What is Cowspiracy?
Cowspiracy is a documentary on “Netflix” by Kip Andersen. The documentary is about the truth behind animal agriculture. The documentary follows Andersen as he raises huge concerns about animal agriculture’s connection to climate change, deforestation, water usage, ocean dead zone.
What are the arguments being made?
Anderson has claimed the following, there is no sustainability in animal agriculture.
How is he supporting his argument?
He used the following facts to support his arguments.
- Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% or Greenhouse gasses compared to the combined emissions of all transportation, 13%.
- “Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions” is another fact used to further push his argument. The fact was retrieved from “ Goodland, R Anhang, J. ‘Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change were pigs, chickens and cows?’ ”.
- For some context, Methane is a natural gas and is the cleanest version of fossil fuel but when it is released into the atmosphere unburned it is dangerous since it is able to trap heat and contributes to global warming. Methane is released to the planet through coal production, natural gasses, oil and livestock. “Methane is 25-100 times more destructive than CO2 on a 20 year time frame” and “Methane has a global warming potential 86 times that of CO2 on a 20 year time frame” says “Shindell, Drew T, et al. “Improved Attribution of Climate Forcing to Emissions”. Science. 326, 716 (2009)”.
- Gas emissions related to agriculture are predicted to increase by 80% by 2050 while emissions related to energy are only predicted to increase by 20% by 2040. (http://academic.regis.edu/MFRANCO/Seminar%20in%20Biology%20research%20Literature/Papers/GobalDiets.pdf & https://www.energyglobal.com/downstream/refining/06012015/carbon-dioxide-emissions-forecast-025/)
- It takes 2,500 gallons of water to be able to produce a single pound of beef. (Robbins, John. “2,500 gallons all wet?” Earth Save: Healthy People Healthy Planet).
Why is this important?
It is important to understand how our choices are affecting us and our planet. Our decisions from as simple as what we eat play a part for what our future will look like. With fires occurring every year, California’s drought, pollution in landfills and in oceans killing wildlife and global warming, our environment is changing and not for the better. Our current decisions are what will either help us in the future.
The overall message of the documentary was to push for people to be vegan because it is the most sustainable way to live. I did not write this as a plea for you to turn vegan but for us as a society to be more conscious of how our decisions are affecting the planet. A critically conscious consumer can help reduce their carbon footprint in climate change via animal agriculture by limiting or cutting down on animal products such as eggs, meat, dairy, etc. Moving on from the consumer to the source, there are current alternatives for cattle feed and more being tested now. There is currently a company that specialities in a seaweed additive for cattle feed. The feed reduces the amount of emissions that are burped from cattle while not changing the taste of dairy and meat. However, there is a limited supply of the amount of the specific seaweed that was tested in the wild. The new challenge being tackled is how to produce more of it. The next issue for the future is getting cattle that feed on the open range to consume the seaweed feed. As our technology becomes more advanced and our climate crisis worsens, there will be new alternatives and options to help stop or atleast slow down the state of our climate crisis.
What is the connection to San Joaquin County?
San Joaquin County has a lot of livestock from horses to goats to cattle. The emissions from them contribute to our current climate crisis. It shows how our own communities contribute to bigger issues affecting the world and our future. There are around 217,756 cattle in San Joaquin County when comparing the ratio of cattle to humans (1:3.5) given the population of SJC (762,149; 2019).
For more information and more facts you can visit cowspiracy.com/facts.
“The Sustainability Secret.” COWSPIRACY, www.cowspiracy.com/facts.
Quinton, A. M. (2021, May 21). Feeding cattle seaweed reduces their greenhouse gas emissions 82 percent. Feeding Cattle Seaweed Reduces Their Greenhouse Gas Emissions 82 Percent. https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/feeding-cattle-seaweed-reduces-their-greenhouse-gas-emissions-82-percent#:~:text=In%202018%2C%20Kebreab%20and%20Roque,that%20contributes%20to%20methane%20production.
Rush, A. (2021). Steer at Marty Yahner’s 2,550-acre Cambria County Farm. How farms prepare for the next pandemic: Local milk, cheese and beef. photograph, Patton; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. https://www.post-gazette.com/business/bop/2021/02/08/Farms-Department-Agriculture-USDA-COVID-19-pandemic-cheese-beef-dairy-milk/stories/202102010003.