It seems like burning fossil fuels is all that is ever talked about but in reality, raising livestock produces more greenhouse gases than the emissions of the entire transportation sector. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of environmental destruction (according to the World Bank Group, animal agriculture is responsible for 51% of human-caused climate change).
The global livestock industry takes an enormous toll on the environment: raising animals for food is responsible for 30% of the world’s water consumption, occupies up to 45% of the Earth’s land, is responsible for up to 91% of Brazilian Amazon destruction, is a leading cause for ocean ‘’dead zones’’, habitat destruction and species extinction. What is more, the global livestock industry produces a significant amount of potent pollution because of the animal waste and veterinary medicines that seep into water and soil.
Besides animal agriculture, and burning fossil fuels, there is even a greater issue that is not being addressed: the global fishing industry. In a documentary called ,,Seaspiracy’’ it is said that by continued extraction of fish out of our oceans we are essentially deforesting our oceans by not only removing the fish but moreover the methods of removal. The most destructive way of fishing is called trawling. The nets are so enormous, they could fit entire cathedrals and a dozen jumbo jets. The nets drag its catch at the bottom, scarring the seafloor by doing so, leaving behind nothing more but a wasteland.
25 million acres of land is deforested every year, which is horrible, however, the case is much worse for marine life - 3.9 billion acres of seafloor gets deforested annually.
And the reason its damage is so severe is that when people look at fishing, they are only looking at the ones that were consumed by humans and not all the animals who are caught as bycatch (close to 30 billion animals are pulled out of the ocean yearly) Nowadays fish are being caught through massive fishnets. For every 0.45 kg of fish caught, there is up to 2.2 kg of untargeted species trapped as bi-kill (such as dolphins, whales, sea turtles, and sharks) and that is happening in our oceans every single day.
Some might wonder, what does all of this have to do with climate change, 93% of the world's CO2 is stored in the ocean with the help of marine vegetation, algae, and coral. They are all interconnected with other sea creatures. For example, when dolphins and whales come to the surface to breathe, they fertilize phytoplankton (which absorbs 4 times the amount of carbon dioxide than the amazon rainforest does and generates up to 85 percent of the oxygen we breathe). So killing off those animals means that the organisms, who absorb carbon, will die too, and hence, a larger amount of carbon will stay in our atmosphere.
Considering these statements, it seems obvious that the best way to help the situation would be to simply stop contributing to these industries (stop eating or at least reduce the consumption of animal products).
But why don't the big environmental organizations talk about the obvious reasons behind global warming? One of the theories behind that was pointed out in ,,Cowspiracy’’. The main reason might be: they want to get as many contributions and donations as possible and if they get identified as ‘’anti-meat’’ and start calling people out for their harmful habits (that is rooted deep in them), that will hurt their fundraising.
They do not want to address the primary cause of environmental devastation(animal agriculture & commercial fishing), because essentially they are still businesses. And they want to make sure that they have a reliable source of funding.
This article is greatly inspired by documentaries ,, Cowspiracy" and ,,Seaspiracy". If you want to educate yourself on the ill-effects that our planet is dealing with because of human activity, these documentaries (which are available on Netflix) are a great source to do so.
Margarita is an Estonian volunteer in Praxis organisation involved in the World Earth Day campaign.