Dead Zones, Part 3

In our last two blog posts, we’ve been revealing the devastating impact of dead zones, which are areas that have been stripped of marine life by the massive runoff of nitrogen-based synthetic fertilizers, in coastal waters around the world. In the last post, we talked about the fact that a large percentage of the crops grown with these fertilizers are used to feed cattle for slaughter—and these crops aren’t even part of a cow’s natural diet!

Moving backward a bit, the explosion in the number of cattle being raised worldwide has had, and will continue to have, a serious and growing environmental impact. Uppermost on nearly everyone’s list of environmental concerns is global warming. Despite the increasingly shrill claims of “deniers,” global warming is a fact. Some who accept this fact claim human activity has nothing to do with global warming. Well, we suppose that’s possible—it could be just coincidence that current global warming happens to be exactly concurrent with our species’ massive release into the atmosphere over the last century of the greenhouse gasses (such as carbon dioxide and methane) that cause global warming.

In any event, a report published in 2006 by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options, estimated that 18 percent of total annual greenhouse gas emissions were the result of livestock. How, you ask? Well … let’s just say that a great deal of methane is expelled from both ends of a cow. Their, er, waste products also contribute to the problem.

However, concerns have been raised about the measurement methods used by the FAO in estimating these levels of greenhouse gas emissions. A broader accounting that includes factors such as contributions from land changes needed for livestock development has put the overall contribution by livestock of greenhouse gas emissions at a staggering 51 percent!

And believe it or not, we aren’t done yet …

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.