How big is animal agriculture on earth


Animal agriculture puts a heavy strain on many of the Earth’s finite land, water and energy resources. In order to accommodate the 70 billion animals raised annually for human consumption, a third of the planet’s ice-free land surface, as well as nearly sixteen percent of global freshwater, is devoted to growing livestock.

Livestock takes up nearly 80% of global agricultural land, yet produces less than 20% of the world’s supply of calories (as shown in the visualization).Oct 3, 2017


What are some of the facts about animal agriculture?

Some of the facts are astounding. For example, animal agriculture is responsible for emitting 18% of all greenhouse gasses, and this is expected to increase 80% by the year 2050. The production of one calorie of animal protein requires ten times more fossil fuels than it takes to produce one calorie of plant protein.

How much of Earth’s land is used for agriculture?

Half of all habitable land is used for agriculture. 2 This leaves only 37% for forests; 11% as shrubs and grasslands; 1% as freshwater coverage; and the remaining 1% – a much smaller share than many suspect – is built-up urban area which includes cities, towns, villages, roads and other human infrastructure.

What is animal agriculture and factory farming?

Animal agriculture, or factory farming as it’s commonly known, is the mass industrialization of the breeding, raising, and slaughter of animals for human consumption.

How much land is used to raise animals for food?

Land Raising animals for food (including land used for grazing and land used to grow feed crops) now uses a staggering 30% of the Earth’s land mass. Seven football fields’ worth of land is bulldozed every minute to create more room for farmed animals and the crops that feed them.


How big is the animal agriculture industry?

Farmers’ sales of livestock, dairy, and poultry account for over half of U.S. agricultural cash receipts. Since 2015, cash receipts from animal products have exceeded $160 billion per year.

How much of Earth’s land is used for agriculture 2020?

38 percentGlobally agricultural land area is approximately five billion hectares, or 38 percent of the global land surface. About one-third of this is used as cropland, while the remaining two-thirds consist of meadows and pastures) for grazing livestock.

How big is the average animal farm?

Farms and Land in Farms Highlights The average farm size for 2019 is 444 acres, up 1 acre from the previous year. Farm numbers and land in farms are differentiated by six economic sales classes.

Is animal agriculture destroying the planet?

Animal agriculture is the number one source of methane worldwide, and methane is 21 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than CO2. Animal agriculture produces more than 100 million tons of methane a year. 51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture.

What percentage of crops are fed to animals?

“More than half the U.S. grain and nearly 40 percent of world grain is being fed to livestock rather than being consumed directly by humans,” Pimentel said. “Although grain production is increasing in total, the per capita supply has been decreasing for more than a decade.

How much of agriculture is for animal feed?

When excluding grasslands and only taking account of land used for growing crops, the report concludes that 63 per cent of arable land is used to produce animal feed instead of food for human consumption.

How many farm animals are there on Earth?

We have to stop the spread of factory farming, before it is too late. The world’s population now exceeds seven billion; in just five years, the number of farm animals reared for food globally has risen from 60 billion a year to just over 70 billion.

How many acres are farmed in the world?

New map shows 4.62 billion acres of cropland globally.

What percentage of animals are livestock?

A staggering 60 percent of all mammals on the planet are livestock, according to a new study. The Biomass Distribution on Earth, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, assessed all life on the planet – drawing some sobering conclusions about the impact of humanity.

What percentage of global warming is caused by animal agriculture?

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN), the animal agriculture sector is responsible for approximately 18%, or nearly one-fifth, of human-induced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

How unsustainable is animal agriculture?

The amount of destruction that animal agriculture does to the planet, to environments and to species is devastating as animal agriculture is the root problem for the worlds increasing temperatures, species extinction, deforestation, and water quality.

How much of global warming is due to animal agriculture?

14.5-16.5%Scientific consensus shows that animal agriculture is responsible for 14.5-16.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions and causes significant environmental degradation, from biodiversity loss to deforestation.

How much water does fracking use?

