Environment

Environment

Introduction

Human beings are amazing creatures; unique among the species of this planet, we have the power to shape our environment. We use this power to achieve incredible things. From humble beginnings, we are now capable of living in cities by the million, where the majority of people will never know what it means to be hungry. We’ve been playing this game for as long as we can remember, but for the first time in history we find ourselves to be one of the biggest driving factors in most, if not all, the major ecosystems on the planet.

Climate change is a major threat to Earth’s ecology, but it’s just one of the massive sustainability crises that we are currently facing. The public at large are generally unaware of these other issues, and though they may be less serious than a destabilised climate, they nonetheless require our immediate attention.

I’m not going to tell you that it’ll be the end of the world, or that civilisation will crumble, but if we don’t change our behaviour drastically, and soon, we face the very serious risk of a global socioeconomic crisis the likes of which we are wholly unprepared for.

So, stick around to see what the problem is, and what you can do about it.

The state of things

The planet is obviously very complicated. The Climate, chemical flows and bioactivity of Earth are vast interconnected systems spanning disparate disciplines such as physics, chemistry, geology, biology, fluid mechanics, geography, meteorology, and so on. Given this, it might sound impossible to know anything about the environment.

So how can we get a handle on the problem? One way is with planetary boundaries.

Planetary Boundaries

Planetary boundaries are a framework for understanding the stress that humans put on the environment. Each boundary is a tipping point beyond which there is risk of abrupt and irreversible environmental change.

There are 9 boundaries in total, two of which have no agreed upon measure. Of the remaining 7, we have already crossed 4.  (!!bad!!).

(red = boundary crossed, grey = no agreed measure)

  • Climate change / Radiative Forcing (greenhouse effect)[38][39][40]

  • Novel entities

  • Stratospheric ozone depletion

  • Atmospheric aerosol loading

  • Ocean acidification(!)

  • Biogeochemical flows

    • Phosphorus[50]

    • Nitrogen[42][46][47][48][49]

  • Freshwater use

  • Land-system change[50]

  • Biosphere integrity

    • Genetic diversity / biodiversity loss[41][42][43][44][45]

    • Functional diversity

The important thing to take away here is the need for a reversal. It’s not that the rate of expansion is too great: even current levels are posing a real risk.

Timelines currently facing us

We can also look to various indicators to get an idea of how the environment is coping with human activity. That being said, the future holds some troubling trends.

  • A 40% shortage of freshwater is predicted by 2030[30] (aquifers are being depleted faster than they can replenish).

  • All topsoil, without which little plant life is possible, is expected to be lost within just 60 years (2074).[31]

  • At current rates of deforestation, more than half of the Amazon rainforest will be lost by 2030.[74]

  • It is projected that oceanic fish will be extinct by 2048.[33]

    timelines.png
    timelines.png

  • Today: 87% of all fish species fully or overexploited, 2015.[32]

  • Today: Phosphorus & Nitrogen balance disrupted, 2015

    • Human activities now convert more nitrogen from the atmosphere into reactive forms than all of the Earth’s terrestrial processes combined.[37]

    • The single largest contributor is fertiliser use.[42] Nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilisers ends up in rivers, lakes and the sea, where excess amounts stress aquatic ecosystems.

  • Today: Records in 2014: [73]

    • CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide — the major greenhouse gases released into Earth’s atmosphere — all reached record high average atmospheric concentrations for the year.

    • Highest global surface temperature in the last 135 years of record keeping.

    • Globally averaged sea surface temperature was the highest in record.

  • Today: We have already reached some tipping points. Even if we stopped emitting any greenhouse gasses the oceans are now predicted to continue warming for centuries.[73]

Due to the actions of humans, we are currently living through the sixth mass extinction event in cosmological history. The extinctions, occurring at a rate of up to 140,000 per year,[72] span numerous families of plants and animals including mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and arthropods.

Where does the problem come from?

