.) Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than all transportation combined. [i]

Fao.org. Spotlight: Livestock impacts on the environment.

http://www.fao.org/ag/magazine/0612sp1.htm

4.) Transportation is responsible for 13% of all greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenhouse gas emissions from this sector primarily involve fossil fuels burned for road, rail, air, and marine transportation.

Environmental Protection Agency. “Global Emissions.”

http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/global.html

5.) Livestock when you add in all of their total byproducts actually account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. (This is more than the whole fossil fuel industry at an estimated 40%.)

Goodland, R Anhang, J. “Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change were pigs, chickens and cows?”

WorldWatch, November/December 2009. Worldwatch Institute, Washington, DC, USA. Pp. 10–19.

http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6294

6.) Methane from cow farts is 25-100 times more destructive than CO2.

“Improved Attribution of Climate Forcing to Emissions.” Science Magazine.

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/326/5953/716.figures-only

7.) Methane has a global warming power 86 times that of CO2.

NASA. “Methane: Its Role as a Greenhouse Gas.” Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/education/pdfs/podest_ghg.pdf

8.) Livestock is responsible for 65% of all emissions of nitrous oxide – a greenhouse gas which is 296x more destructive than carbon dioxide and which stays in the atmosphere for 150 years.

“Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2006.

http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00.htm

9.) Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) water use ranges from 70-140 billion gallons annually.

“Draft Plan to Study the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources.” EPA Office of Research and Development. United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2011.

http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/documents/HFStudyPlanDraft_SAB_020711.pdf

10.) Animal agriculture use ranges from 34-76 trillion gallons of water annually. [ii]

Pimentel, David, et al. “Water Resources: Agricultural And Environmental Issues.” BioScience 54, no. 10 (2004): 909-18.

http://bioscience.oxfordjournals.org/content/54/10/909.full

Barber, N.L., “Summary of estimated water use in the United States in 2005: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2009–3098.”

http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2009/3098/

11.) Agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of US water consumption.

“USDA ERS – Irrigation & Water Use.” United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. 2013.

http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/farm-practices-management/irrigation-water-use/background.aspx

12.) Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of all water use in the US.

Jacobson, Michael F. “More and Cleaner Water.” In Six Arguments for a Greener Diet: How a More Plant-based Diet Could save Your Health and the Environment.
Washington, DC: Center for Science in the Public Interest, 2006.

http://www.cspinet.org/EatingGreen/pdf/arguments4.pdf

13.) One hamburger requires 660 gallons of water to produce – the equivalent of 2 months’ worth of showers. [iii]

Catanese, Christina. “Virtual Water, Real Impacts.” Greenversations: Official Blog of the U.S. EPA. 2012.

http://blog.epa.gov/healthywaters/2012/03/virtual-water-real-impacts-world-water-day-2012/

“50 Ways to Save Your River.” Friends of the River.

http://www.friendsoftheriver.org/site/PageServer?pagename=50ways

14.) 2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef.

Robbins, John. “2,500 Gallons, All Wet?” EarthSave

http://www.earthsave.org/environment/water.htm

Meateater’s Guide to Climate Change & Health.” Environmental Working Group.

http://www.ewg.org/meateatersguide/interactive-graphic/water/

“Water Footprint Assessment.” University of Twente, the Netherlands.

http://www.waterfootprint.org

Oppenlander, Richard A. Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. Minneapolis, MN: Langdon Street, 2013. Print

15.) 477 gallons of water are required to produce 1 pound of eggs; 900 gallons of water are needed for cheese.

“Meateater’s Guide to Climate Change & Health.” Environmental Working Group.

http://www.ewg.org/meateatersguide/interactive-graphic/water/

16.) 1,000 gallons of water are required to produce 1 gallon of milk.

“Water trivia facts.” United States Environmental Protection Agency.

http://water.epa.gov/learn/kids/drinkingwater/water_trivia_facts.cfm#_edn11

17.) 5% of water in the US is used by private homes.
55% of water in the US is used for animal agriculture.

Jacobson, Michael F. “More and Cleaner Water.” In Six Arguments for a Greener Diet: How a More Plant-based Diet Could save Your Health and the Environment. Washington, DC: Center for Science in the Public Interest, 2006.

http://www.cspinet.org/EatingGreen/pdf/arguments4.pdf

Oppenlander, Richard A. Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. Minneapolis, MN: Langdon Street, 2013. Print.

18.) The meat and dairy industries combined use nearly 1/3 (29%) of all the fresh water in the world today.

“Freshwater Abuse and Loss: Where Is It All Going?” Forks Over Knives.

http://www.forksoverknives.com/freshwater-abuse-and-loss-where-is-it-all-go

19.) Livestock covers 45% of the earth’s total land.

