NOTE. Source for data: Cowspiracy

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret is a groundbreaking feature-length environmental documentary following intrepid filmmaker Kip Andersen as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today – and investigates why the world’s leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about it.

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution, is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry, and is a primary driver of rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss, topsoil erosion, ocean “dead zones,” and virtually every other environmental ill. Yet it goes on, almost entirely unchallenged.

As Andersen approaches leaders in the environmental movement, he increasingly uncovers what appears to be an intentional refusal to discuss the issue of animal agriculture, while industry whistleblowers and watchdogs warn him of the risks to his freedom and even his life if he dares to persist. Executive producer: Leonardo DeCaprio

What effect is animal agriculture having on the environment

Can we sustain eating animals as the human population explodes?

(The following facts and resources are taken directly from the Cowspiracy.com/facts page. All credit goes to Filmmakers Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn).

Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.

WorldWatch, November/December 2009. Worldwatch Institute, Washington, DC, USA. Pp. 10–19.

Methane is 25-100 times more destructive than CO2 on a 20 year time frame.

“Improved Attribution of Climate Forcing to Emissions.” Science Magazine.

Livestock is responsible for 65% of all human-related emissions of nitrous oxide – a greenhouse gas with 296 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, and which stays in the atmosphere for 150 years.

“Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2006.

Emissions for agriculture projected to increase 80% by 2050.Energy related emissions expected to increase 20% by 2040.US Methane emissions from livestock and natural gas are nearly equal

EPA. “Overview of Greenhouse Gases.”

Cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane per day

Ross, Philip. “Cow farts have ‘larger greenhouse gas impact’ than previously thought; methane pushes climate change.” International

Converting to wind and solar power will take 20+ years and roughly 43 trillion dollars

The Cost Of Going Green Globally

Even without fossil fuels, we will exceed our 565 gigatonne CO2e limit by 2030, all from raising animals.

Source: calculation is based on http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6294 analyses that 51% of GHG are attributed to animal ag.

Reducing methane emissions would create tangible benefits almost immediately

U.N. Press Release, Climate Summit 2014

Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) water use ranges from 70-140 billion gallons annually. Animal agriculture water consumption ranges from 34-76 trillion gallons annually

Pimentel, David, et al. “Water Resources: Agricultural And Environmental Issues.” BioScience 54, no. 10 (2004): 909-18.] [Barber, N.L., “Summary of estimated water use in the United States in 2005: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2009–3098.”

Agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of US water consumption

“USDA ERS – Irrigation & Water Use.” United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. 2013.

Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of water in the US. 2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef. 77 gallons of water are required to produce 1lb. of eggs; almost 900 gallons of water are needed for 1lb. of cheese

“Meateater’s Guide to Climate Change & Health.” Environmental Working Group.

1,000 gallons of water are required to produce 1 gallon of milk

Water Footprint Network, “Product Water Footprints”.] [A Global Assessment of the Water Footprint of Farm Animal Products, WFN.

5% of water consumed in the US is by private homes. 55% of water consumed in the US is for animal agriculture

Jacobson, Michael F. “More and Cleaner Water.” In Six Arguments for a Greener Diet: How a More Plant-based Diet Could save Your Health and the Environment. Washington, DC: Center for Science in the Public Interest, 2006.

Animal Agriculture is responsible for 20%-33% of all fresh water consumption in the world today

Oxford Journals. “Water Resources: Agricultural and Environmental Issues” Journal of Animal Science. “Estimation of the water requirement for beef production in the United States.” , Robbins, John. “2,500 Gallons, All Wet?” EarthSave
Meateater’s Guide to Climate Change & Health.” Environmental Working Group., “Water Footprint Assessment.” University of Twente, the Netherlands.

Livestock covers 45% of the earth’s total land

Thornton, Phillip, Mario Herrero, and Polly Ericksen. “Livestock and Climate Change.” Livestock Exchange, no. 3 (2011).
IPCC AR5 WG# Chapter 11, Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Us (AFOLU)

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction

Animal agriculture contributes to species extinction in many ways. In addition to the monumental habitat destruction caused by clearing forests and converting land to grow feed crops and for animal grazing, predators and “competition” species are frequently targeted and hunted because of a perceived threat to livestock profits. The widespread use of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers used in the production of feed crops often interferes with the reproductive systems of animals and poison waterways. The overexploitation of wild species through commercial fishing, bushmeat trade as well as animal agriculture’s impact on climate change, all contribute to global depletion of species and resources. [XIX]
Oppenlander, Richard A. Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. . Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.
Comfortably Unaware. Oppenlander.
“Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2006.
The Encyclopedia of Earth, “The Causes of Extinction”.
Annenberg Learner, Unit 9: Biodiversity Decline // Section 7: Habitat Loss: Causes and Consequences
WWF, “Losing their homes because of the growing needs of humans.”
Center for Biological Diversity, “How Eating Meat Hurts Wildlife and the Planet”.
Science Direct “Biodiversity conservation: The key is reducing meat consumption”
FAO, “Livestock impacts on the environment”.
“Fire Up the Grill for a Mouthwatering Red, White, and Green July 4th.” Worldwatch Institute. Oppenlander, Richard A. “Biodiversity and Food Choice: A Clarification.” Comfortably Unaware. 2012
“Risk Assessment Evaluation for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Office of Research and Development. 2004.

Largest mass extinction in 65 million years

Niles Eldredge, “The Sixth Extinction”.
Mass extinction of species has begun.
Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction

“When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize that one cannot eat money.”

– Native American saying

Water Usage in Animal Agriculture

The above facts are based on a study in U.S.A. However, this a major planetary issue with Animal Agriculture dominating cultures allover the world. Australia now ranks #1 Meat Consumer in the world, per capita. An example of the amount of resources needed to produce milk in Australia is highlighted in this video.

The Cowspiracy resources show the devastating consequences eating animal products has on the planet. We all have a responsibility to change our eating habits in order to save the planet. More than ever before, the argument that eating meat is a `personal choice` could not be further from the truth.

So how else has the planet changed since the fast paced, assembly line mass production of food has taken over?

Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction

World Bank. “Causes of Deforestation of theBrazilian Amazon” Margulis, Sergio. Causes of Deforestation of the Brazilian Rainforest. Washington: World Bank Publications, 2003. WORLD BANK WORKING PAPER NO. 22.

1-2 acres of rainforest are cleared every second

“Avoiding Unsustainable Rainforest Wood.” Rainforest Relief. Facts about the rainforest. World Resources Institute, “Keeping Options Alive”.

The leading causes of rainforest destruction are livestock and feedcrops

“Livestock impacts on the environment.” Food and agriculture organization of the United Nations (fao). 2006.

Up to137 plant, animal and insect species are lost every day due to rainforest destruction

“Rainforest statistics and facts.” Save the amazon. RAN, Fact Page. Tropical Rain Forest Information Center, NASA Earth Science Information Partner Monga Bay, “What is Deforestation?”. 150-200 species per day are lost per day, The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity

26 million rainforest acres (10.8m hectares) have been cleared for palm oil production

“Indonesia: palm oil expansion unaffected by forest moratorium.” USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. 2013.

136 million rainforest acres cleared for animal agriculture

“AMAZON DESTRUCTION.” MONGA BAY. 214,000 square miles occupied by cattle (136 million acres):

1,100 Land activists have been killed in Brazil in the past 20 years

Batty, David. “Brazilian faces retrial over murder of environmental activist nun in Amazon.” The Guardian. 2009. 20 years ago the Amazon lost its strongest advocate.

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