The first step to solving our sustainability issues comes from a recognition of where they come from. Animal agriculture, the practice of raising animals for food and clothing, is the sector singly most responsible for nearly all aspects of our unsustainability combined. From food security and climate change to land-use, biodiversity loss, freshwater use, water pollution, ocean dead-zones, rainforest destruction and deforestation.

The reason is simple: animal agriculture is terribly inefficient. For simple biological reasons, feeding grain to an animal and then consuming the animal’s flesh or milk is always going to be less efficient than consuming the grain directly, whether efficiency is measured in terms of energy (calories), or protein, or land use. [77]

Food security: [please explain]

Land-use efficiency:

  • Land use (plants vs. animals per acre):

    • 15:1 Protein[34]

    • 9:1 Calories[79]

  • Feed conversion ratios:

    • Cattle: 5-20[25]

    • Pigs: 3.0-3.2 (claimed by the US pork industry…)[56]

    • Sheep: 4/5[57][58][59]-6[61] (even up to 40)[60] (careful, we’re not measuring food-product here)

    • Poultry: 2[11]

At this point it is natural to ask about grazing. What about the animals that we raise on grass, or other things not fit for human consumption? And what about local, organic animal agriculture?

Apart from the fact that we are simply incapable of coming anywhere close to meeting demand by raising animals this way, it also does not address many of the key environmental effects of animal agriculture everything that follows equally applies to both systems, and in some cases more so for ‘humanely’ raised animals. This is mainly because grazing animals still uses the land, just with different plants. It is important to realise that this is not an industrial or a factory farm issue, it’s a raising-animals-to-eat issue.

Take a look at Figure 2. Notice how little useful biomass comes out of the livestock system (purple) as well as the huge amount of waste residue that it produces (large red arrow)*. Notice also what a huge portion of land and cropland is taken up by the livestock system. Much of this land could be reforested in order to sequester carbon in the atmosphere.

Desertification:

Because of how inefficient the use of livestock is, and the ever growing demand for animal products:

  • Livestock is the leading driver of desertification.[10]

  • 35% of the world’s land is dedicated to raising livestock. (figure 2) [28]

  • 52% of the world’s cropland is dedicated to feeding livestock. (figure 2)[28]

Rainforest destruction:

  • Animal agriculture is responsible for 60-80%[75] (up to 91%[10][24]) of Amazon rainforest destruction.

  • The leading causes of rainforest destruction are livestock and feed-crops.[1]

  • Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation globally (at 14%). [75]

Species extinction and habitat destruction:

  • Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction[11][17][18] and habitat destruction.[11][19][20]

Greenhouse gas emissions:

  • Releasers of CO2 (Annual)

    • Fossil Fuels: 7.8Gt

    • Deforestation: 1.5Gt

    • Human-caused land changes (& respiration): 11.6Gt (wherein sits the livestock contribution)

      • One-third of CO2 emissions are from changes in land use, primarily due to deforestation.[69]

  • Animal agriculture is responsible for 14.5[21]/18[11]-51%[22] of all GHG emissions, compared to just 13% for all of global transport (exhausts)[1]

    • The difference comes from whether we take into account other processes caused by animal agriculture, such as the aforementioned rainforest destruction and desertification, as well as the land used to grow feed-crops and reduced photosynthetic capacity

  • Per acre of land, raising animals for consumption uses 11 times the amount of fossil fuel, when compared to direct plant-based systems.[35]

  • Total dietary emissions (weighted by warming potential) for vegans in the UK are, at most, half of the dietary emissions for those who eat animal products.[36]

  • Global greenhouse emissions from agriculture, forestry and other land use is more than that for all industry, and more than that for all transportation. It is second only to the emissions due to heat and energy production.[75]

    • If we take the percentage of cropland used for animal agriculture (52%[28]; from figure 2) and the percentage of greenhouse emissions from agriculture, etc. (24%[75]), we can crudely estimate that animal agriculture is responsible for at least 13% of greenhouse emissions.

