The “single biggest cause” of air pollution

We humans are the only beings who can control and manipulate the environment, destroy it or preserve it. Even some irresponsible politicians claims otherwise we all know that the world is on the verge to collapse and that the environmental situation we face in the world is the direct result of thoughtless human activity. Simple things like separating our trash, using energy-efficient light bulbs, turning off light when leaving the room, turning off water while brushing teeth helps the environment and it is good to see that the behavior of consumers in the more developed countries has changed to the positive over the last decades. Slowly people start to realize how important the environment is and adopt their live style but there is something you could do that can helps far more! Reduce the amount of animal sourced food.

Did you know that:

  • Livestock contribute 40 % of the global value of agricultural output and support the livelihoods and food security of almost a 1.3 billion people.
  • Livestock is the world’s largest user of land resources, with grazing land and cropland dedicated to the production of feed representing almost 80 % of all agricultural land. Feed crops are grown in one-third of total cropland, while the total land area occupied by pasture is equivalent to 26 % of the ice-free terrestrial surface.
  • Main consumer of meat are the upper and middle class of the world population and the middle class is rapidly growing. The researchers predict that the majority of the increased demand will occur in Asia, Africa and Latin-America, especially in the so-called middle-class of society. At present this middle-class comprises two billion of the world’s population of seven billion people, and is anticipated to increase to around five billion of a population of nine billion in 2050 resulting in a demand of nearly 500.000.000 tons (right a half billion tons) of meat.
  • That milk output is set to climb from 580 to 1043 million tonnes.
  • When emissions from land use and land use change are included, the livestock sector accounts for 7.1 Gigatones or 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 (N2O), which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2 ( Most of this comes from manure). Globally, 37 percent of methane (CH4) emissions come from livestock production. Methane can trap up to 100 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide (CO2) over a five-year period.
  • On a commodity-basis, beef and cattle milk are responsible for the most emissions, respectively, contributing 41 percent and 20 percent of the sector’s overall green house gas (GHG) outputs. (This figure excludes emissions from cow manure and cattle used as drought power). They are followed by pig meat, (9 percent of emissions), buffalo milk and meat (8 percent), chicken meat and eggs (8 percent), and small ruminant milk and meat (6 percent). The remaining emissions are sourced to other poultry species and non-edible products.
  • Emission intensities (i.e. emissions per unit of product) vary from commodity to commodity. They are highest for beef (almost 300 kg CO2-eq per kilogram of protein produced), followed by meat and milk from small ruminants (165 and 112kg respectively). Cow milk, chicken products and pork have lover global average emission intensities (below 100 CO2-eq/kg.) (At the sub-global level, within each commodity type there is very high variability in emission intensities, as a result of the different practices and inputs to production used around the world.
  • When factory farm waste decomposes, it releases airborne particulate matter along with harmful gases. These particulates can include dry manure, feathers, bits of feed, and animal dander. Inhaling larger particulates can cause respiratory irritation, bronchitis, decline in lung function and organic dust toxic syndrome. According to the CDC, smaller particulates can even be absorbed into the body, causing systematic effects including cardiac arrest. That’s some powerful dust!
  • According to a new report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport. It is also a major source of land and water degradation.
  • Creating new pastures is one of the major factors of deforestation, especially in Latin America where about 70% of the deforested areas previously occupied by the Amazon Rain-forest is now covered with pastures for grazing livestock.



Now considering that farming is the “single biggest cause” of air pollution why we don’t make a very little adjustment more? Let’s say we all decide we don’t eat animal sourced food for one single day a week. This simple decision would save 1 Gigatone CO2! tons! And you know it is healthy too.

We don’t ask you to become a vegetarian or a vegan, we just ask to be a bit considerate when it comes to select your food. Now when you plan your next week diet go for a day where you eat salad and veggies but select regional products.

Bon appetite.

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