Monday, May 05, 2008

Lots of Poop

I just finished Farm Sanctuary - website
You have to read this book - It is very interesting. I try to learn something every day and this
Animal agriculture plays the leading role in methane emissions, according to the United Nations report. It is responsible for 35-40% of all methane generated by human activity. Animal agriculture produces more than 100,000,000 tons of methane a year, and the figure is rising. As global demand for meat increases, so does the supply. From 1950-2002, world meat production went from 44,000,000 to 242,000,000 tons a year. Not only is the higher population driving the demand, people are consuming more meat individually. In the past 50 years alone, per capita consumption of meat has increased from 17 to 39 kilograms per person. As countries such as China and India adopt a more Western diet, demand for meat is rising rapidly, driving predictions that global meat consumption will double again by 2020.
To compare which animal foods are the worst offenders, Eschel and Martin estimated that 56% of all non-C[O.sub.2] greenhouse gas emissions come from beef, 29% from dairy, and 15% from pork. This includes enteric fermentation, manure management, and nitrous oxide manure management. Most of the methane that is produced in animal agriculture comes from the digestive process of livestock, and most of that does not originate from the rear end of the animal, as one might expect, but rather from the front end during the benign act of exhalation. The amount of methane emanating from one cow may seem negligible, but when you consider that a single cow can exhale 634 quarts of methane per day and then multiply that by the 1,300,000,000 cows that are in the world today, it is not hard to see why this matter should be taken seriously.
Cess-pits of animal waste
The initial production of methane that comes from digestion (85%) is followed by an additional emission (15%) from massive "lagoons," a euphemism for cess-pits of untreated farm animal waste. To get a sense of exactly how much waste we are talking about, consider that farm animals produce 500,000,000 tons of manure annually. That is three times more raw waste than is made by U.S. citizens, according to USDA figures. Waste disposal becomes problematic when the manure in the lagoons leaches into ground and surface water or spills directly into lakes, streams, and rivers. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that chicken, hog, and cattle excrement has polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and contaminated groundwater in 17 states.


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