A UNEP report argues that “both intensive (industrial) and non-intensive (traditional) forms of meat production result in the release of greenhouse gases (GHGs). As meat supply and consumption increase around the world, more sustainable food systems must be encouraged.”
Today, “the livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems” (Steinfeld et al. 2006). This includes stresses such as deforestation, desertification, “excretion of polluting nutrients, overuse of freshwater, inefficient use of energy, diverting food for use as feed and emission of GHGs” (Janzen 2011). Perhaps the most worrisome impact of industrial meat production, analyzed and discussed in many scientific publications in recent years, is the role of livestock in climate change. The raising of livestock results in the emission of methane (CH4) from enteric fermentation1 and nitrous oxide (N2O) from excreted nitrogen, as well as from chemical nitrogenous (N) fertilizers used to produce the feed for the many animals often packed into “landless” Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).
Lots of good, scary information at the link, alas accompanied by an extremely attractive photo of a burger and fries.