Farming with animals is concerned with the branch of agriculture which involves raising animals for milk, eggs, meat, and other animal products. It also includes additional high-quality food resources and manure for fertilizers. Apart from that, this blessing comes with the disguise. Farming with animals is a leading culprit when it comes to affecting the environment. The animal farming sector is the largest factor contributing to air pollution, land pollution, soil degradation, slaughtering and rearing of innocent farm animals, and reducing water supplies in the environment. (Scanes, 2018) This sector encompasses the production of feed grain which requires energy expenditures such as water and chemical inputs to transport all animal products. Thus, this sector provides all the blessings along with the considerable cost to the climate. This essay evaluates how farming with animals is affecting the environment and contributing to climate change as well as global warming.
Changes in the environment can be influenced by farming with animals as animals are the major emitter of Greenhouse gases (GHGs). Scientists have found out that animal farming and animal products are responsible for nearly 18% of human-induced three significant gases Greenhouse gases namely methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide. Therefore, the emission of greenhouse gases is increasing day by day as the number of farm animals is growing. In the feed production sector of animal farming, fossil fuels are burnt to produce fertilizers for the farm animals especially the artificial nitrogenous fertilizer to cultivate feed for farmed chickens and cows. This fertilizer, in return, releases a huge amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere rising the GHGs in the ecosystem. On the other hand, milk, meat, and other animal products humans use also contribute to human-induced GHGs in the climate.
Moreover, billions of cows and chickens crammed to expanded farms require a large surface area of land which leads to deforestation. Land requirement for expanding farms for chickens and cows is turning cropland and woods into grazing land and also for producing feed for farm animals. This destruction leads to a substantial cost of losing the forests from the ecosystem. So, carbon dioxide and GHGs are not getting absorbed in the atmosphere and therefore released heavily into the environment. Furthermore, the human disturbance due to animal farming is the consequence in the form of desertification due to the overgrazing of cows and other animals. This also comes because of the trampling of vegetative land which tends to reduce the productivity of crops. (Leifeld, 2012)
Land use for the purpose of farming is also reducing methane oxidation which is produced in an enormous amount by chickens and cows. Scientists have reported that methane oxidation by micro-organisms present in the soil is estimated as 84 times more effective than carbon dioxide gas to trap the heat caused due to global warming in the atmosphere. Methane which cows and chickens produce during their process of digestion and through their feces released out in the atmosphere rather than being utilized.
Moreover, farmed chickens and cows generate an estimated 355 million tons of manure. Indeed, manure is a significant element to fertilize the crops for cultivating vegetation for humans and feeding for farm animals. However, the manure produced worldwide has exceeded the quantity and the available land is not enough to absorb it. Resultantly, this effective manure turns into hazardous waste which due to lack of availability for being utilized becomes a major source of threatening the quality of soil, water, and air in the environment. (Scanes, 2018)
In summary, farming with animals mitigates the environmental changes and leads to serious destructions such as desertification, deforestation, trapping of heat, enormous GHGs emissions, and global warming. However, incorporating individual initiatives of relying less on meat as well as on dairy products can slow down the dire effects of climate change for the future.
Scanes, C. G. (2018, January 1). Chapter 18 – Impact of Agricultural Animals on the Environment (C. G. Scanes & S. R. Toukhsati, Eds.). ScienceDirect; Academic Press. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128052471000253?via%3Dihub
Leifeld, J. (2012). How sustainable is organic farming? Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 150, 121–122. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2012.01.020