Environmental websites won’t hesitate to tell you that fracking uses up to 100 billion gallons of water each year, but you will never find on their site what toll animal agriculture has on water supply–34 trillion gallons, though the methane gas production is equal. Meat and dairy products are very water intensive–it takes about 660 gallons of water to make a Quarter Pounder. While cutting down your shower time and turning off the faucet when brushing your teeth are always good ideas, domestic water use only accounts for 5% of water usage, while animal agriculture is responsible for 55%.

How much waste does a cow produce?

Cattle produce 130x the amount of waste than that the entire human population–with no waste treatment. 116,000 pounds of excrement are produced every second, which runs off into the oceans, causing hundreds of “dead zones” that are completely devoid of any life. What doesn’t run off into streams is left for them to walk in for the rest of their short lives.

How does animal agriculture affect the world?

Animal agriculture, or the raising of livestock for food, is responsible for 30% of the entire world’s water consumption , uses 45% of the Earth’s land, is the cause of 91% of the destruction of the Amazon rain forest and is the leading cause of ocean dead zones. It is causing habitat destruction and species extinction for up to 100 species per day in the Amazon. One acre of forest is cleared every second to make space for cattle grazing, and it is predicted that in 10 years the Amazon may be completely destroyed and devoid of all previous life.

Is the male gaze a reality?

However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Is overfishing a problem?

This isn’t just happening on land, either; overfishing is also a major problem , and ecosystems are dying everyday. For every pound of fish caught, five pounds of other species are caught by accident, called “by-kill,” such as sharks, sea turtles, whales and dolphins. It is predicted that if humans keep fishing the way that they do, our oceans could be fish-less by the year 2048. There is no such thing as sustainable fishing.

What are the threats to climate stability?

Because carbon emissions make up the vast majority (81 percent, as of 2018) of total greenhouse gases, they pose one of the gravest threats to climate stability. Although carbon is the greatest emitted by volume, other greenhouse gases can be much more potent.

How much carbon dioxide is produced by livestock?

Farmed animals – referred to as livestock – generate over 14 percent of all anthropogenic emissions, with estimated totals hovering around seven gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emitted every year. The bulk of these emissions are due to raising cattle for meat and dairy, contributing 60 percent of total livestock emissions. These emissions are thanks to the vast amounts of resources cows consume, the land they require for pasture (in the case of beef cattle), and other manure they produce. Cow manure contains nitrous oxide and methane, the latter being one of the most potent greenhouse gasses due to its outsized ability to absorb heat.

Why is agriculture the gravest mistake in the world?

Unless greenhouse gas emissions are seriously curbed, the world is going to be a far more difficult place to endure.

What are the environmental effects of monocrops?

Vast fields of monocrops also cause a host of environmental effects, including air pollution. Pesticides and herbicides are sprayed in liberal amounts, which can cause a host of debilitating illnesses, including cancers, for farmworkers and surrounding communities. Soil depletion is also a serious looming issue.

How much should global emissions be reduced?

In order to curb global warming, and keep the global temperature increase below 1.5 degrees Celsius, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that global emissions will need to be reduced by around 40 to 50 percent.

What will happen if agriculture continues to grow?

If industrial agriculture continues to grow unchecked, global warming will increase – with potentially disastrous impacts, the beginnings of which are being felt today. Methane, produced by livestock including sheep, goats, and cows, is a greenhouse gas with a terrific ability to trap heat in the atmosphere.

What percent of the world’s land is used for agriculture?

Land Use. A full 50 percent of the world’s livable land – meaning land that is ice-free and fertile – is being used for agriculture. No other human activity takes up more space. In contrast, all urban areas account for around one percent of livable land use.

What percentage of land is used for agriculture?

Half of all habitable land is used for agriculture. 2. This leaves only 37% for forests; 11% as shrubs and grasslands; 1% as freshwater coverage; and the remaining 1% – a much smaller share than many suspect – is built-up urban area which includes cities, towns, villages, roads and other human infrastructure.

How much of the world’s land is livestock?

