Embracing Sustainability: Forsaking Meat and Chemical Agriculture

Discussion in 'Economy & Infrastructure' started by parijataka, Nov 25, 2012.

  1. parijataka

    parijataka Senior Member Senior Member

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    Go vegetarian for a better future of this planet. If you have to eat meat then it is better (environmentally) to eat chicken rather than beef that requires large amount of water and grains to produce. And then again, it is better to eat products, whether meat or veggies, from local, organic farms than large factory type farms that use lot of fuel and resources and use harmful pesticides and chemicals.

    Embracing Sustainability: Forsaking Meat and Chemical Agriculture
    Colin Todhunter

    When global warming is mentioned, most people envisage oil refineries, coal-fired powered plants, cars or smoke belching factories wreaking havoc with the planet. But, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation, livestock is responsible for 18 per cent of greenhouse gases, more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together.

    It could well be the case that going vegetarian may be the easiest and quickest way to lower your carbon footprint, reduce pollution, and save energy and water. Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, certainly thinks so. An Indian economist, he says that reducing or cutting out meat entirely is one of the most important personal choices we can make to address climate change. While vegetarianism in some countries was once regarded as a fad or a luxury, Dr Pachauri implies it is fast becoming a necessity.

    Environmental Impact

    The amount of meat humans eat is immense. In 1965, 10 billion livestock animals were slaughtered each year. Today, that number is 55 billion. More chickens are killed in the US every year than there are people in the world, and there are one billion cattle alive, weighing twice as much as the human population.

    All that livestock needs land, which places pressure on wildlife habitat and forest. Livestock is the world’s largest land user. Grazing occupies 26 per cent of the earth’s ice-free terrestrial surface, and feed crop production uses about one third of all arable land.

    Factor in that meat production requires staggering amounts of land, water, and energy compared to plant foods, and it’s not surprising that a 2010 UN report explained that western-type dietary preferences for meat would be unsustainable in future, given that the expected rise in world population. Demand for meat is expected to double by 2050. Meat consumption is already steadily rising in countries such as China, which once followed more sustainable, vegetable-based diets.

    A person existing mainly on animal protein requires ten times more land to provide adequate food than someone living on vegetable sources of protein. Far more energy is put into animals per unit of food than for any plant crop because cattle consume 16 times as much grain as they produce as meat: it takes 16 pounds of grain to make one pound of beef.

    Animal farms use nearly 40 per cent of the world’s total grain production. In the US, nearly 70 per cent of grain production is fed to livestock. If humans continue to eat more and more meat, it means we are going to place far more strain on land and water use and are also going to manufacture much more chemical fertilisers and pesticides. We will thus be creating far more pollution and greenhouse gases.

    Modern farming (both meat and non-meat production) is heavily dependent on chemicals, which leads to the emission of the major greenhouses gases: carbon dioxide from the use of fossil fuels for machinery and to produce the chemicals needed, nitrogen oxide (300 times more potent than carbon dioxide) from the use of chemical fertilisers and methane (animal flatulence) from factory farming.

    Livestock generally contribute to about 9 per cent of total human related carbon dioxide emissions, 37 per cent of methane emissions and 65 per cent of nitrous oxide emissions. This includes carbon dioxide emission from deforestation in Central and South America, attributed to livestock production.

    Consider that a gallon of gasoline is used to produce a mere pound of grain-fed beef, and you begin to appreciate that meat production is a very fossil fuel, resource-intensive industry.

    According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, “Ranching-induced deforestation is one of the main causes of loss of some unique plant and animal species in the tropical rainforests of Central and South America as well as carbon release in the atmosphere.”

    A 2010 report from the United Nations Environment Programme’s International Panel of Sustainable Resource Management declared: “Impacts from agriculture are expected to increase substantially due to population growth and increasing consumption of animal products… A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.”

    According to the United Nations Population Fund, “Each US citizen consumes an average of 260 pounds of meat per year, the world’s highest rate. That is about 1.5 times the industrial world average, three times the East Asian average, and 40 times the average in Bangladesh.”

    Scientists at Cornell University have advised that the US could feed 800 million people with the grain that livestock eat.