Thornton, Phillip, Mario Herrero, and Polly Ericksen. “Livestock and Climate Change.” Livestock Exchange, no. 3 (2011).

https://cgspace.cgiar.org/bitstream/handle/10568/10601/IssueBrief3.pdf

20.) Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution [iv], and habitat destruction.

Oppenlander, Richard A. Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. . Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.

“What’s the Problem?” United States Environmental Protection Agency.

http://www.epa.gov/region9/animalwaste/problem.html

“Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2006.

http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00.htm

“Fire Up the Grill for a Mouthwatering Red, White, and Green July 4th.” Worldwatch Institute.

http://www.worldwatch.org/fire-grill-mouthwatering-red-white-and-green-july-4th

Oppenlander, Richard A. “Biodiversity and Food Choice: A Clarification.” Comfortably Unaware. 2012

http://comfortablyunaware.com/blog/biodiversity-and-food-choice-a-clarification/

“Risk Assessment Evaluation for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Office of Research and Development. 2004.

http://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPURL.cgi?Dockey=901V0100.txt

21.) Every minute, 7 million pounds of excrement are produced by animals raised for food in the US.
This doesn’t include the animals raised outside of USDA jurisdiction or in backyards, or the billions of fish raised in aquaculture settings in the US. [v]

“What’s the Problem?” United States Environmental Protection Agency.

http://www.epa.gov/region9/animalwaste/problem.html

“How To Manage Manure.” Healthy Landscapes.

http://www.uri.edu/ce/healthylandscapes/livestock/how_manure_overall.htm

335 million tons of “dry matter” is produced annually by livestock in the US.

“FY-2005 Annual Report Manure and Byproduct Utilization National Program 206.”
USDA Agricultural Research Service. 2008.

http://www.ars.usda.gov/research/programs/programs.htm?np_code=206&docid=13337

22.) A farm with 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000 people. [vi]

“Risk Assessment Evaluation for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Office of Research and Development. 2004.

http://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPURL.cgi?Dockey=901V0100.txt

23.) Animal agriculture is responsible for 91% of Amazon destruction.

Oppenlander, Richard A. Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. . Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.

Margulis, Sergio. Causes of Deforestation of the Brazilian Rainforest. Washington: World Bank Publications, 2003.

https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/15060

24.) 1-2 acres of rainforest are cleared every second.

“Avoiding Unsustainable Rainforest Wood.” Rainforest Relief.

http://www.rainforestrelief.org/What_to_Avoid_and_Alternatives/Rainforest_Wood.html

Facts about the rainforest.

http://www.savetherainforest.org/savetherainforest_007.htm

Rainforest facts.

http://www.rain-tree.com/facts.htm

25.) The leading causes of rainforest destruction are livestock and feedcrops.

“Livestock impacts on the environment.” Food and agriculture organization of the United Nations (fao). 2006.

http://www.fao.org/ag/magazine/0612sp1.htm

26.) 110 plant, animal and insect species are lost every day due to rainforest destruction.

“Rainforest statistics and facts.” Save the amazon.

http://www.savetheamazon.org/rainforeststats.htm

Oppenlander, Richard A. Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. Minneapolis, MN: Langdon Street, 2013. Print.

27.) 26 million rainforest acres have been cleared for palm oil production. [ix]

“Indonesia: palm oil expansion unaffected by forest moratorium.” USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. 2013.

http://www.pecad.fas.usda.gov/highlights/2013/06/indonesia/

28.) 136 million rainforest acres cleared for animal agriculture.

“AMAZON DESTRUCTION.” MONGA BAY.

http://rainforests.mongabay.com/amazon/amazon_destruction.html

29.) 1,100 activists have been killed in Brazil in the past 20 years. [x]

Batty, David. “Brazilian faces retrial over murder of environmental activist nun in Amazon.” The Guardian. 2009.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/apr/08/brazilian-murder-dorothy-stang

30.) Cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane per day. [xi]

Ross, Philip. “Cow farts have ‘larger greenhouse gas impact’ than previously thought; methane pushes climate change.” International Business Times. 2013.

http://www.ibtimes.com/cow-farts-have-larger-greenhouse-gas-impact-previously-thought-methane-pushes-climate-change-1487502

31.) 130 times more animal waste than human waste is produced in the US – 1.4 billion tons from the meat industry annually. 5 tons of animal waste is produced for every person. [xii]

Animal agriculture: waste management practices. United States General Accounting Office.

http://www.gao.gov/archive/1999/rc99205.pdf

32.) 2-5 acres of land are used per cow.

Oppenlander, Richard A. Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. 

Minneapolis, MN: Langdon Street, 2013. Print.

33.) The average American consumes 209 pounds of meat per year.