If we combine pastures used for grazing with land used to grow crops for animal feed, livestock accounts for 77% of global farming land. While livestock takes up most of the world’s agricultural land it only produces 18% …

How much of the world’s ice free land is used for farming?

If we rewind 1000 years, it is estimated that only 4 million square kilometers – less than 4% of the world’s ice-free and non-barren land area was used for farming. In the visualization we see the breakdown …

What Is Animal Agriculture?

Animal agriculture is the commercial rearing of animals for their flesh, milk, eggs, wool, or skins. Global demand for these products has soared in recent decades, leading to the rapid expansion and intensification of the animal agriculture industry.

What Are the Different Types of Animal Agriculture?

There are many different types of animal agriculture, but the factory farming of chickens, pigs, and cows are three of the most prominent.

Why Is Animal Agriculture Bad?

Animal agriculture is a leading cause of animal suffering and the intensification of the industry in recent years has caused myriad issues. Among these are the extreme confinement of farmed animals, antibiotic misuse, and animal abuse.

How Does Animal Agriculture Affect Global Warming?

Although often overlooked in conversations about climate change, animal agriculture is a major driver of global warming and biodiversity loss. As we will see below, the industry destroys ecosystems, releases huge quantities of greenhouse gases, wastes vast amounts of water, and is a major source of pollutants.

How Much Land Is Used for Animal Agriculture?

Unsurprisingly, raising more than 70 billion land animals to kill each year for food requires vast areas of farmland. Although most of these animals are denied the opportunity to graze and are given so little space that they can barely turn around, arable land is needed to grow crops for them to eat.

Is Animal Agriculture Bad for Human Health?

Animal agriculture poses a number of serious threats to human health. Antibiotic resistance, which, as we have seen, is accelerated by the livestock industry’s abusive use of medication, already kills 35,000 people in the U.S. each year.


The environmental destruction caused by animal agriculture far outweighs any benefits, especially for those who live in developed nations with access to a wide variety of foods. With so many plant-based options available, there is no need to farm animals on such a massive scale.

How many dairy cows are raised in the US?

In the US, farmers are raising around 9 million dairy cows, which means 1.08 billion pounds of waste daily. To put it into perspective, a farm with only 2,500 cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of around 400,000 people.

What animals are raised in the US?

Typical livestock includes pigs, beef cows, dairy cows, poultry (like chickens and turkeys), goats, and sheep. The following information identifies the environmental impact and waste production of the US-based factory farming of each …

How much waste does a pig produce?

Each pig produces, on average, 14 pounds of waste per day. Thus 938 million pounds of solid waste produced daily by pigs. While toxic fumes are a big problem for all livestock, ammonia is of particular concern on pig farms. Ammonia increases smog levels and causes respiratory illnesses like asthma and lung inflammation.

What happens if you get too much nitrogen in your water?

Illegal discharge and unpreventable runoff contaminate public waterways, infecting humans as well as marine life. High levels of nitrogen in manure, when found in drinking water, can lead to birth defects. Both livestock and farm workers have died or been made sick due to high gas buildup from poor ventilation.

How many cows are there in the US?

Cattle. Cattle raised for meat produce less than lactating cows. However, there are 90 million of them in the US. This large number of animals combined with the 63 pounds of waste each one produces on a daily basis ends up at 5.67 billion pounds every day.

What are the animals that make up the US livestock?

Sheep and Goat. Not commonly considered as having a big role in US livestock production, the sheep and goat population is as big as the population of dairy cows. These animals also produce massive amounts of waste. Each sheep and goat create 5 pounds of waste daily. When multiplied by the 9 million animals in the country, …

What are the effects of animals on small areas of land?

In addition, the massive amount of animals produced on small areas of land is unsustainable and leads to reduced soil fertility and desertification, a loss of plants and the inability to regrow lost flora.

How much CO2 can you save by replacing a regular car with a Prius?

That’s 50% more CO2 saved!

How much fossil fuel is used in animal production?

