There are plenty of options to reduce our impact on the environment, writes Alisa Demertzi.
In 2014 we are provided with many means to reduce our impact on the environment – from choosing petrochemical free shampoo, sacrificing the comfort of your all-leather-interior car for a bus trip, or paying the extra $6.50 carbon offset ticket to your summer music festival of choice. Heck, there are even bathmats made of living moss, or you could RIP in a biodegradable coffin, knowing that you’ve made the right choice.
Possibly the most critically overlooked environmental decision we make every day however, is none of the aforementioned – but what we choose to eat.
According to a United Nations report, 18 per cent of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to the livestock industry, and 30 per cent of the earth’s non-ice surface is used to grow the food that these animals eat. In comparison, only around 8 per cent of the earth’s land is used to feed us directly.
Huge amounts of food, energy, and water losses are encountered by growing food to feed animals, in turn to feed us. This is why vegans and vegetarians have significantly lower ecological footprints, compared to their omnivorous friends.
The WWF explains further: “Producing 1kg of beef requires 15 times as much land as producing 1kg of cereals, and 70 times as much land as 1kg of vegetables.”
Given that a plant-based diet has been proved valid by leading health organisations including WHO, vast amounts of water, land, fuel, fertilisers and other resources are being spent on an industry that could be viewed by the environmentalist within us as… rather futile.
We exist in a time where our influence on the earth’s ecosystems is so significant that for the first time in history, we can be regarded as a ‘force of nature’. Scientists claim that due to our actions, we have entered a new geological epoch; the Anthropocene.
There’s no indication of slowing down – the CSIRO claims that by 2050, global food production must increase by 70 per cent to account for our growing population.
Until we take the environment seriously, we’ll be eating like this until the cows come home.
Image: J D Hancock