15 Apr Is Factory Farming Worth It?
Ever heard of factory farming? Factory farming is what puts eggs, pork, chicken, milk, dairy and beef on the table — especially in western countries. In factory farms, animals are crammed by thousands into dirty, stuffed and windowless wire cages and metal crates. Most of these poor animals will not even feel the warmth of the sun until the day they’re loaded onto trucks headed for slaughterhouses. The mighty corporations behind these factory farms don’t care about the animals’ welfare. What they care about is how to maximize profits while minimizing costs. It’s all about money.
Sad but true.
11 Facts About How Factory Farms Affect the Environment
It’s true that factory farms put food on the table. But at what costs? Do you know that factory farming also affects the environment and contributes to the ever increasing threat of climate change? Here are some facts.
- In the United States alone, about 10 billion land animals are raised for meat, eggs and dairy.
- Factory farming is responsible for 37% of methane emissions worldwide. And methane is 20 times more global warming-potent than carbon dioxide.
- Animal manure contain traces of heavy metals which can contaminate receiving waters. This metals can accumulate as they move up the food chain.
- Excessive use of animal manure in agriculture can raise the concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorous to critical levels. Nitrogen and phosphorous can contaminate bodies of water, robbing them of oxygen which has detrimental effects on aquatic life.
- Manufacturing of animal feed emit 41 million metric tons of carbon dioxide every year.
- Lots of forests are lost to deforestation every year. Deforestation for feed crops and animal grazing produces approximately 2.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year.
- Corn, wheat and rice — humanity’s staple crops and important ingredients in animal feed — are among the most nitrogen hungry plants.
- Animal factories often inject animals with antibiotics to encourage growth and to guard against diseases and infections. These antibiotics may leak into the environment and cause detrimental effects.
- Methane, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide are among the top air pollutants released by factory farms every day.
- According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, animal factories generate 450 million tons of manure each year — that’s three times more poop that all Americans combines.
- Farm factories don’t only pollute groundwater. They also deplete them. Remember that farm factories also use groundwater for cooling, drinking and cleaning.
Now, these facts and numbers are just for the U.S. Can you imagine what it’s like if you account for the entire world?
Factory Farming is One of Biggest Contributors to Climate Change
Climate change is now a threat — not only to the environment but also to humanity’s survival. This statement from Harvard’s Centre for Health and the Global Environment is more than enough to show us the severity of this problem:
“Climate change alone is expected to threaten with extinction approximately one quarter or more of all species on land by the year 2050, surpassing even habitat loss as the biggest threat to life on land.”
Global warming is now taking its toll in our planet’s polar regions. Melting icepacks have reduced the habitats of Arctic creatures like puffins, penguins and polar bears. Rise in sea level is also inevitable as the ice caps melt — destroying coastal areas and threatening the ecosystems thriving along the coast. Changing temperatures can also cause drastic seasonal changes, affecting the mating cycles of various migratory animals across the planet. So…
Is factory farming worth it?
What will you do?
Here’s a piece of parting advice: go for organic. Consuming organic livestock does not only support small farmers, it also encourages the use of eco-friendly farming methods which our planet badly needs right now.