The fact is that cattle farming contributes to land and water degradation, biodiversity loss, acid rains, deforestation, and even coral reef depletion. The impact caused by cattle farming is in fact not negligible. It is the prime cause of greenhouse gas emission, but we were taught to blame the automotive industry for that. But in reality, the amount of greenhouse gas contributed by the cattle industry is so massive i.e almost 18%, measured in CO2 equivalent (source: FAONewsroom) which is more than ships, planes, trucks, cars, and all the other modes of transportations combined.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions & Cattle Farming
Cattle have to digest foods that most other species cant do as well, like grass and tough plant material. They digest the food they eat through a process called Enteric Fermentation with the help of microbes in their stomach. As a result of this process, they release methane into the atmosphere which is the second most emitted greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide. Although Methane has a shorter lifespan than carbon dioxide and is in lesser quantity than CO2. It is ten times more heat-trapping than CO2. Its global warming potential over 100 years is 21 times more than that of CO2. Also from the methane emissions caused by human activities, Enteric fermentation is the biggest contributor, even more than by burning all fossil fuels combined
In other aspects apart from greenhouse gas emissions, cattle farming is the major cause of deforestation. It is even said that almost one or two acres of Rainforest are cleared for cattle farming. According to data from HYDE (History Database of the Global Environment), the land for grazing purposes was more than 3 billion hectares. Land used for the built environment like towns, cities, and other infrastructures was negligible when compared with the Brobdingnagian figures. Also, the land used for cattle grazing surpassed the amount of land used for growing crops by miles. It is said that 80% of the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest is to make way for cattle farming and grazing. By cutting down trees to make way for more grazing fields, it is releasing more CO2 that was trapped in the plants and trees back into the atmosphere, to which one could say that it is not adding more CO2 to the system and it is kept in equilibrium, we definitely need to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. The cattle industry keeps on contributing to the climate change that’s happening now and is not really helping anyways.
Cattle meat is also an inefficient way of food production. It takes almost 25 kilograms of wheat and almost 15000 liters of water to make just 1 kilogram of wheat. 30% of the earth’s land area used for cattle farming now, it is taking up a huge amount of resources from, that area too. Compared to other places where food, water, and other resources are scarce, this is very insufficient use of available, limited resources. Apart from the matter of inefficiency, this is also a question of human morality. The amount of grains being fed to the animals now can be used to feed an extra 3.5 billion people. Yes, we all have the freedom to choose what we eat, and that’s exactly the point; There are other choices.
Also Read: Uttarakhand Forest Fire: Why Our Forests are Burning?
Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of TheLiberalWing