The production of livestock is among one of the most ecological detriments for all human needs (Abbasi et al., 2015). Firstly, it is inevitable to say that the human population is increasing, and towns are extending to mega-cities (Abbasi et al., 2015). while the request to produce more food will continue to grow, and agricultural land will continue to decrease (Abbasi et al., 2015). Within the mid-20th century, the era of industrialization fostered the explosion of natural resources to produce goods and services, and it has since been the subject of the environment (Bourgeois, 2012). In the 21st century, human beings have different effects on nature and the environment; therefore, this issue has increasingly become a central topic of interest in the world (Bourgeois, 2012). Similarly, it is essential to relieve these effects, analyze and improve the industrialization of livestock, including both extensive pasture and intensive according to farming, as well as the produce of factory-farms, the latter having a far superior effect on the environment (Bourgeois, 2012). Furthermore, there is much more comprehensive harm to the environment in terms of soil erosion, depletion of water resources, pollution, global warming and the lack of biodiversity than the product of equivalent quantities of other forms of food (Pimentel et al. 1975., Steinfeld et al., 2006 as cited in Abbasi et al.,2015). However, this widely held belief that animal farming is one of the main factors to the environmental issues in the world is not believed by all. There are also conversations around animal farming, creating a positive effect on the environment. This essay will aim to discuss animal farming, with regard to its environmentally destructive nature, focusing on global warming, water, and air pollution around the world.
To begin with, many people have argued that animal farming is one of the significant reasons for environmental problems. A total of 18 percent of greenhouse gas emission is constituted by the livestock industry (FAO, 2006, as cited in Bourgeois, 2012). It is said that three main compounds that contribute to this issue are carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Carbon dioxide (CO2) has the most considerable impact on global warming due to the extensive quantities emitted primarily through burning fossil fuels (Koneswaran & Nierenburg, 2008 as cited in Bourgeois, 2012). Every year, 9 percent of the total CO2 emissions are constituted by factory farms (Koneswaran & Nierenburg, 2008 as cited in Bourgeois, 2012).
This polluted gas contributes to 41 million tonnes of CO2 to feed crops. An additional 90 million tonnes for farm operations, 2.4 billion tonnes in the excavation of trees, and 28 million tonnes as a result of soil cultivation (Abbasi et al., 2015). It is also worth mentioning that livestock is a primary source of land-based pollution because it releases a significant number of nutrients and organic matter, pathogens and drug residues into soil, and rivers, lakes and coastal zones (Aarnink et al., 1995; Losey and Vaughan, 2006; Fiala, 2008 as cited in Abbasi et al. ,2015). Livestock activities produce nitrous oxide, which is the most potent of the three primary greenhouse gases (GHGs) .This makes up 65% of global N2O anthropogenic emissions.
Furthermore, they constitute 75–80 percent of all agricultural emissions. Current trends suggest that this level will significantly increase over the next decades (Tauseef et al., 2013 cited in Abbasi et al., 2015) methane and nitrous oxide are the most significant greenhouse gases which occur as a result of animal agriculture (Grossi et al., 2019). Methane is generated by enteric fermentation and manure storage which is a gas that has an impact on global warming 28 times more than carbon dioxide (Grossi et al., 2019)
Furthermore, Pollution is another significant issue surrounding the inescapable practice of factory farming. It is argued that over 133 million tonnes of manure are produced each year in the United States (Burkholder et al., 2007, as cited in Bourgeois,2012). A part of the manure is treated and utilized as fertilizer in agricultural usages, while the majority of it is stored in enormous lagoons. Also, various dangerous gases are discharged, which is constituted synthetic compounds, for example, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide (Heederik et al., 2007 as cited in Bourgeois,2012).
Moreover, 64 percent of anthropogenic ammonia is constituted by the livestock industry, which leads to acidification of ecosystems and the production of acid rain (Heederik et al., 2007 as cited in Bourgeois,2012). Studies have admitted that enhancing the occurrence of respiratory symptoms such as headaches, diarrhea, burning eyes, and sore throats occurring among neighboring communities. Research has also shown that decreasing the quality of life between inhabitants who are residing close to operations (Heederik et al., 2007 as cited in Bourgeois,2012).