Fossil Fuels More than a third of all raw materials and fossil fuels consumed in the United States are used in animal production (“Ecological Cooking” by Joanne Stepaniak and Kathy Hecker) The production of one calorie of animal protein requires more than ten times the fossil fuel input as a calorie of plant protein.

How much water does it take to produce 1 pound of meat?

Nearly half of all the water used in the United States goes to raising animals for food (“The Food Revolution” by John Robbins). It takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat and only 25 gallons to produce one pound of wheat (“Water Inputs in California Food Production” by Marcia Kreith) …

Is animal based food a humanitarian problem?

This is not just a problem that impacts our planet, it’s a humanitarian crisis. Our demand for animal based products is diverting precious resources like land, water and fossil fuels to produce farmed animals instead of feeding the estimated billion + people that are malnourished in the world.

What are the causes of air pollution?

1. Animal Waste Causes Harmful Air Pollution. Animal farms may produce food, but they also produce massive amounts of animal waste like urine and manure that emit around 400 different harmful gases into the atmosphere. Some of these gases include nitrous oxide, ammonia, particulate matter, endotoxins, and hydrogen sulfide.

What happens when a factory farm decomposes?

Additionally, when factory farm waste decomposes, it releases airborne particulate matter along with harmful gases. These particulatescan include dry manure, feathers, bits of feed, and animal dander. They can travel through the air for miles and turn the sky hazy near the factory farm.

How many cows are raised on factory farms?

Nearly all farm animals — 99 percent— are raised on one of the 20,000 factory farmslocated in the United States. That includes an estimated 29 million cows that go through the factory farm system every single year. These “factory farms” or “CAFO”s (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) are minimally regulated due to ag-gag laws, …

What gases are produced in factory farms?

Some of these gases include nitrous oxide, ammonia, particulate matter, endotoxins, and hydrogen sulfide. Because thousands of animals are kept together in factory farms, the concentration of the gases produced can be extremely dangerous to the local community.

How many gases do animal farms emit?

Animal farms may produce food, but they also produce massive amounts of animal waste that emit around 400 different harmful gases into the atmosphere. Animal farms may produce food, but they also produce massive amounts of animal waste that emit around 400 different harmful gases into the atmosphere. Toggle navigation.

Why are antibiotics used in livestock?

The antibiotics that livestock are given to protect them while living in a high-stress , filthy environment are also potent airborne matter. In one experiment, researchers from Texas Tech placed air samplers 10 to 30 yardsboth upwind and downwind from beef and dairy feedlots throughout the fall and winter months.

Where does methane come from?

Most of the methane comes from cows on factory farms that are fed low-quality grains that their bodies were not made to digest, resulting in high levels of indigestion and flatulence. All of this gas then enters our atmosphere.

How much manure does livestock produce?

At the time of writing, in the USA, livestock and poultry produce 120 million metric tons of manure in dry weight. Some researchers put the impact of animal agriculture at 27% of total human water usage globally for the production of livestock (including water used to grow the feed grains).

How are viruses transmitted?

Viruses can be transmitted between animal facilities and to humans via aerosol particles ( Zhang et al., 2013 ). Viruses can be detected 2 km downwind of the exhaust from pig facilities ( Corzo et al., 2013 ). The ability of airborne viruses to infect depends on the size of the aerosol particles ( Alonso et al., 2015 ). Manure can also be a source of airborne viruses. There are airborne pathogens aerosolized with center pivot irrigation using diluted wastewater from dairies ( Dungan, 2014 ).

What are the three macronutrients that are essential for plants?

Phosphate, nitrogen, and potassium are essential plant macronutrients. The application of animal waste or manure to land either by spreading or the animals being on pasture results in the addition of phosphate, nitrogen, and potassium to the soil and to agricultural runoff into watersheds after rainfall, particularly very heavy rains;

How do animals affect the environment?

