The top environmental organizations and environmentalists should be fighting against the top threat to the environment, right? Well, they’re not.
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Table Of Contents
- Environmental Issue One: Climate Change
- Environmental Issue Two: Water Conservation
- Environmental Issue Three: Fracking
- Environmental Issue Four: Ocean Dead Zones And Over-Fishing
- Environmental Issue Five: Waste Management
- Environmental Issue Six: Species Extinction
- Environmental Issue Seven: Habitat Destruction, Land Usage & Deforestation
- The "Too Long Didn't Read" Version
Most people care about the environment—at least enough to say they do on a study1—and most people have faith that the top environmental agencies in the world are fighting the good fight to remedy the wrongs of humankind, certain that they’re focusing on the core issues with the greatest impact.
Well, today we’re going to look at the top issues championed by environmental agencies—and the vast majority of environmentalists—and see why they’re wrong. So…very…wrong. [tweet this]
And now, on to: Everything Wrong with Environmentalism in 11 Minutes or Less!
Environmental agencies focus on fossil fuels as the “big bad baddy” of greenhouse gas emissions leading to global warming—suggesting alternative energy, carpooling, hybrid cars, and biking—but animal agriculture accounts for more carbon dioxide per year than all transportation methods combined.2
A conservative 2006 study by the United Nations food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)3 found animal agriculture to be responsible for 18% of annual global green house gas emissions. A far more thorough 2009 Worldwatch Institute study—which took into account factors overlooked by the FAO, such as livestock respiration, land use, and methane—found that animal agriculture produces at least 32,564 million tons of carbon dioxide per year—51% of all global emissions. Comparatively, all methods of transportation combined account for only 13% of emissions.4 [tweet this]
And what do the environmental agencies point to? Reducing fossil fuel usage.
If we completely stopped all use of gas, oil, fuel, electricity, et cetera—and never used them ever again—we would still exceed our carbon equivalent greenhouse gas emissions of 565 gigatons by the year 2030—just with the impact of livestock alone.5
So, even if we ceased all use of fossil fuels—which would be the wet dream of every environmental agency—we’d still be gassing out the planet with the one contributor—the main contributor—which they refuse to even address.
In a similar vein, the focus is always almost exclusively on carbon dioxide—but methane is 25-100 times more destructive than carbon dioxide6 and has 86 times the global warming power.7 According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), “37 percent of human-induced methane comes from livestock.”8
If we do reduce the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, as all the organizations call for, it will take around 100 years to see an actual decline—whereas reducing methane shows results almost immediately, with significant results within decades.9 So the proposed solutions are even farther from the mark of actual constructive change.
Additionally, livestock is responsible for 65% of all emissions of nitrous oxide—a greenhouse gas that is 296 times more destructive than carbon dioxide and which stays in the atmosphere for 150 years.10
Put in comparative terms: your average car over an average day of use produces 3-12 kg of carbon dioxide;11 the rainforest-clearing required for a single hamburger produces 75 kg of carbon dioxide.12 In other words, eating one pound of hamburger meat does the same damage as driving your car for more than three weeks.
But is animal agriculture ever mentioned by any of the top environmental organizations or environmentalists in relation to global warming? Nope. They focus on alternative energy, when converting to wind and solar power will take 20-plus years and roughly 43 trillion dollars,13 and going vegan takes seconds and can be even cheaper than being non-vegan.
Environmental protection agencies recommend to use less water, take shorter showers, use a low flow shower head. Here is where you’ll find the greatest variation from my original calculations based on a 5 gallon per minute shower head. This time around, I found that the typical shower head after 1980 emits 2.5 gallons/minute with the low flow emitting no more than 2 gallons/minute.14
If you take daily 15 minute showers with a low-flow shower head, you’ll be saving 2,737.5 gallons per year. If you, instead, forgo one pound of beef one time, you’ll save 2,500 gallons of water15 for one pound of beef. This is a conservative number as figures range all the way to over 8,000 gallons of water for one pound of beef.16
While beef has by far the most egregious water footprint, no animal product is environmentally sustainable: 477 gallons of water are required to produce 1lb. of eggs;17 almost 900 gallons of water are needed for 1lb. of cheese;18 and 1,000 gallons/liters of water are required to produce 1 gallon/liter of milk.19
Environmental agencies focus almost exclusively on curbing home water usage. However, in the United States—for example—only 5% of water is used by private homes, while 55% of is used for animal agriculture.20 Worldwide, 20-33% of all fresh water consumption goes to animal agriculture—that’s up to a third of the planets water.21
If you didn’t consume beef, eggs, milk, or cheese—not even counting other meats or dairy items—based on American consumption habits from 22 and the conservative figures of water per pound, you’d save 222,345 gallons of water that year.23
But the environmental agencies prefer saving 1,825-2,737.5 gallons a year by using a low flow shower head.
