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Environmental Vegetarianism

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Benjamin Easley

on 29 April 2010

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Transcript of Environmental Vegetarianism

environmental vegetarianism According to a 2006 United Nations initiative, the livestock industry is one of the largest contributors to environmental degradation worldwide, and modern practices of raising animals for food contributes on a "massive scale" to deforestation, air and water pollution, land degradation, loss of topsoil, climate change, the overuse of resources including oil and water, and loss of biodiversity. The initiative concluded that "the livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global." In 2006 FAO estimated that meat industry contributes 18% of all emissions of greenhouse gases. This figure was revised in 2009 by two World Bank scientists and estimated at 51% minimum.
In a world of diminishing safe water supplies it is worth bearing in mind that animals fed on grain need much more water than grain crops. In tracking food animal production from the feed through to the dinner table, the inefficiencies of meat, milk and egg production range from a 4:1 energy input to protein output ratio up to 54:1. The result is that producing animal-based food is typically much less efficient than the direct harvesting of grains, vegetables, legumes, seeds and fruits for human consumption. A person existing chiefly on animal protein requires 10 times more land to provide adequate food than someone living on vegetable sources of protein. The environmental impacts of animal production vary with the method of production. A Grazing-based production can limit soil erosion and also allow farmers to control pest problems with less pesticides through rotating crops with grass. In arid areas, however, it may as well catalyze a desertification process. In a world that utilizes around 30 percent of its surface to raise livestock, it is important to recognize the potential effects grazing has on the soil. The World Health Organization calls malnutrition "the silent emergency", and says it is a factor in at least half of the 10.4 million child deaths which occur every year. Cornell scientists have advised that the U.S. could feed 800 million people with grain that livestock eat, although they distinguish "grain-fed meat production from pasture-raised livestock, calling cattle-grazing a more reasonable use of marginal land." The UN goes on to report that the food supply in 1992 could have fed 6.3 billion people on a purely vegetarian diet as compared to the 5.5 billion that inhabited earth in that year. This compares with serving 4.2 billion people on an 85% vegetarian diet and 3.2 billion people on a 75% vegetarian diet. The United Nations in their research, have also linked this cause to a myriad of other dangerous effects including the contamination of drinking water through contact with manure, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers; acid rain because of animal agricultural emissions of ammonia, greenhouse gas production, and aquifer depletion such as the giant aquifer beneath the Midwestern United States, not surprisingly the home of many large animal agricultural centers. thank you!
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