    • If we take grazing land into account (animal agriculture uses 77% of agricultural land[28]; from figure 2), we get 41%.

  • Methane

    • Livestock is the largest contributor of methane emissions (fossil fuels are a close second) (figure 4).[51] [mention the main source: ruminants]

    • Humans are responsible for 64% of all methane emissions[70] (in contrast, human-produced CO2 seems to be 3.75%).

  • Methane is shorter lived in the atmosphere than CO2, so it’s contribution to climate change looks disproportionately benign over longer time periods. Taken over a 20 year period, methane has between 20 and 100 times the warming effect that CO2 does. However, since CO2 has over 200 times the concentration in the atmosphere, it turns out that methane only contributes to 28% of the warming that CO2 does (from all sources, including natural ones).[55]

  • 28% is still a huge fraction! The good news is that, if we were to stop producing it, the methane from animal agriculture would disappear in a number of decades, rather than centuries.

Pollution & Water:

  • The raising of livestock produces 65% of all human-related emissions of nitrous oxide.[11]

  • Animal agriculture is the leading cause of water pollution.[11][14][15][16]

  • In the US:

    • Agriculture as a whole: 80-90% of freshwater use.[3]

    • Growing feed for livestock accounts for 56% of freshwater use.[2] (For some perspective, private homes use just 5%[2])

    • 442-8000 (often cited as 2500) gallons per pound of beef[4][5][6][7][8][9][10]               [4228-80177 (cited 15000) l/kg (90 bathtubs) [78]]

  • Globally animal agriculture uses 13 times (3-75) the amount of freshwater per kg of product when compared to plants grown for direct human consumption. (The water footprint per kg-of-protein is 1.5-6 times, per calorie it’s up to 20 times) [9]

Fishing & Oceans: [mention aquaculture; http://www.pnas.org/c…]

  • 50-85% of atmospheric oxygen is produced by phytoplankton[64][65]

    • A healthy ocean ecosystem, which is necessary for the wellbeing of phytoplankton, is thus critical to the wellbeing of the planet at large.

  • Dead-zones:

    • There are over 400 hypoxic ocean dead-zones globally near coastlines where aquatic life is most concentrated.[54]

    • Dead-zones comprise over 95,000 sq. miles (246,048.87 km2) completely devoid of life.[54] (Hence average size is over 237.5 sq. miles / 615.12 km2)

    • Animal agriculture is the leading cause of ocean dead-zones.[12][13]

  • 90% of top-level marine predators have been lost.[52]

    • 3.3 million sharks are caught as bycatch every year in the pacific ocean alone.[63]

    • For example, in the north east Atlantic Ocean, 89% of hammerhead sharks and 80% of thresher and white sharks have disappeared in the last two decades as a result of bycatch. [63]

  • The marine vertebrate population has declined by 49% percent between 1970 and 2012.[66]

  • There has been an over 96% reduction in the pacific bluefin tuna population since fishing began.[53]

  • Up to 40% of all fish is caught as bycatch.[67]

  • 87% of all fish stocks fully or overexploited.[32]

  • Shrimping is the worst offender in terms of bycatch (37.2%). [68] The ratio of shrimp-catch to bycatch is 1:5.7 (average, up to 1:20). [62]

  • The extinction of oceanic fish is predicted by 2048. This biodiversity loss is tightly linked to declining water quality, harmful algal blooms, ocean dead-zones and fish kills. [33]

  • Trawling destroys seagrasses, coral reefs and rock gardens where fish hide from predators.[71]

Biodiversity:

  • There’s been an average decline of 52% in all vertebrate populations in the last 40 years, due to hunting and the loss and desegregation of habitat. [23] In that same time, global production of meat and dairy products quadrupled.

