Across the world media outlets are covering the withdrawal of the US from the Paris Agreement on climate change. US President Trump announced that he will be making a decision shortly and sources from within the White House have confirmed that he plans to withdraw from the agreement.
If you are a concerned animal or environmental activist, you might be wondering:
- How will climate change impact our environment?
- What does this have to do with animal welfare?
- How can I make a difference?
The US is the second highest contributor to rising levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Rising sea levels, changes in temperature and glacial melting are not mere predictions anymore, but a visible reality. These changes put “approximately 25 to 35 percent of plant and animal species at increased risk of extinction” according to the National Wildlife Federation. Scientists now predict that if we continue at this rate, coral reefs will suffer and we will witness extreme weather conditions, coastal flooding and more.
What does this have to do with animal welfare, meat and dairy industries or YOU?
Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions (I). That is more than the combined exhaust from all transportation.
For decades environmentalists have chosen to ride bicycles, take public transportation, install energy efficient light bulbs, turn off lights when they leave rooms, and more. They conserve energy in these various ways to reduce their carbon footprint. These are all individual habit adjustments that make a difference. However, the difficult habit adjustment of altering one’s diet is more commonly ignored, and ironically the one with the largest potential impact.
While there are more vegans and vegetarians today than ever before… the numbers don’t show a decline in meat and dairy production. See the statistics below for reference.
A few digestible facts about the impact of animal agriculture on the environment from the Cowspiracy Facts Page (direct research sources provided on their site):
- Emissions for agriculture projected to increase 80% by 2050.
- Energy related emissions expected to increase 20% by 2040.
- Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) water use ranges from 70-140 billion gallons annually.
- Animal agriculture water consumption ranges from 34-76 trillion gallons annually.
- Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of water in the US.
- Livestock covers 45% of the earth’s total land.
Yes, the US pulling out of the Paris Agreement could be detrimental to global progress on reducing climate change before it becomes irreversible. However, we can all make a big difference by acknowledging the role our dietary choices play in it’s existence. We all have the option to choose a more environmental, humane and compassionate lifestyle.
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