If I were to ask you what the leading causes of global climate change are, your replies would probably be something along the lines of power stations, transportation emissions and deforestation. These replies have probably come from what you’ve been fed via various media outlets throughout the years. We were all told to walk to work, take shorter showers and to turn that TV off standby. I always remember being quite sceptical about how much good that actually does and turns out it isn’t that much; the problem is a WHOLE lot greater!
Shocking documentaries seem to be getting more and more popular these days, especially in the wake of ‘Blackfish’ that was released in 2013. I had reservations towards the facts in ‘Cowspiracy’ as the facts stated in ‘Blackfish’ has no scientific validation behind them. I also believe, and don’t judge me on this, that global climate change is more important than captive animals. In fact, due to the effects of climate change I think the roles that zoos and aquariums play have never been more important. With ‘Cowspiracy’ being recently added to Netflix I decided to devote 90 minutes of my life educating myself and I genuinely don’t think my outlook on meat consumption will ever be the same.
With only one year left at university before I graduate as a zoologist, environmental issues are obviously something that interest me. I do however think the health of the planet is something everyone should take an interest in. I don’t want to give too much of the documentary away but I do want to make you intrigued enough to go watch so here is a few facts from it to make you think…
- Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.
- Agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of US water consumption.
- 2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef.
- Livestock or livestock feed occupies 1/3 of the earth’s ice-free land
- Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.
- Animals produce enough waste to cover SF, NYC, Tokyo, etc.
- For every 1 pound of fish caught, up to 5 pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as by-kill.
- Scientists estimate as many as 650,000 whales, dolphins and seals are killed every year by fishing vessels.
- Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction.
- 1-2 acres of rainforest are cleared every second
These facts absolutely terrify me and although I don’t want in any way to preach to people, I hope they make you think too. More importantly, these facts also have scientific citations so they are 100% verified and true. The one that is particularly poignant to me is how it takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef! That’s that much water for a burger basically! I am by no means going to become vegan either but I will certainly reduce the amount of meat and dairy products I eat. I am even considering excluding beef from my diet. Unfortunately, with 7 billion people on this planet, the way we gorge on meat is so unsustainable and will result in mass extinctions and global habitat degradation.
Fortunately, as I am a scientist, I do believe in the power of science and hope that as a highly intelligent species we can do something to combat this and make agriculture a lot more sustainable. I do not think everyone on this planet are selfless enough to go vegan to save it. Something needs to change now and I really wanted to spread this message a little. So please, if you find yourself bored and fancy a night with Netflix watch ‘Cowspiracy’! It’ll be an eye opener and I highly recommend.