Part 27,309 in our ongoing “What in hell is wrong with people?” series

Posted: July 16, 2016 in Livin' in the USA, Science
Tags: , , ,

The meat industry is an environmental, health, and humanitarian nightmare. The 2006 UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) report, “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” reported that “livestock production is one of the major causes of the world’s most pressing environmental problems, including global warming, land degradation, air and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity.” To cite just one example, the EPA estimates that animal agriculture produces 13% of all greenhouse gases, and the FAO reports:

When emissions from land use and land use change are included, the livestock sector accounts for 9 percent of CO2 deriving from human-related activities, but produces a much larger share of even more harmful greenhouse gases. It generates 65 percent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2. Most of this comes from manure.

And it accounts for respectively 37 percent of all human-induced methane (23 times as warming as CO2), which is largely produced by the digestive system of ruminants, and 64 percent of ammonia, which contributes significantly to acid rain.

Then consider the vast lagoons of fecal waste produced by industrial pig farming and the huge amount of fecal waste produced by feedlots. (When driving between San Francisco and L.A. during summer in the ’80s and ’90s, I used to dread one 10 or 15 miles stretch of I-5 near to a major feedlot; when the wind was “right,” the stench over the entire stretch was nauseating.) And all too much of this fecal waste ends up in our waterways.

To make matters even worse, industrial animal agriculture dumps massive amounts of antibiotics into animal feed, contributing greatly to the problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria; such resistant “super bugs” already kill 23,000 Americans every year, and the problem will only get worse as older antibiotics lose their effectiveness and nothing comes on line to replace them.

Then there’s the sheer humanitarian horror of industrial animal agriculture. The Human Society reports that 8.8 billion chickens were slaughtered in the U.S. last year, along with over 28 million cattle and over 115 million pigs. Almost all of these animals had short, miserable lives in horrendous environments.

Now the point of all this: The Pew Research Institute reports that only 20% of American would even consider eating factory-grown “cultured” meat produced from plant sources.

Replacement of slaughter-produced meat by “cultured” meat would eliminate the mass animal cruelty that’s an inherent part of the meat industry; it would eliminate the meat industry’s (literally) industrial-strength contribution to the antibiotic-resistance crisis; and it would greatly reduce agriculture’s contribution to the global warming crisis.

Yet 80% of Americans won’t even consider trying it.

What in hell is wrong with them?

(Note: this post was inspired by a recent, shorter post on our favorite technology blog, Slashdot.)

 

 

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