Impacts of meat production on the environment
Different agricultural methods are used for meat production in different regions of the world. However, all the available methods have a number of negative environmental effects. The most common and adverse impacts include air pollution, land degeneration, and water pollution (Adler & Lawler, 2012). Meat-producing factories require great areas. The animal farms discharge unpleasant odors into the atmosphere, hence affecting communities living around. In the process of production, most factories use fossil fuels, and this contributes to the global carbon emissions. The emission of carbon has resulted in the global warming crisis, currently facing the world. In addition to competing for space, competition for water is another challenge caused by meat production.
Mass production of meat requires large amounts of water. The commercial feasibility and value of meat production have surpassed the human need for water. Entrepreneurs are overly concerned of making money, hence draining significant quantities of the available water resources for their own commercial use. In addition to this, most meat-producing firms drain their wastes into rivers, which are the main sources of water that sustains a healthy ecosystem. The trend of meat consumption is rapidly gaining popularity. Undoubtedly, the growing global population will ultimately lead to an increase in the demand for meat.
Water requirements of livestock
Livestock exerts stress on the available human water resources. Water is a scarce resource that is essential for the survival of both humans and livestock. Farmers have had a difficult time providing their livestock with water. Considering a few examples, dairy cattle require an average of about 50 liters of water daily (Adler & Lawler, 2012). The same is true for beef cattle, while a swine requires close to 20 liters of water in a day. Sheep and goats require an average of 10 liters of water in a day (Adler & Lawler, 2012). These are the most common animals raised for human consumption in most parts of the world.
The requirements and the strain on natural resources clearly show that animal consumption will not be sustainable. This practice is not stable with the current trend considering the fact that many farmers abandon farming in favor of other industrial pursuits.
The human/animal conflict on land is a looming danger especially with the increase in human population. Human population requires land to settle, while animals require the same for grazing. Even discounting the human demand for animal food products, the question of land use still lingers (Weber & Matthews, 2008). Animals, just like humans beings, need to feed in order to be productive whether in producing meat, milk or any other product. The growth of urban areas and infrastructure is a major threat to farming and can have devastating impacts on animal consumption. Industrialization has taken precedence leading to the usage of land without any allocations for grazing. In any nation, there are government policies that govern and protect industrial areas, but the same is not done for farmland.
As the demand for animal products heightens, land for expansion in farming is rapidly getting used up, hence the looming shortage. Research has shown that about 40% of the total agricultural outputs in most developed countries are animals raised for human consumption (Pollan, 2006). Crops used to feed these animals, therefore, account for one third of the entire arable land (Pollan, 2006). With the growing population and the rising demand for animal products, suppliers are forced to overgrazing their little pieces of land. This ultimately leads to a decline in the quality of land, hence affecting other factors of production like farming.
Livestock play a very significant role in the stability of the global food security. Apart from providing food for humans, livestock are essential in human survival. With the increase in demand for animal products, livestock breeding provides employment for many people, hence acting as a source of income. However, without regulations livestock can negatively influence food security. With the commercialization of livestock products, the world’s edible crops are being used for raising animals, hence reducing supplies for human consumption. Some of these crops can be used to feed humans directly. Large tracts of land used to plant food crops are now used to grow Napier-grass for dairy cows, hence reducing the amount of food produced.
To address these issues, policy makers and governments have to implement laws and policies to regulate and protect the affected sectors. While animal consumption raises revenues in food trade, the increase in financial gain compromises our food security. Therefore, feeding the entire world is an aim that can be achieved, but this will only happen when all the factors of agricultural production are regulated and controlled. Farming and animal consumption have the potentials of making the world we live either a better or a worse place. Animal consumption, if not regulated, can be disastrous and result in a threat to human existence, and at the present, the world seems to be headed in that direction.
Adler, J & Lawler, A. (2012). How the Chicken Conquered the World. Smithsonian magazine. Web.
Pollan, M. (2006). The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. New York, NY: Penguin Press.
Weber, C. L., & Matthews, H. (2008). Food-miles and the relative climate impacts of food choices in the United States. Environ Sci Technol, 42(10): 3508-3513.