Meat Production : Greenhouse Gas And Water Usage

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Meat Production: Greenhouse Gas and Water Usage There has been a lot of recent media coverage on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) declaration that processed meats can cause cancer. The evidence is not new; however, WHO’s announcement brings increased attention to the matter. In addition to the human health effects of eating meat, there are also significant environmental impacts—greater than any other type of food—to supporting the desire to consume meat and dairy. Raising livestock for animal products requires a lot of land, water, food, and energy. Further, waste water, manure, and the use of pesticides and fertilizers pollute the air, streams, rivers, and oceans. There are a number of different types of livestock that contribute to environmental degradation, and in different ways; however, beef and dairy cattle appear to be the worst perpetrators. To narrow the focus of this paper, I will examine beef and two types of environmental impacts: greenhouse gases and water usage. Before we can understand the impacts, it’s important to note something about consumption habits. CONSUMPTION Although Americans’ consumption of meat is on the decline, on average we eat more meat per person than almost every other nation (Molla). Further, despite the decline that we’ve seen over the last few years, when looking over a longer term, meat consumption has increased dramatically since the 1930’s. Rising incomes and/or falling prices might offer insight into some of the reasons
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