An autopsy of planet Earth: a reply

In an article published by the Vanguard on Oct. 31, 2016, writer John Larson addresses one of the most crucial issues the world is currently facing: climate change. Larson argues that climate change is due to a multitude of factors such as carbon dioxide and fossil fuels. Although it’s fair to say that both factors are leading contributors to global warming, the article fails to acknowledge the greatest contributor of them all: animal agriculture.

There is extensive research showing the impacts of animal agriculture on the environment. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations argues that the livestock sector emerges as one of the most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. Once we put the animal agriculture industry’s impact into numbers, it’s not hard to see why this is the case.

According to the groundbreaking documentary, Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions (more than the combined exhaust of all forms of transportation), 51 percent of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, 80–90 percent of all U.S. water consumption, and occupies 45 percent of the earth’s total land. Animal agriculture is also the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution and habitat destruction.

With all of these issues that animal agriculture presents to our planet, almost all of it is entirely unchallenged. Why? Since animal agriculture contributes over $790 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product, it’s easy to conclude that it is viewed as vital to the American economy. Therefore, zero governmental action has been taken in an effort to combat the industry’s unsustainable practices.

This intentional refusal to acknowledge the threats that this industry poses to our planet will end up costing us more than we could ever imagine. Although it may seem arbitrary that something as simple as cow farts are threatening our planet’s well-being, it is ultimately a proven reality that we cannot continue to ignore.

The best way to combat climate change is to adopt a plant-based diet. As of now, we are feeding at least 50 percent of all the grains in the world to livestock. According to an article featured in Cornell University’s, Cornell Chronicles, ecologists and animal scientists argue that the U.S. could feed nearly 800 million people with this amount of grain. Not only would this form of producing and eating food be more sustainable, but it would combat an array of other important issues such as famine and animal welfare.

Ultimately, the state of our planet is in our hands, and one of the major solutions lies within the way we eat. Could it get any simpler? Making plant-based food choices is not only incredibly easy in today’s society, but also indescribably beneficial to the state of our planet, our animals, and our health.

–Lauren Mash