Animals and Global Warming

This information is from a leaflet I picked up at last month’s Walk Against Warming in Sydney. Whilst I may not agree 100% with some of the assertions towards the end, there is still a lot to think about here.

Q. What is the largest contributor to global warming?

A. A recent study shows that animals raised for food account for at least half of all human-caused greenhouse gases.

The report, “Livestock and Climate Change”, by researchers at the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group shows that previous figures for the environmental impact of animal meat production have been vastly underestimated. Researchers found that the meat industry accounts for over 51% of annual worldwide gas emissions, including direct and indirect sources of emissions from livestock.

The report states that replacing livestock products with alternatives is the best strategy for reversing climate change and would have far more rapid effects on emissions than introducing renewable energy sources only.

Facts: Global warming and meat production

1. Animal farming generates more greenhouse gas than transport.

2. Animal farming products large quantities of methane (72 times as warming as carbon dioxide) and nitrous oxide (296 times).

3. Methane cycles out of the air in just eight years, so that lower methane emissions translate to cooling of the earth.

4. 70 percent of rainforests in the Amazon have been cleared for grazing.

5. In Australia, hundreds of millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions are caused by land clearing for grazing.

6. Meat and dairy production use huge amounts of water, causes air and water pollution, use fuel and causes soil erosion.

7. Livestock use 30 percent of the earth’s entire land surface.

8. 33 percent of global arable land is used to produce feed for livestock.

9. It takes 10,000 litres of water to farm just one kilo of beef, compared to only 500 litres for a kilo of potatoes or 900 litres for wheat.

10. Food wastage due to animal meat production would be enough to end hunger and malnutrition across the globe.


Livestock’s Long United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

Livestock and Climate Change, World Watch Magazine, November 2009

Its a Meat Market, Colin Tudge, New Scientist

Noam Mohr, report for EarthSave International

How to tackle the impact of animal agriculture

  • Governments must publicly recognise the negative impact of animal agriculture on global warming
  • Governments must remove all subsidies for animal agriculture and promote its replacement by organic plant farming
  • Environmental groups must recognise that animal agriculture is the largest cause of global warming
  • Governments must promote the fact that a plant-based diet is healthier than a diet containing meat and dairy products
  • State and Federal environment departments must strongly promote a plant-based diet for environmental reasons
  • State and Federal health departments must strongly promote a plant-based diet for health reasons
  • At Copenhagen, governments must include animal farming as one of the main factors in global warming

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