Environmental Impact of Meat Consumption and Production

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One of the biggest controversies with livestock production is that the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that get released into the atmosphere. Its assumed that cars produce most if not all the greenhouse gas emissions however livestock has a big say in air pollution. According to Cassandra Brooks, writer for the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, 18 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions are due to livestock production. This is nearly 20% and can be greatly reduced if people reduced their demand for meat. The Environmental Working Group used a tangible variable for Americans stating “if everyone in the U.S. ate no meat or cheese just one day a week, it would be like not driving 91 billion miles – or taking 7.6 million …show more content…
If that isn’t enough, the Amazon rainforest is being affected by beef production; four-fifths of the deforestation is due to cattle ranching (Scheer). This is because there needs to be room for the livestock to roam and crops to feed the animals. There isn’t enough space for humans and our livestock since reported by Suzanne Rice, writer for the Journal of Thought, “30 percent of the earth’s ice-free land is... involved in livestock production” (Rice 118). 30 percent doesn’t leave us with much and it is no wonder we are deforesting these rainforests. However, although cattle seems to be the most detrimental livestock factor to the environmental problem, they are not alone.
Chicken, lamb, turkey, milk, pork, eggs, fish, etc., all contribute to the environmental problems facing the planet. The fossil-fuel energy consumption to protein output for these livestock are as follows: chicken has a 4:1 ration, lamb 50:1, turkey 13:1, milk protein 14:1, pork 17:1, and eggs at a 26:1 ratio. This averages out to almost eight-times more “fossil-fuel energy than production of plant protein” (Pimentel). In addition, each animal has its own benefits and downfalls. Pigs propose a lower carbon footprint but if raised in ideal free-range environments they can pollute the soil with nitrogen (Goffman 5). Chickens pose the threat of spreading bacteria through rivers and streams and spurring algal growth which create “dead zones”,
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