Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

Animal Agriculture; The silent killer.

Fossil fuels, logging, transport… Media is known to show one side to every story, but why is our media showing no sides to the biggest environment tragedy of our time?

Little is known on the dangers of agriculture and how much what we eat is effecting our environment. Water usage nationally and internationally of beef and dairy farming are more than would ever be published as well as land usage (not even touching on the destruction of natural wonders just for grazing) and lets all take a moment to remember the cow fart phenomenon.

The big news about cow farts being one of the leading factors of global warming came up in around 2014 and the jokes occurred after, with no real question of how to reduce this cow fart misery. The facts were told that “the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport” oh which shocked the world but never was there a proposed plan to lessen this impact.


The reason that ‘cow farts’ are such an impact on our environment is because the methane gas that they produce in their stomachs is actually  “twenty one times more potent at trapping heat from the Sun than carbon dioxide” and the sheer amount of cows used for agriculture on our planet is around 1.5 billion.

cow farts

You heard right, BILLION.

So you can see why their impact is so large right? The original omnivorous prey has become over populated, over fed, and changed over the course of thousands of years. Its been adapted to terrain it was never evolutionary designed to be in. Its been reproduced all its life time and drained of its milk and then killed for its beef. Its a two dollar cheese burger at McDonald’s.

There are studies currently researching how this methane production could be cut. One study in Britain suggests that feeding cows garlic could reduce the impact by up to 50%. Another suggests changing the genetics of cows to come.

But is it really in our hands to change the diets and genetics of an animal humans have meddled with since the start of time? How are we sure we can create a better environment for future generations?

What about the simple answer? Cutting down our intake of beef.

Now its always conversational when someone asks a blanket action to be stopped, like changing diets, but it needs to be thought of rationally.

When Australia got stuck in its serious drought, we all jumped into our four minute showers and got water tanks at our houses. When we heard about transports effect on the environment, we all got on our public transport,started national ‘walking to school’ days and started educating our children on how their actions can effect the environment.

Why is the same standard not put in place here? If it can be proven that cow agriculture is effecting our planet in such a way (which it has been) then why does no one really stand up and fight about it?


One comment on “Animal Agriculture; The silent killer.

  1. flickgordon
    May 2, 2016

    I understand your concern and you make some good points here, however this is a one sided view of the issue. The cattle which are used as producers of milk are not the same stock used for beef.
    You make a call for action at the end of your blog and I think this is a good thing. It is evidently having a negative effect, however this action will not be as simple as the general public using public transport or cutting down showers. The webpage ‘World Beef & Cattle Statistics’ by Beef2Live, states that “Cow milk is the most produced (by value) food commodity in the world followed by rice and beef”. This means that every individual in the world must cut down on beef as well as all dairy products such as butter, cream, cheese and, of course, milk. The cattle industry goes beyond farmers. If you reduce the numbers of cattle, this will have a negative effect on agricultural businesses, companies such as butchers, all companies producing or selling dairy products and transport companies who are involved in the transportation of livestock or milk products.

    It may not be that people do not want to take action, but more how action can be taken as the simple answer may cause more harm than good.


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This entry was posted on May 1, 2016 by in Geelong - Friday 3pm.

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