  • The biomass distribution of megafauna (animals over 25kg)[26]:

    • 100K-10K years ago humans accounted for less than 1% of this biomass

    • Today, the wild-animal biomass has been reduced by over 80%

    • We can use biomass distribution as a way of quantifying the strain that we are putting on the environment. While humans clearly have a huge footprint in this regard (the current human biomass is more than twice the total biomass of all megafauna just 100K years ago.), we are also carrying the enormous weight of our livestock system. Overpopulation of livestock is a serious issue. As we’ve seen above it contributes to mass extinction, habitat destruction and the disruption of vital chemical flows.

What do we do now?

“We clearly need to change our ecological footprint. We can blame overpopulation, but are we really going to start culling humans? We can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, but that will take too long, and again, climate change is just one of the planetary boundaries confronting us.

“How sustainable is it to produce and consume any animal product in a relative sense, as compared to plant based foods? Just in the past hour, over 8 million domesticated land animals were slaughtered, over 200 million sea animals were caught for us to eat, and over 100 thousand tons of grain were fed to livestock. But during that same hour, more than 350 children died from starvation. These numbers should be zero.

“A person sitting next to you, who is eating pork, chicken, cheese or fish is taking away resources that could be spread more evenly and more efficiently. That could be used to support the life of perhaps 20 other people as well as thousands of other species, while helping to mitigate climate change, rather than cause it.

Animal agriculture weaves it way recklessly through irreversible damage to the climate, loss of land and freshwater, oceanic destruction, loss of biodiversity and rapid rate of extinctions. World hunger, pollution, food pricing and availability, increase in chronic and emerging diseases. Regarding our oceans, the damage we have done is irreversible in our lifetimes, and today, there is no such thing as sustainable seafood (given the overwhelming debt we already owe to the ocean).

This is not an industrial or a factory farm issue, it’s a raising-animals-to-eat issue. We no longer have room of animals to be configured in the middle of the food production equation. It’s become antiquated. It’s become obsolete.”

There is hope. By reforesting just 41% of current grazing land, we can sequester more carbon than humans have emitted since the industrial age (265 GtC vs. 240 GtC).[28] Simulations show that 80% of said sequestration will happen within 20 yrs.[What simulations?] And there are working examples today showing complete mitigation of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions from all sources by way of sequestration simply by converting feed cropland and grazing pastures to direct plant-based systems.[citation needed]

Many people who call themselves environmentalists will tell you that they have taken up cycling, or have shorter showers in order to minimise their impact. What irony, that these same people will help fund the organisations singly most responsible for our sustainability issues, and help pay for an industry that is systematically destroying the habitability of the planet.

Of course there are other sources of our environmental woes, but tackling animal agriculture is without a doubt the single most powerful thing we can do to reverse the damage we have done. Whether that means reducing your consumption of stopping it altogether is up to you, but going vegan is the ultimate protest. It is taking action every day to make the raising of animals less profitable by decreasing the demand for all animal products.
We vote with our wallets. As long as there’s a market, the exploitation of the environment will continue, but equally, as soon as it stops making money it will disappear. Our governments won’t fix this problem for us. All around the globe they subsidise animal agriculture, and if they ever change that it’ll be because we, the people, demanded it of them. Ultimately if we want anything to change we’re going to have to start with ourselves.

“In her closing remarks on the recent climate change conference of the parties (COP), the executive secretary of the conference, Christiana Figueres, provided a summary of the conclusions of 200 nations, NGOs, and researchers by saying this: “The science is unquestionable. Therefore, despite the obvious effects on the industry itself, we must call for the elimination of the use of coal as an energy source.” And she said, “we must do this immediately.” Notice that she didn’t say, we should use less coal, or for us to only use local, humane coal. In fact, she said we should eliminate coal. Even though coal carries with it roughly the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions (perhaps slightly more) as raising livestock does. And coal has no direct effect on land-use changes, water scarcity, world hunger, biodiversity and all other areas of global depletion that raising and eating animals does.”

Outro

“We have enough information in front of us to make the right decisions, and in doing so we will be seen not just as good stewards, but as superheroes. Who stopped a runaway train with all of us onboard. You can make this happen. You can inspire others to make this happen. But if not you, who? And if not now, when?

