The meat industry has a major negative impact on the earth, from polluting the water and land, to depleting our forests and precious species of the planet.

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In 2006, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Food released a report entitled "Livestock's Long Shadow" that discusses the detrimental effects the livestock industry has on our planet, including climate change, water use and depletion, and loss of biodiversity. The report summarizes the devastation caused by the meat industry stating it is "one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global." The report recommended that animal agriculture "be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity".

* 70% of pollution (land, water, air & ocean) is caused by the Agriculture Industry;
* Nearly 800 million people could be fed by all the grain currently fed to US livestock;
* 70% of United States grain goes to feeding farm animals;
* More than half of the water used for all purposes in the United States goes to livestock production;
* 132 gallons of water is needed to produce one pound of wheat;
* 1800 gallons of water is needed to produce one pound of grain fed beef.

Meat Industry and Our Water

The meat industry pollutes our natural bodies of water as well as our drinking water.

65% of California’s population is threatened by pollution in drinking water from dairy cow manure alone. According to the United Nations report, "Livestock’s Long Shadow," "In the United States, livestock are responsible for an estimated 55% of erosion, 37% of the pesticides applied, 50% of the volume of antibiotics consumed and for 32% of the nitrogen load and 33% of the phosphorus load into freshwater sources." Aside from the pollution and contamination, the livestock industry accounts for 8% of the global human water use with most of it, 7% are being used for watering crops.

Deforestation and Habitat Destruction

The livestock industry plays a major role in deforestation and habitat destruction. Clearing the trees and land to create space for grazing and feed crop production are key factors in land degradation and the loss of valuable animal species. Most animals raised for food are fed grains, either as a replacement for grazing or in addition to grazing. Huge amounts of forests have been cleared, causing animal species to either lose their habitat or be killed in the process of destroying the land for this demanding industry.

Air Pollution

Accounting for an astonishing 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions measured in carbon dioxide (C02) equivalence, the livestock industry plays a significantly greater role in greenhouse gas emissions than transportation. But contributing to carbon dioxide is not the only way the livestock industry is destroying our planet. According to the 2006 United Nations report, the livestock industry is responsible for higher shares of other gases that have higher global warming potential.

This industry is responsible for the contribution of:
37% percent of methane gases, a gas that has 23 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide;
65% of nitrous oxide produced from animal waste, a gas that has 300 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide;
and two-thirds or 64% of ammonia emissions, which contributes to acid rain and destruction of eco-systems.

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Impact of Meat Industry