March 21, 2012
Why do citizens continue allowing governments to ignore the many ecologic “time-bombs” that are mainly forged by the human exploit of animal agriculture? The majority of the Earth’s attainable fresh-water supply, vast expanses of rain forest, over half of the planet’s wetlands, nearly half of every edible grain that humanity reaps, as well as countless plant and animal species are either irrefutably depleted by or sent to extinction in order to satiate the animal agriculture industry. Why does discussing the issue immediately label an individual as an “alarmist”, a “radical”, an “extremist” or even in some cases, a “terrorist”? If I am to be labelled as such for speaking truth about what is happening around us, I will welcome your misplaced labels.
Even if you disbelieve in the reality of global warming or climate change(whichever terminology suits your fancy) through the threat of greenhouse effect from increased methane emissions, nearly 40% of which, all planetary methane emissions(natural or human-generated) are caused by animal agriculture alone, you can not deny the realities surrounding the aforementioned issues. The ecological consequences stemming from the loss of rain forests, wetlands, fresh water sources and the extinction of countless species of life, will eventually lead to the end of humanity’s continued posterity, as well as the future for the majority of life on the planet. The fact that some environmentalists still have not made an effort to dis-include animal-based products from their lifestyles, simply baffles me.
The amount of fresh-water used for rearing the animals that we exploit through animal agriculture is nothing short of monumentally outrageous. In the year 2000, The most reliable and widely-accepted water estimate to produce one pound of beef was roughly 2,000 gallons. A writer for Newsweek once stated, “the water that goes into a 1,000 pound steer would float a destroyer.” With over 1.5 billion cows in the animal agriculture industry, along with the other 60 billion animals that we enslave and slaughter for food purposes, is it any wonder why nearly 6,000 humans die each day over drought or poor water-source issues, alone? Why do we also possess the audacity to question why one tenth of the major rivers across the planet no longer flow into the sea for months out of each year? Some of these rivers no longer reach the sea at all. At our current rate of consumption and population growth, water shortages will affect well over 2 billion humans before 2025. Why do so many fail to act in realization that such a horrific problem exists?
For those who do not understand, on this planet, fresh-water is finite, it is not an infinite “commodity”. Only 2.5% of all water on Earth is fresh water. Over 70% of that fresh water is locked within rapidly disappearing glaciers, snow and our atmosphere. Considering that the average United States citizen consumes some 300 pounds(136 kilograms) of meat on an annual basis and there are now 310 million of us, it is fair to say that the necessity to alter our political priorities is literally staring us in the face. The current ideology which promotes that we “consume at all costs” and the apathetically generated “business as usual” corporate structure are truly leading us by our noses down the path to oblivion.
An undeniable inability to sustain fresh water sources for human survival is only one most dire negative issue directly caused by animal agriculture. Wetlands, critical habitats for wildlife, which now cover only 6% of the planet’s surface, also have one of the most important ecosystemic functions on Earth, even though humanity has not treated them in such a manner. Underneath the surface of wetlands, plants and microbes filter water, digesting pollution, retaining moisture in the wet season, whilst releasing it in the dry season. They are indispensable “filters” necessary for the regeneration and purification of water. In the last century, half of the world’s wetlands have been drained in favor of growing grain for “livestock” animals, due to the obvious richness of the soil underneath and natually saturated peat. This means that 50% of the planet’s wetlands, our natural filtering system, the Earth’s “liver and kidney’s” if you will allow the metaphoric reference, have been removed to sustain animal product consumption.
Likewise, rain forests, filtering and storing much of the oxygen that we breath, suffers through our completely unnecessary animal exploitation addiction. The trees of rain forest habitat also provides home and shelter for 3/4 of all planetary biodiversity. They breathe ground water into the air as mist and generate humidity that is necessary for all life on Earth to survive, whilst storing more carbon than exists in our entire atmosphere. This is the main reason why deforestation causes more CO2 emissions than the entire human transit system and in less than 40 years, the Amazon alone, has been reduced by more than 20% in favor of rearing “livestock”. In just over 5 years, Brazil loses nearly 150,000 square kilometers(57,915 square miles) of rain forest. That is an area larger than the nation of Greece. Since 1970, well over 600,000 square kilometers, nearly 250,000 square miles of Amazon rain forest have been destroyed, and it can not be replaced. On our current path of over-stressing the planet to produce the unrealistic amounts of grain needed to feed animals exploited by humans in the agriculture industry, there will be no rain forests in another 40 years.
Over 135 known plant and animal species also fall to extinction every single day, mainly because of deforestation, 80% of which, is caused by human employed animal agriculture, not global civil development(8% of all planetary deforestation). Considering that we have identified only half of the species of life on Earth, this tells us that significantly more than 135 species are surely succumbing to extinction, daily. It is extremely sobering to realize that our penchant for exploiting other life-forms is undeniably leading to the extinction by the hundreds on a daily basis, of animal and plant species, which have graced this planet for millions of years before the first humans set foot on soil. How many of those plants may have held the cure for diseases which currently plague us, no one will ever know.
Humans are a destructive force unto ourselves and it is unfortunate that many are currently unwilling to face reality. The truth is that we are systematically dismantling our own posterity’s future, as well as the future of everything that lives on this planet. Whether we alter our “modus operandi” or not will dictate whether we have a posterity at all and that will be reliant on how many of us are actually willing to work toward said alteration of our course. One thing is for certain; those who see themselves as ecologically concerned, must become not only more knowledgeable about environmental issues, but more proactive in promoting the vegan lifestyle and the best way to lead, is by example. If animal agriculture employed by a population of 7 billion humans is causing more devastation than any other negative force on the planet, which it most certainly is, it then becomes an environmentalist’s responsibility to promote change through truth for the betterment of all life on our world.
President of AELLA