Haney, Shaun. “How much do we eat?” Real agriculture. 2012. (276 lbs)

http://www.realagriculture.com/2012/05/how-much-meat-do-we-eat/

“US meat, poultry production & consumption” American Meat Institute. 2009. (233.9 lbs)

http://www.meatami.com/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/48781

Bernard, Neal. “Do we eat too much?” Huffington Post. (200 lbs)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/neal-barnard-md/american-diet-do-we-eat-too-much_b_805980.html

34.) Nearly half of the contiguous US is devoted to animal agriculture. [xiii]
30% of the Earth’s entire land surface is used by the livestock sector.

Versterby, Marlow; Krupa, Kenneth. “Major uses of land in the United States.” Updated 2012. USDA Economic Research Service.

http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/sb-statistical-bulletin/sb-973.aspx#.VAoXcl7E8dt

“Rearing cattle produces more greenhouse gases than driving cars, UN report warns.”

UN News Centre, 2006.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?newsID=20772

35.) 1/3 of the planet is desertified due to livestock.

“UN launches international year of deserts and desertification.”

UN news centre, 2006.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=17076#.VAodM17E8ds

Oppenlander, Richard A. Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.

 

36.) 3/4 of the world’s fisheries are exploited.

“Overfishing: A Threat to Marine Biodiversity.” UN News Center.

http://www.un.org/events/tenstories/06/story.asp?storyid=800

“General Situation of World Fish Stocks.” United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

http://www.fao.org/newsroom/common/ecg/1000505/en/stocks.pdf

37.) 90 million tons of fish are pulled from our oceans each year. [vii]

“World Review of Fisheries and Aquaculture.” UNITED NATIONS FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION (FAO). 2012.

http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/i2727e/i2727e01.pdf

38.) For every 1 pound of fish caught, an average of 5 pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as by-kill. [viii]

“Discards and Bycatch in Shrimp Trawl Fisheries.”
UNITED NATIONS FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION (FAO).

http://www.fao.org/docrep/W6602E/w6602E09.htm

39.) As many as 40% (63 billion pounds) of fish caught globally every year are discarded.

Goldenberg, Suzanne. “America’s Nine Most Wasteful Fisheries Named.” The Guardian.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/20/americas-nine-most-wasteful-fisheries-named

40.) Scientists estimate as many as 650,000 whales, dolphins and seals are killed every year by fishing vessels.

Goldenberg, Suzanne. “America’s Nine Most Wasteful Fisheries Named.” The Guardian.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/20/americas-nine-most-wasteful-fisheries-named

41.) 100 million tons of fish are caught annually.

Montaigne, fen. “Still waters: The global fish crisis.” National Geographic.

http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/global-fish-crisis-article/

42.) Fish catch peaks at 85 million tons.

“World Review of Fisheries and Aquaculture.” UNITED NATIONS FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION (FAO). 2012.

http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/i2727e/i2727e01.pdf

 

 

43.) Throughout the world, humans drink 5.2 billion gallons of water and eat 21 billion pounds of food each day.

Based on rough averages of 0.75 gallons of water and 3 lbs of food per day.

Worldwide, cows drink 45 billion gallons of water and eat 135 billion pounds of food each day.

Based on rough average of 30 gallons of water and 90 lbs of feed per day.

44.) Land required to feed 1 person for 1 year:
Vegan: 1/6th acre
Vegetarian: 3x as much as a vegan
Meat Eater: 18x as much as a vegan

“Our food our future.” Earthsave.

http://www.earthsave.org/pdf/ofof2006.pdf

45.) 1.5 acres can produce 37,000 pounds of plant-based food.
1.5 acres can produce 375 pounds of meat.

Oppenlander, Richard A. Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.

46.) A person who follows a vegan diet uses 50% less carbon dioxide, 1/11th oil, 1/13th water, and 1/18th land compared to a meat-eater.

CO2: “Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK.” Climactic change, 2014.

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-014-1169-1/fulltext.html

Oil, water: “Sustainability of meat-based and plant-based diets and the environment.”
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2003.

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/78/3/660S.full

Land: “Our food our future.” Earthsave.

http://www.earthsave.org/pdf/ofof2006.pdf

47.) Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq ft of forested land, 20 lbs CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life. [xiv]

“Water Footprint Assessment.” University of Twente, the Netherlands.

http://www.waterfootprint.org

Oppenlander, Richard A. Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.

“Measuring the daily destruction of the world’s rainforests.” Scientific American, 2009.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/earth-talks-daily-destruction/

“Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK.” Climactic change, 2014.

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-014-1169-1/fulltext.html

“Meat eater’s guide to climate change and health.” The Environmental Working Group.

http://static.ewg.org/reports/2011/meateaters/pdf/methodology_ewg_meat_eaters_guide_to_health_and_climate_2011.pdf

 

Regarding the facts and research above: Although there may be fluctuations in numbers from year to year and from researcher to researcher, the fact remains that animal agriculture, as a whole, requires tremendous amounts of resources and is a leader in environmental degradation.

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David Pike, Editor