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How Factory Farming Harms People, Planet and Animals

Assessing the Causes of the Crisis

How did it come to this

There is what you already know

The UK government estimates GHG emissions “based on the number of livestock animals and the amount of nitrogen-based fertiliser applied to land.” but they admit “ A variety of important factors influence emissions which are not captured by this methodology” and they list them “timing of fertiliser application, efficiency of fertiliser use, feed conversion ratios, genetic improvements.” and so they come up with

There is a lot more not counted

  • Eating animals/animal products means high levels of water and land use compared to a plant based diet and is the biggest contributor to land clearing (deforestation). Diets containing meat/dairy contributing indirectly to GHG emissions and contribute more to climate change than all transport – even using the most conservative figures
  • Habitat destruction (e.g. deforestation). Trees absorb CO2. Killing them releases, to plant soya for animal feed releases CO2 into the atmosphere and adds to global warming.
  • The growing and transportation of feed
  • The misuse of water
  • Habitat destruction
United Nations Food & Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO) Livestock’s Long Shadow report 2006 “The livestock sector is a major player, responsible for 18% of GHGs (in CO2equivalent). This is higher than transport.  Livestock produces 37% of methane (23x the global warming potential (GWP) of CO2) and 65% of N2O. (296x GWP )”

World Watch report of 2009

🔗Source: A world watch magazine 2009

And there is much more that can’t be easily accounted for


Ecology is about how the world works, the interdependence between people and the natural world, as well the consequences of human activity on the environment. The Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity Ecosystem Services ( is an independent intergovernmental body, with 130 member states Its 2019 report shows human actions have now significantly altered nature across the globe)

  • 75% of the land based environment and about 66% of the marine environment have been significantly altered
  • Over 33% of the world’s land surface and nearly 75% of freshwater resources are now devoted to crop or livestock production
  • Animal agriculture creates 64% of man made ammonia emissions This contributes to acid rain/acidification of ecosystems (UN Food Agriculture Organisation 2006 Acid rain effects aquatic environments by increasing aluminium absorption from soil The water becomes toxic to some aquatic animals and others in the food chain Soil is robbed of essential nutrients which makes it hard for trees to absorb water Humans can experience asthma and eye irritation as a result of acid rain in inhaled fog (National Geographic 2019)
  • Overfishing has led marine scientists to say that the threat faced by our marine ecosystem is much larger than any other environmental threat like increasing pollution” They have also predicted commercial extinction (not viable for fishing) of marine life if this trend continues (Marine Science Today, 2019)
‘The scientific evidence is irrefutable : we are facing an ecological emergency & the risks of climate change & nature loss for humanity are serious. Governments can no longer turn a blind eye & this (IPBES) report must prompt our leaders into urgent and courageous political action. Healthy ecosystems are the foundation of our societies, our economies, our food production, our health and yet we are destroying them at an alarming rate. With our lifestyles and levels of consumptions, we are robbing future generations of their livelihoods & they will hold us to account for our failure to act.” ESTER ASIN, Director of the WWF

And bringing things up to date

The combined methane emissions of 15 of the world’s largest meat and dairy companies are higher than those of several of the world’s largest countries, including Russia, Canada and Australia, according to a new study. The analysis from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and Changing Markets Foundation found that emissions by the companies – five meat and 10 dairy corporations – equate to more than 80% of the European Union’s entire methane footprint and account for 11.1% of the world’s livestock-related methane emissions. “That just blew my mind,” said Shefali Sharma, director of the IATP’s European office. “We can’t continue to have this handful of companies controlling this many animals.” Methane, expelled by cows and their manure, is far more potent than carbon dioxide, trapping heat 80 times more effectively.
🔗Source: Methane emissions from 15 meat and dairy companies rival those of the EU
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