|Water Requirements for Select Animal Products|
|Beef||2,500 gallons/lb – 8,000 gallons/lb||20,864 liters/kg – 66,763 liters/kg|
|Eggs||477 gallons/lb||3,981 liters/kg|
|Cheese||896 gallons/lb||7,477 liters/kg|
|Milk||1,000 gallons/gallon||1,000 liters/liter|
|Butter||109 gallons/stick||413 liters/stick|
|Greek Yogurt||90 gallons/single 6 oz serving||341liters/177mL serving|
If we added in all forms of dairy and meat for the average American 26 a single vegan year would save approximatelyand use a very conservative average of 1,500 gallons per pound for the remaining and an even more conservative 600 gallons for the remaining
Not only does that blow every water conservation recommendation out of the water, but look at it this way: to save the same amount of water as being vegan for a single year, you would have to not shower at all for almost tweet this][
And the advice of the supposed environmental champions: shower less, turn off the water while soaping your hands, run your sprinklers at night. Because that’s how we’re going to change the world.
Fracking is the new golden child of environmentalists and their leading organizations. Fracking is destroying the planet! It’s polluting the waters!
In the United States alone, fracking uses from 70-140 billion gallons of water.27 Keep in mind for the big numbers that a thousand seconds is 17 minutes, a million seconds is 12 days, a billion seconds is 31.7 years, and a trillion seconds is 31,709.8 years.
In the United States alone, animal agriculture uses 34-76 trillion gallons of water annually.28
Taking into account the exponential difference between a billion and a trillion, animal agriculture in the United States consumes anywhere from 486 to over 1,000 times (1,086) more water than fracking, the largest threat to water according to environmentalists. [tweet this]
90 million tons of fish are pulled from our oceans each year.30
For every one pound of fish caught, up to five pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as by-kill.31
We could see fishless oceans by 2048.32
And what’s suggestion of the major ocean protection organizations?: “sustainable” fishing.33 There is no way to make 100 million tons of fish by 2050 sustainable—especially given the 5 pounds of by-catch for every one pound of fish.
Environmental agencies focus on industrial waste and the disposal and sanitation of human waste while a farm with 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000 people36 and it is entirely untreated. [tweet this]
In fact, every minute, 7 million pounds of excrement are produced by animals raised for food in the United State alone.37 This doesn’t include the animals raised outside of USDA jurisdiction or in backyards, or the billions of fish raised in aquaculture settings in the United States.38
All of the waste from animal agriculture has no proper management system, leading to ground water and ocean pollution.
Perhaps they don’t want to address the fecal issue because they themselves are full of…moving on.
For a full DUMP of facts on the impact of animal waste, see “The Public Health Crisis of Animal Waste – Our Global Poo Problem.”
We are currently facing the largest mass extinction in 65 million years.39 Up to 137 plant, animal and insect species are lost every day due to rainforest destruction,40 the leading cause of which is animal agriculture.
At some point in the 50 years prior to 1900, the biomass of humans surpassed that of wild terrestrial animals. By 1900, the combined biomass of humans and domesticated animals was almost 5 times the total of wild terrestrial animals. Over the lifespan of a single human, that ratio saw a 7-fold increase. By 2000, the biomass of humans and the animals we raise for food had risen to 35 times that of wild terrestrial animals.41
“Domesticated” animals alone saw a 3.5-fold increase from 1900 to 2000, resulting in a biomass 25 times that of wild terrestrial animals and over two times that of humans.42 According to researcher and Professor Emeritus Vaclav Smil:
Cattle zoomass alone is now at least 250 times greater than the zoomass of all surviving African elephants, which in turn is less than 2 percent of the zoomass of Africa’s nearly 300 million bovines.43
According44 to an interview conducted by Dr. Richard Oppenlander with Dr. Simon Stuart, chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature species survival commission:
Habitat loss from grazing livestock and feed crops is far and away the most pervasive threat to terrestrial animal species, impacting 86% of all mammals, 88% of amphibians, and 86% of all birds. One in every eight birds, one in every three amphibians, and one in every four mammals is facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the near future.45
The Alliance for Global Conservation estimates 36 percent of all species on our planet are in danger of extinction. And what are the major species protection organizations recommending?: wildlife rehabilitation and conservation, fighting poaching, and breeding programs. Way to throw a bandaid on an open artery. I’m sure it will hold.