The production of livestock and poultry has marked impacts on the environment influencing water, air, and soil. Manure or animal waste is the predominant source of concern particularly with intensive animal agriculture. At the time of writing, in the USA, livestock and poultry produce 120 million metric tons of manure in dry weight. Some researchers put the impact of animal agriculture at 27% of total human water usage globally for the production of livestock (including water used to grow the feed grains). When there are problems in management, livestock and poultry can reduce water quality. There is contamination of water from livestock and poultry facilities including phosphate and nitrate, pathogens (viruses, bacteria, and protozoa), antibiotics, and androgenic agents. Nitrates and phosphate contamination of waterways and estuaries is leading to algal blooms, eutrophication, and hypoxic areas. Antibiotics are used extensively in pig and poultry production while anabolic agents are used for cattle. Agriculture contributes 11% to global greenhouse gas emissions with ruminants adding methane. Among the gases from livestock and poultry that are potential problems are the following: carbon dioxide, ammonia, total reduced sulfur including hydrogen sulfide, and water vapor together with odors. The latter can be offensive to neighbors of farms and have the potential to impact human health. Moreover, viruses can be transmitted from animal facilities to humans via aerosol particles. Livestock contribute markedly to soil degradation with effects including erosion, salinization (due to freshwater removal), soil loss following erosion after deforestation or overgrazing, “compaction and crusting (of soils) can be caused by cattle trampling,” and waterlogging with water-impaired movement. Soil degradation related to livestock directly and indirectly is made up of overgrazing of rangeland (679 million ha globally) and deforestation (579 million ha globally).

What is the main nutrient in the Mississippi River?

The addition of plant nutrients, particularly nitrate from rivers, can lead rapidly to a bloom of phytoplankton ( Beman et al., 2005 ). Nitrate is the principal plant nutrient in the drainage of the Mississippi River basin that is responsible for hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico ( Burkart and James, 1998 ).

What are hypoxic zones?

Hypoxic Zones in Coastal Regions of Oceans. Phytoplankton growth depends on the availability of plant nutrients with the concentrations of nitrate, phosphate, and iron being rate limiting. Tropical and subtropical marine waters are frequently depleted of nitrogen due to microbial denitrification.

What are the nutrients that help algae grow?

Just as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphate are essential nutrients for plants on land, they are also nutrients for algae. The rate of algal growth is dependent on the availability of plant nutrients. In freshwater, phosphate is likely to be the limiting nutrient for algal growth.


How Does Animal Agriculture Affect The Environment

Impact of Animal Agriculture on Climate Change

  • Out of all the human activities that cause climate change, agriculture is one of the biggest contributors. Estimatesas of 2020 put the sector’s global contributions at 37 percent. Below are a few key factors accounting for climate change emissions resulting from human-cased agriculture.

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How Do Greenhouse Gases Affect The Climate?

  • In greenhouses designed to grow plants, the transparent glass structure allows sunlight into the greenhouse while preventing heat from escaping. The earth’s atmosphere functions in a similar way, with gas molecules acting like the glass. Certain gases are more effective at absorbing heat than others; these include methane, nitrous oxide, and perhaps the most infamous, carbon dioxi…

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Can Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Animal Agriculture Be Reduced?

  • By far, the most effective way to reduce the animal agriculture sector’s greenhouse gas footprint is to significantly reduce, and eventually eliminate animal agriculture. While this might sound “extreme”, it is the state of industrial animal agriculture – characterized by inhumane CAFOs, waste lagoons teeming with pathogens and antibiotics, and requiring enormous land and feed in…

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Animal Agriculture and Global Warming

  • Flying in planes or driving SUVs have long been understood as having negative impacts on the global climate. While these are certainly deserving of critique and change, the agriculture sector deserves time in the spotlight. If industrial agriculture continues to grow unchecked, global warming will increase – with potentially disastrous impacts, the beginnings of which are being f…

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  • Due to its profound impacts on the climate and environment around the world, agriculture may well be humanity’s gravest mistake – because it may be our undoing. Unless greenhouse gas emissions are seriously curbed, the world is going to be a far more difficult place to endure. Reducing demand for animal agriculture and adopting a plant-based diet is among the most imp…

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