We have to act today, because time is running out.”

It seems everyone wants to change the world, so long as they need not change themselves.

~ Leo Tolstoy

~References~

[1] Livestock Impacts on the Environment. Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, 2006.

[2] More and Cleaner Water. Jacobson, Michael F. Six Arguments for a Greener Diet: How a More Plant-based Diet Could save Your Health and the Environment. Washington, DC: Centre for Science in the Public Interest, 2006.

[3] Irrigation & Water Use. United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, 2013.

[4] Water Resources: Agricultural and Environmental Issues. D Pimentel. Oxford Journals, 2004.

[5] Water Content of Things. The World's Water, 2009.

[6] Estimation of the Water Requirement for Beef Production in the United States. JL Beckett. Journal of Animal Science, ?1993.

[7] 2,500 Gallons, All Wet? Robbins, John. EarthSave.

[8] Meateater’s Guide to Climate Change & Health. Environmental Working Group, 2011.

[9] A Global Assessment of the Water Footprint of Farm Animal Products. Mesfin M. Mekonnen and Arjen Y. Hoekstra. Department of Water Engineering and Management, University of Twente, 2012.

[10] Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. Oppenlander, Richard A. Minneapolis, MN: Langdon Street, 2013. Print.

[11] Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options. Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, 2006.

[12] What is a Dead Zone? National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Sep. 2014.

[13] What Causes Ocean "Dead Zones”? Scientific American, 25 Sep. 2012.

[14] Comfortably Unaware. Oppenlander, Richard A.

[15] What’s the Problem? United States Environmental Protection Agency.

[16] Fire Up the Grill for a Mouthwatering Red, White, and Green July 4th. Worldwatch Institute, 2003.

[17] The Causes of Extinction. The Encyclopaedia of Earth.

[18] How Eating Meat Hurts Wildlife and the Planet. Centre for Biological Diversity.

[19] Habitat Loss: Causes and Consequences. Annenberg Learner. Unit 9: Biodiversity Decline, Section 7.

[20] Losing their homes because of the growing needs of humans. WWF.

[21] A Global Assessment of Emissions and Mitigation Opportunities. Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, 2003.

[22] Livestock and Climate Change. Worldwatch, 2009.

[23] Living Planet: Report. World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), 2014.

[24] Causes of Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon. Margulis, Sergio. Washington: World Bank Publications, Working Paper No. 22, 2003.

[25] Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle. National Research Council, 2000. National Academy Press. 232 pp.

[26] Sailesh Rao. Updated from Anthony Barnosky, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Aug 2008.

[27] .

[28] Global Land Use and Biomass Flows Arising from Human Economic Activity. IPCC Assessment Report 5 WG3 Ch11, Fig.11.9 p.836, 2014.

[29] Rao, Jain and Shu, AGU Fall Meeting, Dec. 2015

[30] United Nations World Water Development Report. UN, 2015

[31] Global plans of action endorsed to halt the escalating degradation of soils. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, News, 24 Jul. 2014 

[32] From Decline to Recovery: A rescue package for the Global Ocean, Report Summary. Global Ocean Commission, 2014.

[33] Impacts of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem Services. Worm, Nicola et al., Science, Nov 2006.

[34] Global Diets Link Environmental Sustainability and Human Health. David Tilman & Michael Clark. Nature 518-522, Nov. 2014.

[35] Fossil Fuel in Livestock Systems. Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, 2016.

[36] Dietary Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Meat-Eaters, Fish-Eaters, Vegetarians and Vegans in the UK. Climatic Change, 2014.

[37] The Nine Planetary Boundaries. Stockholm Resilience Centre, Sep. 2009.

[38] Planetary boundaries: Tangible targets are critical. Allen, M. Nature Reports: Climate Change, 2009.

[39] From Ocean to Ozone. Pearce, F. New Scientist, pp. 34–45, 24 Feb, 2010.

