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Wild mammals make up 4% of the biomass of global mammal populations, while humans make up 36% and farmed mammals make up 60%. Similarly, farmed chickens make up 70% of the biomass of global bird populations. To sustain these huge farmed animal populations we use vasts amounts of land, resources and produce significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. Our use of non-human animals is significantly impacting the global environment and is a leading cause of environmental destruction. By ending our oppression of farmed animals we can reclaim land for rewilding and significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. To achieve environmental liberation we must understand the link between animal oppression and environmental destruction. Ignoring the oppression of animals comes at the expense of the environment.
This workshop will describe the link between animal and environmental oppression. Participants will discuss why animal oppression is often ignored in the environmental movement and identify ways forward.
Recorded at the Students of Sustainability 2018 conference: http://www.studentsofsustainability.org/
Bramble Cay melomys in June 2016, researchers from Queensland's Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and the University of Queensland jointly reported that the species had indeed become extinct, adding: "Significantly, this probably represents the first recorded mammalian extinction due to anthropogenic climate change".
So what are some of the impacts that animal use has on the environment?
This is the list I’ve come up with. There are lot’s of things in here that will seem obvious, like animal agriculture, and possibly some that might not seem so obvious, conservation attitudes. Hopefully before the end of this presentation you’ll have a clearer picture of how each of these points fits into
In my mind each of these things can be linked back to an initial behaviour rooted in the use of animals and resources, and in turn this is a result of modern societies Domination Attitudes. Which means our belief that it is ok for us to use any of the resources or other animals on earth for human benefit.
So we start with a belief that it’s ok to use other animals, let’s say we think it’s ok to eat their flesh. We act on this belief by creating farms which require to do lot’s of things to grow the animals like cutting down trees. Cutting down these trees directly impacts the local environment by removing habitat and changing an area from a forest to grassland, which are two very different environments and disrupts the local ecosystem. This in turn means that individuals have to move or have died and that the entire environment has changed.
This is just one very simple example and I could have explained how almost anyone of these things is impacted by animal agriculture. This is because the environment is highly interconnected.
Now that you can get a bit of a picture of the larger context within which the environmental impacts of animal agriculture sits we’ll use it to highlight the negative impacts of animal use on the environment and the positive influence that veganism can have.
20% of meat produced is lost or wasted which is equivalent to about 75 Million Cows.
About 50% increase in meat consumption by 2050.
75% of all agricultural land is dedicated to animal agriculture. That’s about 28.5% of the total land service of earth!
As an example of life cycle analysis - The land footprint used to produce the UK food supply is made up by 62.7% grasslands for animal agriculture, 21.8% for cropland grown for animal feed and 15.5% for crops grown for direct human consumption. The land footprint associated with animal products was 20,066 kha, which makes up 85% of the UK food supplies total land footprint. That is a little bit smaller than the total land area of England and Scotland combined.
If we break up the UK food supplies total land footprint into 1% chunks then it is clear that land used to grow animal based foods is extremely inefficient at providing protein for humans. For every 1% of land dedicated to animal production 0.56% of the UK’s protein was produced. In contrast, for every 1% of land dedicated to cereal production 5.5% of the UK’s protein was produced. That means that the same amount of land dedicated to producing cereals delivers about 10X more protein than it would if it were used to grow animal flesh. This highlights the huge resource inefficiencies in using animals flesh for food.
Let’s talk about Animal agriculture contribution to GHG emissions first. Animal agriculture is responsible for about about 18% of total global emissions (Steinfeld et al. 2006). That is more than all global transport emissions. What’s even more important is that a large amount of these emissions are methane. When people talk about farting and belching cows contributing to climate change they are talking about methane gases. Methane is interesting because it acts differently to the more commonly talked about GHG which is CO2. The main difference is that methane stays in the atmosphere for a shorter period of time than CO2, with a life of about 20 years. Which sounds good right? But there’s more, it also has a much greater Global Warming Potential a bit more than 80 times more.. This basically means that it is better at trapping heat in the atmosphere than CO2. So despite it having a shorter life it does a lot more damage while it’s around. By creating more methane we are effectively putting climate change on steroids.
This emissions are much higher than the amount you would produce if you were to get the exact nutritional value from plant-based foods. That means that calorie for calorie, protein for protein plant-based products produce significantly less GHG emissions than those derived from animals. With an average meat eaters diet producing about 2.5X more emissions than a plant-based diet. By shifting to a plant based diet you can reduce your dietary emissions by up to 60% (Scarborough etal 2014). Drastically reducing our dietary emissions is going to be absolutely necessary for achieving a safe climate. One particularly useful aspect of this is that shifting diets can be done relatively quickly, in fact we could do it overnight. Given the short life time of methane if we got rid of the animal agriculture production of methane we would see positive effects quickly. Especially because of it’s higher Global Warming Potential. Ending animal agriculture emissions would be like giving a shot in the arm to the fight against climate change.
There are currently two overarching methods that have been investigated for reducing methane from animal ag. These are 1) through the implementation of farm side efficiencies, which is on farm emission reductions programs like feeding cows different feed, or 2) through demand side reductions in the consumption of animal products, or people shifting to a plant-based diet. When these things are compared it is much cheaper to reduce emissions through consumer side dietary shifts. When implanting farm side efficiencies the cost of food increases drastically, but when relying on consumer dietary shifts food prices actually end up being reduced!
“Using this model, we estimated that 47% of terrestrial non-volant threatened mammals (out of 873 species) and 23.4% of threatened birds (out of 1,272 species) may have already been negatively impacted by climate change in at least part of their distribution.”
Achieving environmental liberation through animal liberation by Adam Cardilini
Achieving Environmental Liberation
Through Animal Liberation.
Adam Cardilini & Nick Pendergrast
Anthropocene - the geological period during which human activity has
been the dominant influence on climate and the environment.
The Anthropocene is led by animal
Created by: Cow – Anna Bearne, Human – Arlem Kovyazin, Kangaroo – See Link, Chicken – Symbolon, Cockatoo – Saeful Muslim.
Yinon etal 2018
Ecosystem Dynamics Range Shifts
Life HistoryEcosystem Collapse
ConflictGreen House Gas
Land Clearing Land Degradation
Species IntroductionsLand Use Change Pollution
Resource Use Animal Use
Animal Agriculture Hunting
• Promotes control over nature.
• Ignores the majority of other animals and has an adversarial
• Focusses on environmental refuges.
• Doesn’t see the removal of animal agriculture as a real
Traditional conservation isn’t working
Environmental liberation can only be
achieved alongside Animal Liberation
Imagine a future where animals are equals:
What are the environmental impacts?
How do we get there?