How much does food consumption adversely affect the global environment? According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, livestock accounts for nearly 18% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Since 1965, the number of animals slaughtered each year has increased from 10 billion to 55 billion. This in turn means that 9% of total greenhouse gas emissions, 37% of methane emissions, and 65% of nitrous oxide emissions come from livestock alone. Livestock also takes up 26% of the earth’s usable land.
Livestock is not the only issue, modern food production and farming in general is hurting the global environment. In the industrial age, farming relies so heavily on fossil fuels, pesticides and hormones that harm not only the food that we consume, but the atmosphere and soil too. A shift from these practices to more sustainable and organic farming is necessary and could greatly reduce global environmental harm in a world of cars and industry.
Although all agriculture has some environmental impact, the production of meat is significantly more harmful. Even if we can conscientiously continue to produce meat in the way we do, the earth will be unable to keep up with such rapid deterioration.
Colin Todhunter, “Embracing Sustainability: Forsaking Meat and Chemical Agriculture,” Global Research, September 18, 2012, http://www.globalresearch.ca/embracing-sustainability-forsaking-meat-and-chemical-agriculture/5305093
Student Researcher: Dave Lan Franco (College of Marin)
Faculty Evaluator: Susan Rahman (College of Marin)