These Two Industries are Becoming the Biggest Polluters on the PlanetJan 16, 2019
It’s safe to say that the cheeseburger is one of the most popular menu items in the world. Unfortunately, that popularity comes with a high cost. The ugly truth behind our love of burgers and dairy is that the agriculture required to keep up with demand is damaging our planet.
In terms of the greenhouse gas that’s poisoning our ozone, just 13 percent comes from transportation. Not just cars, ALL transportation. On the other hand, a whopping 51 percent of greenhouse case is a direct result of animal agriculture – especially, beef. To put it bluntly, cow farts are ruining our air.
It’s not just all that cow flatulence floating around, though. The beef industry is sucking up the water supply at a crazy rate. Taking a shorter shower or opting not to water your lawn in the middle of a dry spell is a noble effort, but forgoing steak would save more water. Think about this for a second: eating one quarter-pound beef hamburger is the equivalent to showering for two months in terms of water usage.
What it Takes to Raise Livestock
The sheer amount of resources required to keep up with the world’s demand for beef is simply staggering. Estimates vary as to how much water is required to produce a pound of beef, but put the ballpark figure in the range of 1,846 to 2,500 gallons.
From ocean dead zones to wiping out acre after acre of rainforest and plant / animal species in it, raising beef is a doozy of a gut punch to mother Earth.
With the Earth’s population being five times what it was just 100 years ago, our planet simply doesn’t have the land or water to keep up with the ever-growing agriculture demand. Humans may be gobbling up farm livestock and their by-products left and right, but that livestock is what is really depleting our planet’s resources at an alarming rate.
In terms of the bad actors out there responsible for driving this speeding meat train that’s destined to eventually run out of track, which ones are the worst? A recent analysis from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and GRAIN offers new insight on the biggest polluters on the planet.
These are the top five meat and dairy polluters.
5. Fontera: With a headquarters in Auckland, New Zealand and ownership by more than 10,000 New Zealand dairy farmers its responsible for 30% of the world’s dairy exports and 41.5 metric tons of greenhouse gas.
4. Dairy Farmers of America: This United States milk marketing cooperative serves more 8,500 dairy farms in the lower 48 states. Headquartered in Kansas City, Kansas it had a hand in producing 52.2 metric tons of greenhouse gases last year.
3. Cargill Incorporated: The global company based in Minnetonka, Minnesota is a power player in grain and livestock feed with a mind-boggling $114.695 billion in revenue. They also produced 83.3 metric tons of greenhouse gases.
2. Tyson Foods: Headquartered in Springdale, Arkansas, Tyson has been an American supermarket staple since 1935 and cranked out 118 metric tons of greenhouse gases last year.
1. JBS: Located in São Paulo, Brazil, the company had $51.5 billion in revenue in 2017 and spit out 280.2 metric tons of greenhouse gases.
Out of the 35 companies examined in the report, only four provided complete emission estimates: NH Foods (Japan), Nestlé (Switzerland), FrieslandCampina (the Netherlands) and Danone (France).
Given that the other 31 companies didn’t provide full transparency, the amount of methane gas they’re spewing out through livestock production could be much higher. And because these corporations have money and power, they’re able to push back and turn scientific facts about climate change into a political debate.
“These corporations are pushing for trade agreements that will increase exports and emissions, and they are undermining real climate solutions like agroecology that benefit farmers, workers and consumers,” said Devlin Kuyek, a researcher at GRAIN.
The report goes on to estimate that if these corporations continue with business-as-usual, 80% of the carbon budget agreed to under the Paris Agreement that was signed by 190 countries, could be used up by the livestock sector.
So what’s the solution?
Well, eat fewer animal products or even better, don’t eat them at all.
Joseph Moore, one of the authors of a paper recently published in the Journal of Science says that a vegan diet is the best thing you can do for the planet. “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use,” he explains.
Black bean burgers might not be as mouth-watering as a black angus at the start, but it’s difficult to justify using 460 gallons of water just to satisfy a burger craving.