Increasing Demand for Meat is Causing Worldwide Species Extinction
We all know the main talking points when it comes to the environmental impact of eating meat. Deforestation, greenhouse gases, water contamination, waterway deadzones, air pollution… the list of terrors goes on and on. What we may not always remember is that raising animals for slaughter is also extremely harmful for the animals whose habitats are destroyed so farmers have a place for their property to graze.
According to a 2015 study by Florida International University researchers, published in the journal Science for the Total Environment, modern exctinction rates of species around the world can mostly be traced back to meat consumption. This is an area of research that has only recently been investigated more thoroughly – and scientists are saddened by what they are finding. Gidon Eshel, a Bard College geophysicist reacted to the study:
“Now we can say, only slightly fancifully: You eat a steak, you kill a lemur in Madagascar. You eat a chicken, you kill an Amazonian parrot.”
By using existing data to predict the expansion of meat production, the researchers used maps of currently flourishing biodiversity “hotspots” to see where these two factors would overlap. What they found is that, within 15 “megadiverse” countries, space for livestock will likely increase by 30 to 50 percent – or 741 million acres. The lead author of the study, Brian Machovina, stated:
“These changes will have major, negative impacts on biodiversity. Many, many species will be lost.”
Even though meat consumption in the United States has been falling, worldwide consumption only grows. The authors’ suggestion for how to handle this terrifying prediction? It does not require calling upon world leaders, launching new technology, or making hefty donations to anyone. The remedy is simple: eat less meat.
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