[40] A Safe Space. Heffernan, O. Nature Reports: Climate Change, 2009

[41] Planetary Boundaries: Rethinking Biodiversity. Samper, C. Nature Reports: Climate Change, 2009.

[42] Boundaries for a Healthy Planet. Daily G, Foley, J.; et al., eds. Scientific American, 2010.

[43] Evosystem Services: An Evolutionary Perspective on the Links Between Biodiversity and Human Well-Being. Faith et al. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 2010.

[44] Biodiversity: A Crisis in Search of a Policy? Friends of Europe, 2010.

[45] Biodiversity. Pearce, F. New Scientist, p. 33, 24 Feb, 2010.

[46] Planetary boundaries: Thresholds risk prolonged degradation [commentary]. Schlesinger, W. H. Nature Reports: Climate Change, 2009.

[47] The Nitrogen Fix: Breaking a Costly Addiction. Pearce, F. Environment 360, 2009.

[48] New Science and Developments in Our Changing Environment. United Nations Environment Programme. Division of Early Warning and Assessment, pp. 28–29, 2010.

[49] Nitrogen and Phosphorus Cycles. Pearce, F. New Scientist, pp. 33–34, 24 Feb, 2010.

[50] Planetary Boundaries: Guiding Human Development on a Changing Planet. Steffen, W, Richardson, K, et al. Science 347 (6223): 1259855, 2015.

[51] Schematic of the Global Cycle of CH4. IPCC Assessment Report 5 WG1 Ch6, Fig.6.2 p.474, 2013.

[52] Rapid Worldwide Depletion of Predatory Fish Communities [meta-analysis]. Ransom A. Myers & Boris Worm. Nature, 2003.

[53] 2012 Intercessional Plenary Meeting Report. International Scientific Community for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean (ISC), Dec. 2012.

[54] Spreading Dead Zones and Consequences for Marine Ecosystems. Diaz, R. J.; Rosenberg, R. Science, 2008.

[55] Skeptical Science: https://www.skepticalscience.com/methane-and-global-warming.htm

[56] Dynamic Agriculture Book Three (2nd ed.). Brown, L., Hindmarsh, R., Mcgregor, R., McGraw-Hill Book Company, Sydney, 2001.

[57] Relationship between body composition, net feed intake and gross feed conversion efficiency in composite sire line sheep. Knott, S. A., B. J. Leury, L. J. Cummins, F. D. Brien and F. R. Dunshea, 2003.

[58] Wheat-straw as roughage component in finishing diets of growing lambs. Brand, T. S., S. W. P. Cloete and F. Franck. 1991. S. Afr. J. Anim. Sci 21: 184-188.

[59] Nutrient requirements of small ruminants. National Research Council, 2007. National Academies Press. 362 pp.

[60] Live mass, carcass and wool growth responses to supplementation of a roughage diet with sources of protein and energy in South African Mutton Merino lambs. Cronjé. P. B. and E. Weites. 1990. S. Afr. J. Anim. Sci. 20: 141-168

[61] Feedlot growth and efficiency of three-way cross lambs as affected by genotype, age and diet. Malik, R. C., M. A. Razzaque, S. Abbas, N. Al-Khozam and S. Sahni, 1996. Proc. Aust. Soc. Anim. Prod. 21: 251-254.

[62] Discards and bycatch in shrimp trawl fisheries. Clucas Ivor, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, 1997.

[63] Bycatch victims, World Wide Fund for Nature, 2016

[64] How much do oceans add to world’s oxygen? Earth & Sky, June 8, 2015. 

[65] Source of Half Earth's Oxygen Gets Little Credit. Roach, John. National Geographic News, June 7, 2004

[66] Living Blue Planet Report. World Wide Fund for Nature, 2015.

[67] Defining and estimating global marine fisheries bycatch. Davies, R., Cripps, S., Nickson, A., and Porter, G.  Marine Policy, 2009.

[68] A global assessment of fisheries bycatch and discards. Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, 1996.

