Species Extinction and Habitat Destruction Impacts

 Species Extinction and Habitat Destruction Impacts

  • Livestock covers 45% of the earth’s total land. (Livestock Exchange, 2011)
  • Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction (U.S. EPA, Office of Research and Development, 2004)
  • In all major cattle producing countries, wildlife habitat is being destroyed in order to create cattle pasture — as in the rainforests of Central and South America. The huge cattle population is destroying habitat and using up food and water needed by wildlife. In the United States and Australia, cattle ranching has resulted in the purposeful mass extermination of predator and “nuisance” species (the war on wolves, coyotes, bears, small animals) — it’s a virtual war on wildlife. In Africa, millions of wild animals have died of thirst or starvation after finding their migratory paths blocked by fences built to contain cattle. (mcspotlight.org)
  • Livestock’s presence in vast tracts of land and its demand for feed crops also contribute to biodiversity loss; 15 out of 24 important ecosystem services are assessed as in decline, with livestock identified as the culprit. (Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO)
  • Land being converted from tropical forest (a huge carbon sink) to cattle grazing is increasing greenhouse gas emissions, carbon dioxide and worsening climate change. (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO)
  • As old growth and primitive forests are cleared to create new pastures for cattle, this has become a major driver of deforestation, especially in Latin America where, for example, some 70 percent of former forests in the Amazon have been turned over to cattle and livestock grazing. In the Amazon specifically, animal agriculture is responsible for 91% of Amazon destruction. (Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO)
  • “If all the grain currently fed to livestock in the United States were consumed directly by people, the number of people who could be fed would be nearly 800 million. The seven billion livestock in the U.S. consume five times as much grain as is consumed directly by the entire U.S. population,” reports ecologist David Pimentel of Cornell University (Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dept.)
  • The rain forests of Central American and the Amazon are being burned and cleared to make way for cattle pastures. Since 1960, more than 25 percent of the Central American forests have been lost to beef production, primarily for export to the United States and Europe. It has been estimated that for every quarter-pound fast-food hamburger made from Central American beef, 55 square feet of tropical forest — including 165 pounds of unique species of plants and animals — is destroyed. (Beyond Beef)
  • The world’s 1.3 billion cattle are eroding soil and causing desertification of grasslands. More than 60 percent of the world’s rangelands have been damaged by overgrazing during the past half century. In the United States, cattle have done more to alter the environment of the West than all the highways, dams, strip mines, and power plants built put together. (mcspotlight.org)
  • In addition to the almost ten billion land animals killed in the U.S. each year directly for human consumption, hundreds of thousands of wild animals (prairie dogs, coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, bears, bison, and others) are exterminated to keep them from interfering with agricultural operations. Similarly, tens of millions of starlings and blackbirds are poisoned each year to keep them from eating animal feed. An even greater threat to wildlife is posed by the destruction of their habitats. Animal agriculture turns hundreds of acres of forest, wetlands, and other habitats into grazing and animal feed cropland. (A Well Fed World, awfw.org)



Photo credit: Bart Heird via photopin

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