Cows and Climate Change


Zucarelli; Landscape with a Woman Leading a Cow, c.1740, Hermitage

We noted recently that you save more water by not eating a pound of beef than you do by not showering for an entire year. Now a new United Nations report calls cattle the greatest threat to the climate, forests and wildlife. Cattle are "responsible for 18% of greenhouse gases, more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together." This includes the fuel burned making fertilizer, to produce the meat and transport it, as well as the obvious cow fart and manure production of methane, 20 times more effective as a global warmer as CO2. Between the water and the carbon footprint, it is definitely time to go veg. ::IndependentOther effects of livestock on the landscape:

"Ranching, the report adds, is "the major driver of deforestation" worldwide, and overgrazing is turning a fifth of all pastures and ranges into desert.Cows also soak up vast amounts of water: it takes a staggering 990 litres of water to produce one litre of milk.

Wastes from feedlots and fertilisers used to grow their feed overnourish water, causing weeds to choke all other life. And the pesticides, antibiotics and hormones used to treat them get into drinking water and endanger human health.

The pollution washes down to the sea, killing coral reefs and creating "dead zones" devoid of life. One is up to 21,000sqkm, in the Gulf of Mexico, where much of the waste from US beef production is carried down the Mississippi."

You can download the entire report ( 5 meg PDF) here.