Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101


Do you consider yourself an ‘environmentalist’, a ‘greenie’? Someone who makes eco-friendly choices wherever they go, from having short showers to buying snacks with biodegradable packaging? Well if your diet is meat and dairy based, you are still contributing to the leading cause of harm and damage to our planet. So just what kind of impact are we talking about here?


The exhaust produced from all modes of transportation combined, accounts for 13% of all greenhouse gases. However, greenhouse gases from the animal agriculture industry is the biggest threat to our environment. According to a report issued by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide per year that is due to livestock and their byproducts. If the world continues to produce greenhouse gas emissions at this rate, an article in the journal, Nature, estimates that these emissions caused by animal agriculture will increase to 80% by 2050. Methane produced from cows is another major concern. According to an article in the journal, ‘Proceedings of the national academy of sciences of the United States of America’, cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane per day. That methane accounts for more damage than you may think. According to a press release from the United Nations, reducing methane from animal agriculture is of dire importance. It could create almost immediate tangible effects, such as relieving the earth from of global warming, thereby slowing down climate change. If less people consumed a meat based diet, there would be less need for breeding cows at such an intense rate, resulting in fewer emissions from methane and the protection of our planet from climate change.


The impact that the production and consumption of meat and dairy has on mother earth is one that is often overlooked, but nonetheless, has a devastatingly large impact. We think we’re doing our part by fixing leaky taps and turning off the tap when brushing our teeth. Yet, just 5% of water is consumed in private homes, while 55% of water consumed is used for animal production. Let’s have a look at just how much water is used for the production of meat and dairy:

  • Over 9000 litres of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef
  • Over 1600 litres of water are needed to produce 1 pound of eggs
  • Over 3400 litres of water are needed to produce 1 pound of cheese
  • Over 3700 litres of water are needed to produce 3 litres of milk


In regards to our oceans, marine life could be a thing of the past by 2028 if the fishing industry continues to capture and kill sea animals at the rate that it is, the ocean already being a limited source. By-kill is another major problem. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, up to 5 pounds of marine life are caught and discarded for every 1 pound of fish caught.


According to an article published by the UN, livestock and/or livestock feed fills 1/3 of the earth’s land. A report issued by the United States Environmental Protection Agency has found that a city with a population of 411,000 people produces the same amount of waste as a farm with 2500 dairy cows.

rainforestAs many of us are we aware, rainforest destruction and reforestation is a major problem and threat to the planet. According to a report published by the World Bank, 91% of amazon destruction is due to animal agriculture. Growing food for animals and raising those animals to be used as food is the leading cause of rainforest destruction.

Giving up meat and giving up dairy is not simply a personal choice. Every hour, over 6 million animals are killed for food. This is despite the fact that there is currently enough food grown for 10 billion people, in a world where 12.9% of the population are still undernourished. Every day you have the choice of saving a life, or taking a life. What will it be today?

For more information watch Cowspiracy on Netflix!



Livestock and Climate Change. What if the key actors in climate change are…cows, pigs and chickens?, World Watch, 4/5/16,


David Tilman & Michael Clark, DT MC 2014, Global diets link environmental sustainability and human health, Regis University, 4/5/16,


Phillip Ross, PR 2013, Cow Farts Have ‘Large Greenhouse Gas Impact’ Thank Previously Thought; Methane Pushes Climate Change, ibtimes, 4/5/16,


Industry Leaders, including Energy Companies, Forge Partnerships to Advance Climate Solutions and Reduce Short- Lived Climate Pollutants, United Nations, 3/5/16,


How important is irrigation to US Agriculture? USDA ERS, 4/5/16,


Water – 2011 Meat Eaters Guide, Environmental Working Group, 4/5/16,


Arjen Y. Hoekstra, AH, The water footprint of food, Water for Food, 4/5/16,


Argument #4. More and Cleaner Water, Centre for science in the public interest, 4/5/16,


Rearing cattle produces more greenhouse gases than driving cars, UN report warns, United Nations News Centre, 4/5/16,


Risk Management Evaluation For Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, United States Environmental Protection Agency, 4/5/6, 


John Roach, JR 2006, Seafood may be gone by 2048, Study Says, National Geographic, 4/5/16,


Discards and bycatch in Shrimp trawl fisheries, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, 4/5/16,


Sergio Margulis, SM 2004, Causes of Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon, World Bank, 4/5/16,


Farm Animal Statistics: Slaughter Totals, The Humane Society, 4/5/16,


Eric Holt Gimenez, EHG 2012, We already grow enough food for 10 billion people…and still can’t end hunger, Common Dreams, 4/5/16,


Hunger Statistics, World Food Programme, 4/5/16,


Average Daily footprint of diet, 4/5/16,!Help-Californias-Drought-By-Going-Vegan-You-Wont-Believe-the-Numbers/cjds/552ad20c0cf21d84af97fbd7,


Rainforest Clearance in Brazil, Getty Images, 4/5/16,


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This entry was posted on May 8, 2016 by in Burwood - Wednesday 11am, Uncategorized.

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