A third of the planet is desertified, with livestock as the leading cause.46
Nearly half of the contiguous United States is devoted to animal agriculture.47
1.5 acres can produce 37,000 pounds of plant-based food and only 375 pounds of meat.48
136 million rainforest acres have been cleared for animal agriculture; 1-2 acres of rainforest are cleared every second.51
In fact, animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91 percent of Amazon Rainforest destruction.52
A single quarter-pounder burger takes 55 square feet of rainforest to produce.53
But what do the major rainforest protection agencies focus on primarily? Palm oil and pulp production.
Animal agriculture is:
- The leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions leading to global warming54
- Uses a third of the earth’s fresh water55
- Up to 45 percent of the earth’s land56
- Is responsible for 91 percent of Amazon Rainforest destruction57 with 1-2 acres being cleared every second58
- And is a leading cause of species extinction,59 ocean dead zones,60 and habitat destruction61
Environmental agencies not only do not focus on animal agriculture, the absolute most devastating and pervasive single cause of multi-dimensional environmental destruction, but they actually refuse to even acknowledge it.
And individual environmentalists, by and large, perhaps as a consequence or by their own social indoctrination, aren’t even aware of this issue despite devoting themselves to championing the environment.
For the wrap up:
The actual problem is animal agriculture and the actual solution is a vegan diet.
Compared to a meat-lover, a person who follows a vegan diet:
- produces the equivalent of 50 percent less carbon dioxide,
- uses 1/11th the oil,
- uses 1/13th the water, and
- uses 1/18th the land.62
Every day, following a vegan diet saves, on average:
- 1,100 gallons of water,
- 45 pounds of grain,
- 30 square ft of forested land,
- 20 pounds carbon dioxide equivalent, and
- one animal’s life63
Given all of these facts, it’s abundantly clear that veganism is the only answer to the environmental crisis and the environmental organizations collective failure to recognize this fact leave them with a wrongness tally total of: 13,766 (counted up throughout the video)—qualifying them for an ultimate score of: More Full Of Fecal Matter Than The 7 Million Tons Produced Every Second By Farm Animals In The United States.
It’s time to get real. You cannot be an environmentalist and a non-vegan. It’s now beyond personal choice and allowing everyone their dietary preference. The earth cannot sustain the way we eat. This is a fact and it’s fast approaching critical mass. At this point, there is no reason to keep eating animals other than the purely selfish reason of not wanting to change our habits.
If we want our children to have a world to live on, we have to stop being so childish ourselves regarding our diets and cut out the crap.
I hope you enjoyed this fact-riddled nugget. Please share it around to wake people up to the importance of this issue and feel free to tag any of the major environmental agencies when you share!
The time it took to produce this video clocks in at about 68 hours. If you’d like to help support bite size vegan so I can keep putting in the long hours to bring you this educational resources, please check out the support page.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post in the comments!
— Emily Moran Barwick
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Corrections & Clarifications
The following is a list of errors found within the video for this article:
- At 2:10, I say “metric tons” instead of “million tons.” “Million tons” is correct and was caught in editing and displayed properly onscreen in the video
- At 2:26, I say “32,654” instead of “32,564.” “32,564” is correct and was caught in editing and displayed properly onscreen in the video
- At 7:43, I say “486,” but “466” is displayed onscreen. 486 is correct and an onscreen annotation was added to the video. (Note, YouTube has now deprecated the annotation function on videos, so this is no longer visible).
- At 10:23, I say “37,000,” but “37,0000” is displayed onscreen. 37,000 is obviously correct and an annotation was added to the video. (Note, YouTube has now deprecated the annotation function on videos, so this is no longer visible).
- At 10:32, I say “1/6th Acre,” but “1/16th Acre” is displayed onscreen. 1/6th Acre is correct and an annotation was added to the video. (Note, YouTube has now deprecated the annotation function on videos, so this is no longer visible).