Jeremy Rifkin Blog

Is Animal Husbandry Really the Number Two Cause of Global Warming Emissions?

When we think of the environment and the problems it currently faces, it’s easy to assume that the problem is due to fossil fuels, but this isn’t always the case.

Animal husbandry is a term that’s used to describe animals that are raised for meat, eggs, milk and other products. Although this is a practice that has been carried out for many years, the rate of production has increased significantly, meaning that more emissions are being produced as a result.

Unlike the fears surrounding fossil fuels and other emissions, not many seem fearful at the rate at which meat is produced, and if the problem is recognised by all soon, then there could be serious ramifications.

How Serious Is Animal Husbandry?

There are many that would assume that agricultural practices are the best way forward when dealing with a growing populous, with some even suggesting farming is moved indoors in conjunction with the efforts already being made outdoors.

Unfortunately, many are missing the point when it comes to the problem this creates. Firstly, an astonishing 40% of agricultural land is used to produce grain and feed for animals.

Secondly, the model currently being used in inefficient at best, given that it can take ten pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat.

Other Ramifications of Intense Agricultural Farming

Although many consider the use of intense agricultural farming to be the answer to global warming, this isn’t the case.

The biggest problems associated with intense agriculture is the amount of methane and nitrous oxide produced. For example, the amount of fertilizer needed to produce grain release large amounts of co2.

In conjunction with this, animals consuming the grain will also emit methane, which while not as potent as co2 can still affect the environment in a negative way.

If Intense Agricultural Farming Isn’t the Answer, Then What Is?

When pointing out the pitfalls of intensive agriculture, many may assume that the use of GMO foods is the way forward, but there are very few that understand the inner workings of GMO to make them a worthwhile venture.

There’s also the patenting of GMOs to factor in. While some may argue the need to patent GMO foods, the end goal should be finding a sustainable way to provide food moving forward.

There have also been instances where the effects of GMOs on the environment haven’t been factored in, as seen with the release of the Ice-minus bacteria,

Marker-assisted selection is a more viable way forward, and many life science companies have already taken the reigns in this regard. The use of marker-assisted selection allows for food in short supply and use its genetic makeup which allows for more robust crops.

The way that power is produced will also have a determining factor on the production of food in the future. Although there are many businesses still relying on fossil fuel for their food production, there are others that are harnessing the benefits of renewable energies, and this is slowly started to be recognised around the world.

Those making the change are not only finding that the production of their own energy is cheaper than having to rely on fossil fuel, but energy not being used can be sent to another destination with ease.

Will It Be Easy to Make a Change to Renewable Energy?

The longer than something is relied on, the more difficult it can be to embrace change. However, a change is needed otherwise there could be a shortage of food and fuel to sustain future generations.

Just because a change is difficult doesn’t mean it’s impossible, but governments do need to recognise the dangers that could occur if a change isn’t made sooner rather than later.

Just as many governments seek to reduce carbon emissions from motor vehicles, similar steps need to be taken to introduce a more sustainable way of creating power that not only provides more cost-effective fuel but allows Third-World countries to prosper further.

Countries such as Iceland and Sweden have introduced renewable energy as part of their social infrastructure, and the Blue Lagoon power plant in Iceland has even become a tourist attraction.

Is Going Fully Organic Achievable?

For the most part, farmers would like nothing more than to be fully organic, as they receive a premium, and consumers have embraced the ice of organic food. Unfortunately, the change can be a problematic one for farmers, as the land they use would need to lay fallow for several years.

This simply isn’t an option of farmers, as they obviously use the land to generate an income. The idea of supplementing farmers to let their land lay fallow may seem extreme to some, but the cost of this will allow for less energy cost and more benefits to the environment.

Where Does the Internet of Things Fit In?

In order to achieve a more sustainable future, the world needs to embrace change, and the way in which the Internet is used will play a big part in the change needed. The Internet of Things in layman’s terms is the way we’re connected to the digital world.

As the Internet has grown, so too has the independence of users, and the Internet means that businesses can be self-sufficient in that they can produce their own power and can often mean that there is no requirement for a middleman.

The production of meat can be just as harmful as the use of fossil fuels, and it’s important that changes are made sooner rather than later to lessen the dependency of animal husbandry and finding more effective ways of acquiring food for future generations.