Additionally, many constituents of the livestock industry have an extensive influence on the quality of water and accessibility. It has been argued that approximately 70 percent of available freshwater is used by industrial agriculture, which more than 8% is devoted to crop feeding and irrigating (Henning, 2011 as cited in Bourgeois,2012). Further to this, the significant and detrimental results of factory farming result in water pollution (Henning, 2011 as cited in Bourgeois,2012). Livestock generates a considerable amount of manure, and run-off occurs in the fields where manure is used as fertilizer, or waste lagoons ruptures (Burkholder et al., 2007 as cited in Bourgeois, 2012). Additionally, there are outbreaks due to the significant rainfall or ruptures (Burkholder et al., 2007, as cited in Bourgeois, 2012). Manure is rich in the composite of nitrogen, phosphorus, and ammonia (Henning, 2011 as cited in Bourgeois,2012). When extreme amounts of these compounds are released into the environment, they can lead to harmful algal blooms, causing eutrophication in both fresh and coastal waters, which leads to the killing of fish and destroying coral reefs (Henning, 2011 as cited in Bourgeois,2012). Manure also constitutes of different virus and bacteria that can pollute water supplies which causes a variety of human health issues, for example, gastrointestinal distress and infections (Burkholder et al., 2007 as cited in Bourgeois,2012)
Although animal farming is one of the initial factors for environmental problems, some people argue that acid rain is the main factor for ecological problems (Barnosky et al., 2011 as cited in Bourgeois, 2012). The effect of acidification has been analyzed all over the world. This phenomenon has affected detrimentally on ecologies such as deduction of aquatic fish species’ reproduction, dieback and growing stunts in plants, the reservoir of toxic aluminum and heavy metals in soil and water bodies, and different biodiversity loses including corals and shellfish as well as the decline of the humanmade structures which is made up of marble, stone, and erosion of metal structures (Barnosky et al., 2011 as cited in Bourgeois, 2012). The livestock industry in regions of the surface, atmosphere, and hydrosphere of the earth, which are occupied by living organisms is currently tolerating a 6th mass extinction (Barnosky et al., 2011 as cited in Bourgeois, 2012). This loss is widespread due to increasing global temperatures, habitat extinction, pollution, and the action of making excessive use of a resource. (Primack, 2010 as cited in Bourgeois,2012).
In conclusion, the production of animal protein engaging in livestock is among the most global warming and eco-reducing of anthropogenic activities. Further, producing livestock is among the ecologically harmful effect for all human needs, and it is said that there are much broader effects on the environment, such as soil erosion, discharge of water resources, pollutions, and global warming. It is also worth mentioning that greenhouse gas emissions also contributed by the livestock industry. Furthermore, animal farming causes global warming due to more enormous quantities of the burning of fossil fuels. Moreover, another significant issue is caused by animal farming is pollution, and this issue is leading to different health problems such as headaches, sore throat, and burning eyes.Additionally, the livestock industry has a significant impact on the quality of water, and it causes to kill fish. Although some people said that acid rain has a detrimental effect on the environment, according to the 2012 progress report of USA EPA (2013), the impact of global environmental issues such as acid rain, acid deposition, and discharging of ozone layer environmental impacts are decreasing (Sivaramanan, 2015). Lastly, factory farming constitutes a substantial change in nitrogen, carbon, and methane cycle and rising ocean temperature, habitat loss, and pollutions, so all of them contribute to global warming.
- Abbasi,T, Abbasi,T & Abbasi, S.A.(2015). Reducing the global environmental impact of livestock: The mini livestock option: Cleaner production, pp1-37. Retrieved March 07, 2020, at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/274096837_Reducing_the_global_environmental_impact_of_livestock_production_The_minilivestock_option
- Bourgeois, L(2012). A Discounted Threat: Environmental Impacts of the Livestock Industry: Earth common, 2(1). Retrieved March 06, 2020, at https://journals.macewan.ca/index.php/earthcommon/article/download/56/83
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- Sivaramanan, S. (2015). Acid Rain, causes, effects, and control strategies. Retrieved March 07, 2020, at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/275344491_ACID_RAIN_CAUSES_EFFECTS_AND_CONTROL_STRATEGIES