Five Ways that Raising Animals for Food Accelerates Global Warming More than We Thought
In 2006, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization published the groundbreaking Livestock’s Long Shadow. This historical report focused attention on environmental facts that were long-known but studiously avoided by both consumers and policymakers.
Livestock’s Long Shadow documents the horrific environmental consequences of raising farmed animals for people to eat. Water shortages. Air and water pollution. Degraded soil. Deforestation. Extinction of wild plants and animals.
The list is heart breaking for anyone who cares about the future of our planet. I worry every day about the world my daughters are inheriting. How long
can we sustain even basic necessities on a plundered planet?
Most famously, this United Nations report documents that 18 % of greenhouse gas emissions can be directly traced to raising animals for food. This staggering impact is more than all transportation combined. You could scrap every truck, car, plane, and train on the planet – or you could stop raising farmed animals and have an even greater effect on climate change.
Now two respected researchers document that the impact of animal agriculture on global warming is almost three times worse that the UN estimated in 2006. The respected, independent nonprofit World Watch Institute published this analysis in their November/December 2009 magazine.
The study’s authors thoughtfully question what the United Nations left out or ignored. These pros have really done their homework. Their article demonstrates five major sources of greenhouse gas emissions from farmed animals left out of Livestock’s Long Shadow. The mistakes the authors found include overlooked sources of greenhouse gases, undercounted methane, and global warming contributors put into incorrect categories.
So what’s the bottom line? Over half – 51% – of global warming is directly caused by farming animals. You can have a direct, immediate impact on your kids’ future just by changing what you eat for dinner. Can you think of a single valid reason not to do this?
Changing what you eat is not nearly as hard as you think it might be. It’s not as painful as watching droughts, floods, disease, famine, and hurricanes rip people’s lives apart as global warming accelerates. Thank you World Watch Institute for these fearless insights. We don’t want to confront our comfortable habits, but we must.
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Blog posting by Janice Stanger, Ph.D. Janice authored The Perfect Formula Diet, the smart person’s nutrition book built on sustainable food choices. Enjoy six kinds of whole foods for permanent, hunger-free weight loss and health.