    Water-Intensive Meat

    Meat production also places a great strain on fresh water, which is likely to become an increasingly scarce resource in the coming years. John Anthony Allan, professor at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, argues that the average meat-eating US citizen consumes five cubic meters of water compared to half of that which vegetarians consume. But not all meat is equally water-intensive.

    He says that beef requires 15,500 litres of water per kilogram compared to chicken, which needs 3,900 litres per kilogram. So, at the very least, consumers could think about reducing their beef consumption since it requires the most unsustainable water footprint.

    In her book, Stolen Harvests, environmentalist Vandana Shiva says that for every pound of red meat, poultry, eggs and milk produced, farm fields lose about five pounds of irreplaceable top soil. She also states that the water necessary for meat breeding comes to about 190 gallons per animal per day, or ten times what a normal Indian family is supposed to use in one day, if it gets water at all.

    Animal Welfare

    Of course, other arguments against eating meat or using animal products have been around for a long time, well before global warming and climate change appeared on the scene. Various religious and philosophical traditions believe that humans should not kill, maim, torture or exploit fellow beings for food or other purposes.


    But kill, maim, torture and exploit we do. Take chickens as just one example from the many that we could take. For the past half century, there have been two kinds of chickens — broilers and layers. They have different bodies, engineered for different ‘functions.’ Layers make eggs and broilers make flesh. Over the past 50 years, they have been engineered to grow more than twice as large in less than half the time. Chickens once had a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years, but the modern broiler is typically killed at around six weeks. Their daily growth rate has increased roughly by 400 per cent.

    All male layers in the US, comprising more than 250 million chicks a year, are destroyed. Most are destroyed by being sucked through a series of pipes onto an electrified plate. Some are tossed into large plastic containers. The weak are trampled to the bottom, where they suffocate slowly. The strong suffocate slowly at the top. Others are also sent fully conscious through macerators.

    So, if global warming isn’t enough to make people think twice about going vegetarian or reducing their meat consumption, the cruelty we inflict on other species may well do.

    Chemical-industrial agriculture in general

    But let’s not get too carried away and place all our focus on meat production. The heavy dependence on fossil energy suggests that the modern food system, whether meat-based or plant-based, is generally bad for the environment.

    During the last century, a radical shift took place in the world’s food system. We went from a sustainably based, localised food production to a fossil-fuel addicted industrialised system. Indeed, agriculture has changed more in the past two generations than it did in the previous 12,000 years, and almost every aspect of the modern industrial agriculture creates greenhouse gas emissions.

    Author James E McWilliams suggests that many people recognise this impact and have turned to meat, dairy and eggs from non-industrial sources. The last decade has seen a surge in grass-fed, free-range, cage-free options. These alternatives typically come from small organic farms which practice more humane methods of production and at least appear to be more in harmony with nature.

    In India, people might like to consider that the next time they eat a meal of rice and vegetables, they could be taking in more than 40 times the amount of pesticides that an average North American person would consume for a similar meal. That’s because India is one of the world’s largest users of pesticides. Lady’s finger, cabbage, tomato and cauliflower in particular may contain dangerously high levels and fruits and vegetables are sprayed and tampered with to ripen and make them more colourful. Research by the School of Natural Sciences and Engineering at the National Institute of Advanced Studies in Bangalore reported in 2008 that many crops for export had been rejected internationally due to high pesticide residues.

    Originally from the northwest of England, Colin Todhunter has spent many years in India. He has written extensively for the Bangalore-based Deccan Herald, New Indian Express and Morning Star (Britain). His articles have also appeared in many other publications. His East by Northwest site is at: East by Northwest
     
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  3. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    Yeah ban beef. It's not good for health either.
     
  4. Iamanidiot

    Iamanidiot Elite Member Elite Member

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    Yusuf U sinner beef is divine manna
     
  5. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    Yuck!!

    Dharam Bhrast mat kara. Chicken any time all the time!
     
  6. Iamanidiot

    Iamanidiot Elite Member Elite Member

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    Yusuf I find Beef very tasty
     
  7. Das ka das

    Das ka das Tihar Jail Banned

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    Being a vegetarian is more humane, sustainable, and advanced.

    That being said, no one should force their views on anyone.
     
  8. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    Green Revolution - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     

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