[69] Changes in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide, Methane and Nitrous Oxide, Technical Summary. Solomon, S.; et al. IPCC Assessment Report 4 WG1, 2007.

[70] Contribution of anthropogenic and natural sources to atmospheric methane variability. Bousquet, P., S. C. Tyler, P. Peylin, G. R. Van Der Werf, C. Prigent, D. A. Hauglustaine, E. J. Dlugokencky, J. B. Miller, P. Ciais, J. White, L. P. Steele, M. Schmidt, M. Ramonet, F. Papa, J. Lathière, R. L. Langenfelds, C. Carouge, and E.-G. Brunke. Nature 443, no. 7110, 439-443, 2006.

[71] Impacts of Bottom Trawling on Fisheries, Tourism, and the Marine Environment. Margot L. Stiles, Julie Stockbridge, Michelle Lande, Michael F. Hirshfield. Oceana, May 2010.

[72] The Future of Biodiversity. S.L. Pimm, G.J. Russell, J.L. Gittleman and T.M. Brooks. Science 269: 347–350, 1995.

[73] State of the Climate in 2014. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Center for Weather and Climate, 2014

[74] The Amazon’s Vicious Cycles. Daniel C. Nepstad. World Wide Fund for Nature, 2012.

[75] Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data. United States Environmental Protection Agency. 2010.

[76] Slaughtering the Amazon. Greenpeace. 1 June, 2009

[77] Livestock, feed and food security. Tara Garnett. Food Climate Research Network, 2010

[78] Looming water crisis is simply a management problem. Chenoweth, J. New Scientist, 20 August 2008, 28-32.

[79] Reducing energy inputs in the United States food system. Pimentel, D. et al. Human Ecology, 2008, 36:459-471.

~Additional Notes~

*A note on nitrogen. It is tempting to say that waste residues from the livestock system such as manure are useful or even necessary. However, the reason that manure is a good fertiliser is because it contains (fixed) nitrogen. Animals cannot actually produce this nitrogen themselves, they get it from their diet. We could just as easily use the original plant sources for fertiliser.

Unused reference:

Sustainability of meat-based and plant-based diets and the environment http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/78/3/660S.full

Useful link:

Beyond factory farming

https://www.ciwf.org.uk/media/3817096/beyond-factory-farming-report.pdf

Bonus clip:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLkC7ralR30

The following diagrams are from the IPCC:

  • Figure 2. Global Land Use and Biomass Flows Arising from Human Economic Activity. Source: [28]

  • Figure 3. Simplified Schematic of the Global Carbon Cycle. Source: [27]

  • Figure 4. Schematic of the Global Cycle of CH4. Source: [51]

All remaining diagrams were created by the author in Inkscape. Citations for specific displayed information can be found in the accompanying text. SVG versions of these images are available on request via email (below).

In the sections ‘What do we do now?’ and ‘Outro’ paragraphs contained in quotation marks (“ ”) are paraphrased / copied mostly from a presentation by Richard Oppenlander (link below). Please keep in mind that this is still a working version and not intended to be final. I’ve kept the paragraphs there for now to show the general aim of those sections.

If you have a queries or questions regarding the document please don’t hesitate to let me know via email (below). I would be especially interested if you think you’ve found any mistakes (or think a source was unreliable / have contrary evidence, etc). Suggestions and criticism are also welcomed.

Author’s email:

luke.gompz@gmail.com

My other things:

Why Vegan?:

docs.google.com/document/d/1lixTupsZZDmRxgWhFOlbd6RPBilf2u…

Cognitive biases:

docs.google.com/document/d/1Zbcx6KTwYo6ncVH9Q7Yxup6p9ZCBU…

Special thanks goes to Richard Oppenlander for this talk: youtube.com/watch… which formed the initial basis of this document. Thanks also goes the The Vegan Activist (youtube.com/channel…) who gave me the motivation to do anything at all.

Last updated: 8 June 2016.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *