How much pollution does animal agriculture cause


Animal agriculture is linked to: 55 percent of erosion; 60 percent of nitrogen pollution; and. 70 percent of the global dietary phosphorus footprint.May 10, 2016

What are the problems of animal agriculture?

 · According to research published in Nature Food, 35% of all global greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to food production, “of which 57% corresponds to the production of …

How does pollution affect farming?

 · In 2012 livestock and poultry grown in the largest CAFOs in the United States produced 369 million tons of manure, or almost 13 times the waste of the entire U.S. …

How does agriculture cause pollution?

 · Farmed animals – referred to as livestock – generate over 14 percent of all anthropogenic emissions, with estimated totals hovering around seven gigatonnes of carbon …

How does livestock cause pollution?

Effects on human health. There are severe effects of agricultural pollution on human health. Through an excessive use of fertilizer and pesticides, harmful chemicals can reach our …


How does animal agriculture affect pollution?

Animal agriculture is the worst emitter, researchers say, responsible for 80 percent of deaths from pollution related to food production. Gases associated with manure and animal feed produce small, lung-irritating particles capable of drifting hundreds of miles.

How much emissions are caused by animal agriculture?

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 pollution is caused by animals?

Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.

How Animal agriculture affects global warming?

Raising livestock generates 14.5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions that are very bad for the environment. Forests help lower the risks of sudden climate change and also tone down the impacts from natural disasters.

Is animal agriculture the leading cause of global warming?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shows that animal agriculture is the single largest source of methane emissions in the U.S. Burning fossil fuels (such as oil and gasoline) releases carbon dioxide, the primary gas responsible for the climate crisis.

What is animal agriculture doing to the environment?

Livestock emit almost 64% of total ammonia emissions, contributing significantly to acid rain and to acidification of ecosystems. Livestock are also a highly significant source of methane emissions, contributing 35–40% of methane emissions worldwide.

How animal agriculture is killing the planet?

So, in addition to destroying Earth’s water and air, raising animals for meat on a massive scale uses countless acres of land, destroying vital ecosystems, harming wildlife and biodiversity.

How do farmers affect air quality?

The way farmers raise animals and tend land can affect air quality. Using deep covered pits instead of anaerobic lagoons to store a manure slurry could prevent much of it from blowing away. Tweaking feed formulas, using the minimal amount of fertilizer required on a field, and employing more rotational crops could all contribute to improving air quality.

How much ammonia does a broiler release?

A 2019 report issued by the Natural Resources Defense Council puts the amounts into perspective, explaining that “an average broiler facility raising 90,000 birds at a time may release more than 15 tons of ammonia a year, causing respiratory problems and chronic lung disease as well as chemical burns to the respiratory tract, skin, and eyes of nearby residents.” 4

Is agriculture a degrader of air quality?

But it’s also an aggressive degrader of air quality, as explained in an article from The Breakthrough Institute . The Institute states that agriculture is responsible for roughly half of U.S. air pollution (human-caused fine particulate matter) and that the primary source within the agricultural sector is ammonia generated by livestock …

Is ammonia a problem?

It’s not just ammonia that’s a problem; other harmful gases like hydrogen sulfide have been linked to neurological problems, including mood instability, depression, and illness, as well as increased levels of asthma in children living in the vicinity. 5

How does agriculture contribute to air pollution?

Agricultural air pollution comes from both farm equipment and farming itself—the soil, plants, animals, fertilizers, and so on. A 2016 study found that agriculture is the largest global source of fine particulates, which result from ammonia emitted to the air combining with other chemicals, sunlight, and volatile organic compounds from trees, plants and vehicle and industrial emissions. In the United States, farms are responsible for more than 90 percent of airborne ammonia pollution, mostly from fertilizers and livestock manure.

What is the biggest source of pollution in the US?

Agriculture in the United States accounts for only 9 percent of the nation’s global warming emissions, less than half of that of cars and trucks. In some cases, however, the US agricultural sector is responsible for even more air and water pollution than vehicles. For example, agriculture is the biggest source of fine-particle air pollution in much of the country and the biggest polluter of rivers and streams.

Why do we need a farm bill?

It can be challenging for farmers to adopt agroecology practices, but but that’s why we need a farm bill that creates incentives and supports the transition. Ultimately, the more—and the faster—the agricultural sector can incorporate and improve upon these innovations, the better off all of us will be.

How can agriculture help the environment?

And they can rotate their crops and increase crop and animal diversity in ways that boost soil fertility and break up pest cycles. Such practices also can help farmers reduce their reliance on chemicals, which would protect the environment—and farm profit margins. And healthier soil tends to store more carbon, emit less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and absorb more water to bolster resilience to floods and droughts.

What are the causes of algal blooms?

Vehicles and farms are also responsible for water pollution that causes algal blooms and aquatic dead zones, contaminates drinking water, and damages aquatic habitat.

How does animal agriculture affect the 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. Furthermore, a third of worldwide grain production is used to feed livestock. By 2050, consumption of meat and dairy products is expected to rise 76 and 64 percent respectively, which will increase the resource burden from the industry. Cattle are by far the biggest source of emissions from animal agriculture, with one recent study showing that in an average American diet, beef consumption creates 1,984 pounds of CO2e annually. Replacing beef with plants would reduce that figure 96 percent, bringing it down to just 73 pounds of CO2e.

What percentage of carbon dioxide is produced by animal agriculture?

Animal agriculture specifically: Accounts for five percent of global anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions; Represents 44 percent of anthropogenic methane emissions, the primary driver of climate change related to livestock, as methane is 34 times more potent than carbon dioxide over 100 years; Comprises 44 percent of all anthropogenic nitrous …

How much carbon dioxide is wasted in the world?

Moreover, approximately one gigaton of carbon dioxide equivalent worth of animal-based foods is wasted globally every year. If global consumption of meat and dairy continues to grow at the current pace, the agriculture sector could consume about 70 percent of the allowable budget for all GHG emissions by mid-century.

How much of the world’s sewage is produced by livestock?

Further amplifying water and air pollution, global livestock produce seven to nine times more sewage than humans, most of which is left untreated. They also discharge pesticides, antibiotics, and heavy metals into water systems. 70 percent of the global dietary phosphorus footprint.

What is the biggest contributor to global water pollution?

Furthermore, air and water pollution can be directly attributed to the livestock sector, which is the largest contributor to global water pollution. The livestock sector is also one of the leading drivers of global deforestation, and is linked to 75 percent of historic deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest.

What percentage of the global dietary phosphorus footprint is dietary?

70 percent of the global dietary phosphorus footprint. Concentrated animal farming operations present additional public health risks to nearby communities, as viral diseases may spread from sick livestock to humans and the increased use of antibiotics encourages antibiotic resistance.

What are the sources of agricultural pollution?

Agricultural pollution has many different sources. Nitrogen-based fertilizers produce potent greenhouse gases and can overload waterways with dangerous pollutants; chemical pesticides with varying toxicological effects can contaminate our air and water or reside directly on our food.

How has agriculture increased?

In the thousands of years since, agriculture has undergone tremendous horizontal growth, meaning that humans have set aside more and more land to grow food. In fact, the amount of land used for agriculture increased nearly sixfold in just a few centuries, between 1700 and 1980. In recent decades, we’ve also radically industrialized our methods and developed more resilient (and productive) crop species. It’s this growth in productivity—also called vertical expansion—that’s been credited with skyrocketing yields and reducing the cost of food. But many of the tools enabling this high-input, high-volume commodity agriculture have also contributed massive amounts of agricultural pollution.

Why are antibiotics used in farm animals?

The regular use of these drugs in the food and water of farm animals to (poorly) help them survive the often crowded, unsanitary, and stressful conditions on CAFOs contributes to the rise and proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

How do antibiotics affect animals?

The widespread use of antibiotics in meat production in animals that are not sick is contributing to the public health crisis of antibiotic resistance. Two-thirds of antibiotics important to human medicine in the U.S. are sold for use in livestock, not people. The regular use of these drugs in the food and water of farm animals to (poorly) help them survive the often crowded, unsanitary, and stressful conditions on CAFOs contributes to the rise and proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. These bacteria can then spread from CAFOs via air and water, including water used to irrigate crops, and can end up in animal waste used to fertilize crops. Contaminated meat and farmworkers’ clothing and shoes can also spread these antibiotic-resistant bacteria into our communities. Resistant bacteria can even “teach” other bacteria resistance, and this process can take place anywhere bacteria are found, including in our homes and guts. The exposure of workers and farm-adjacent communities is particularly high.

How does manure affect humans?

Livestock and their manure pollute our air, too: Manure management alone accounts for 14 percent of all agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. Manure emits ammonia, which combines with other air pollutants, like nitrogen oxides and sulfates, to create tiny (and deadly) solid particles. We humans then inhale these particles, which can cause heart and lung disease and are said to account fort least 3.3 million deaths each year globally. Additionally, hog waste in particular has been called out by people living near CAFOs for its foul smell.

Where does manure grow?

To make matters worse, before it is applied it to land, the manure usually sits on-site in vast manure lagoons that can grow to the size of a football field . The lagoons contain a toxic stew of antibiotics residue, chemicals, and bacteria decomposing the waste, a medley that can take on a sickly hue.

What animals produce manure?

Cows, pigs, chickens, and turkeys do what all other animals do: poop. In 2012 livestock and poultry grown in the largest CAFOs in the United States produced 369 million tons of manure, or almost 13 times the waste of the entire U.S. population, according to an analysis of USDA figures done by Food & Water Watch.

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.

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.

What are some alternatives to animal products?

Fortunately, plant-based options abound to replace animals in a wide range of products, from cheese to milk to burgers and sausages. Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are two of the leading companies in the plant-based meat sector, helping the idea of plant-based meats go mainstream and helping people understand that it’s possible to achieve the BBQ-worthy tastes without the climate side-effects. Plant-based meats use up to 99 percent less land and emit up to 90 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

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.

Do electric cars generate carbon?

Even electric cars, which run on batteries and do not themselves generate carbon emissions, draw electricity from grids still run on fossil fuels (although the goal of using 100% renewable energy for electric grids is more achievable than ever).

How much of the world’s calories are consumed from land use?

Surprisingly, this huge expenditure of resources and land use provides only 18 percent of the world’s calories. Land used for any type of agriculture – be it livestock or crops meant for people or animals – is brought under cultivation by clearing forests and grasslands, which are carbon sinks due to their abilities to absorb carbon.

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.

What is agricultural pollution?

Agricultural pollution can be defined as the degradation or contamination of the environment through abiotic and biotic byproducts of farming. For many years, our ancestors did farming in a sustainable way, thus there were almost no problems with agricultural pollution.

How does agricultural pollution affect plants?

Agricultural pollution can become a problem for parts of the local plants since invasive species could impact the population of native species in an adverse way which in turn can change the dynamics of the whole ecosystem.

Why should farmers build fences around water bodies?

Farmers can build fences around water bodies in order to prevent access for animals and thus excessive amounts of nutrients enter the water. Although this is just a small measure in order to reduce agricultural pollution, it still is a small step in order to reach our goal of less pollution.

Why is animal waste important?

Animal waste is a big cause of agricultural pollution. Thus, it is crucial to set up and improve processes concerning the management of these pollutants. There are several manure treatment processes that aim to reduce the adverse impact of manure on the environmental system.

Why should farmers consider the reduction in the tillage of their fields?

Farmers should consider the reduction in the tillage of their fields in order to reduce runoffs, soil compaction and erosion. Thus, a more sustainable path towards farming and a reduction in agricultural pollution could be accomplished.

Why should farmers try to improve nutrition management?

Farmers should try to improve nutrition management so that fertilizer and pesticides are not used in excessive amounts in order to mitigate the agricultural pollution problem. This means to determine in a scientific way how much pesticides and fertilizer are necessary to get a reasonable crop yield.

How does fertilizer affect aquatic life?

Effects on aquatic life. There is also an adverse effect on the aquatic system from agricultural pollution. Since the excessive use of fertilizer can contaminate rivers with an excessive supply of nitrates and phosphates, the production of algae can be enhanced.

How many people die from animal agriculture each year?

New research links fine particulate emissions (also known as PM 2.5) from animal agriculture to the deaths of approximately 12,700 people every year.

How many deaths were caused by air pollution in 2017?

Furthermore, Our World in Data reports that outdoor and indoor air pollution (of all kinds) combined were responsible for 4.9 million deaths around the world in 2017, making pollution the fourth-highest risk factor after high blood pressure, smoking, and high blood sugar.

Is asthma a problem in the factory farming industry?

It’s no coincidence that asthma rates are also at their highest in this area, with poor and minority communities bearing the brunt of its harmful effects. The factory farming industry disproportionately impacts Black, brown, and low-income communities, regardless of locale.

What happened to the hog lagoon in North Carolina?

A North Carolina hog lagoon overflows after Hurricane Floyd in 1999. These lagoons poison the air, and during heavy flooding can also poison local waterways. | JOHN ALTHOUSE/AFP via Getty

How much manure does a factory farm produce?

They can contain hundreds, thousands, and sometimes millions of live creatures at any one time, and create more than 300 million tons of manure every year. That’s more than three times the amount of annual waste produced by all humans on the planet.

Is air pollution a health issue?

One previous report, published last year in ATS Journals, even links air pollution to health issues in unborn babies. Another study, published in 2015, suggests that agricultural emissions are the largest contributor to PM-related deaths in Japan, Korea, Russia, Turkey, the Eastern US, and throughout the EU.

Does farming cause air pollution?

While the scientific community has noted for years that farming creates harmful air pollution, this new study attempts to fully account for all food pollution-related deaths documented each year. The work builds upon a significant body of existing supporting research.

How much of the world’s food emissions come from meat?

The paper’s calculations of the climate impact of meat is higher than previous estimates – the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization has said about 14% of all emissions come from meat and diary production. The climate crisis is also itself a cause of hunger, with a recent study finding that a third of global food production will be at risk by the end of the century if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at their current rate.

Which region has the most animal based food emissions?

They found that South America is the region with the largest share of animal-based food emissions, followed by south and south-east Asia and then China. Food-related emissions have grown rapidly in China and India as increasing wealth and cultural changes have led more younger people in these countries to adopt meat-based diets.

What is the main source of food emissions?

The use of cows, pigs and other animals for food, as well as livestock feed, is responsible for 57% of all food production emissions, the research found, with 29% coming from the cultivation of plant-based foods. The rest comes from other uses of land, such as for cotton or rubber. Beef alone accounts for a quarter of emissions produced by raising and growing food.

How many cattle can a feedlot hold in Colorado?

A single kilo of beef creates 70kg of emissions. This feedlot in Colorado can hold 98,000 cattle. Photograph: Jim West/Alamy Stock Photo

Is culling animals bad for the environment?

The raising and culling of animals for food is far worse for the climate than growing and processing fruits and vegetables for people to eat, the research found, confirming previous findings on the outsized impact that meat production, particularly beef, has on the environment.


Resources and Production

Vehicles and farms are both responsible for similar types of air pollution. They both emit pollutants that harm health and cause climate change, including particulate matter (soot), nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and methane. Transportation-related air pollution comes from not only driving, but also manufa…

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Consequences and Impacts

Mitigation and Action

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