As promised, this post will discuss why green technologies like the biogas digester cannot fully ensure that animal farming will be totally unpollutive, and I argue that a dietary revolution is a complete overkill. Slight modifications to the diet and preferences for meat will suffice. The content used in this post is really a mix from what I have gathered from the different modules I have taken in this semester.
PAVE poster. The production of dairy milk, to satisfy man’s dietary preference, demands a disproportionately high amounts of water
Which livestock takes more ecological footprints to raise? A picture taken in another geography class tutorial.
With this 2 posters, I wish to posit that the ecological footprint, environmental pollution and degradation effects like Greenhouse effects and global warming caused by animal farming have to be measured at different sources and stages of creation, production, transport and consumption.
Creation of land for grazing and feeds
For livestock like chickens, hogs and cows, the amount of feed needed to raise these livestock necessitates the deforestation of vegetation for the cropping of the feed. Such deforestation reduces the potential of the vegetation to function as carbon sinks. This can thus result in the emission of CO2. Similarly, the creation of pasture and grazing land also demands deforestation (Mohr, 2005). (For more specific details, please refer to my “Monoculture Farming Part 2: Air Pollution (3)”
Production of food produce
As suggested in the PAVE poster, the production of a unit of milk requires an input of 2000 units of water. The production of milk is thus water-inefficient. While this is not directly related to environmental pollution, looking back at the example of the hog carcasses disposal incident in China, the production and management of the food produce, and their waste can become a water pollution problem if regulations are lax and not adhered to.
Transport of Food produce
Many cities import their food produce. A city is built such that it is not self-sufficient. It has to rely on its surrounding regions for many materials and resources because a city has outsourced many of its activities such as food production and etc. This propels cities to import, or get food from over long distances. In the case of Singapore, a city-state, the import of food is a necessity. Food can be flown in from long distances or driven in via the courseway. Nonetheless, the point I want to make is that food, regardless of meat, poultry or even vegetables, travel over long distances and this translate to a high carbon emission of food transport.
Consumption of food
While vegetarians can be equally guilty of contributing to Greenhouse effect, I think the worst culprits are the red-meat lovers. In Smil (2002) paper, he clearly shows that cows are the most inefficient meat to produce. Every 1kg of beef produce requires a more than proportionate 10 kg worth of feed. So a single dairy farm, as compared to a poultry farm, contributes to more carbon emission (through the consumption of feed grown on deforested land).
So red-meat lovers, beware!
Stay Tuned 😀
Mohr, N. (2005). A New Global Warming Strategy How Environmentalists are Overlooking Vegetarianism as the Most Effective Tool Against Climate Change in Our Lifetimes. [online] Earthsave.org. Available at:http://www.earthsave.org/news/earthsave_global_warming_report.pdf [Accessed 21 Mar. 2015].