"All the world's a stage we pass through." - R. Ayana

Monday, 8 February 2010

Beyond Beef: the Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture

Beyond Beef: the Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture

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Cattle and beef production is a primary threat to the global environment. It is a major contributor to deforestation, soil erosion and desertification, water scarcity, water pollution, depletion of fossil fuels, global warming, and loss of biodiversity.

We need to examine the devastating effects of the cattle culture that has come to shape and warp our world and the impact of White Australia on aboriginal culture. That is the anthropology, history, sociology, economics and ecology of this land we call Australia; A world in which the poorer peoples of the planet have been starved to support the beef addiction of a handful of wealthy nations.

The rape and pillage of stolen land from aboriginal Australians parallels that of the Native Americans. In Australia the introduced hard hoofed species have taking over and decimated a great deal of indigenous flora and fauna, lands and water which aboriginal looked after for thousands of years guided by their cultural lore.

Quote from Animal Liberation Australian professor Peter Singer: “Western-style meat production is cruel, unhealthy and damaging to the ecology.”

Soil Erosion and Desertification

Cattle production is turning productive land into barren desert in the American West and throughout the world. Soil erosion and desertification is caused directly by cattle and other livestock overgrazing.

Over cultivation of the land, improper irrigation techniques, and deforestation are also principal causes of erosion and desertification, and cattle production is a primary factor in each case.


Depletion of Fossil Fuels

Intensive animal agriculture uses a disproportionate amount of fossil fuels. Supplying the world with a typical American meat based diet means loss of Biodiversity

Global Warming

Cattle and beef production is a significant factor in the emission of three of the four global warming gases -- carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane.

Petrochemical fertilizers used to produce feed crops for grain-fed cattle release nitrous oxide, another greenhouse gas. Worldwide, the use of fertilizers has increased dramatically from 14 million tons in 1950 to 143 million tons in 1989. Nitrous oxide now accounts for 6 percent of the global warming effect.

Loss of Biodiversity

Riparian zones -- the narrow strips of land that run alongside rivers and streams where most of the range flora and fauna are concentrated -- have been the hardest hit by cattle grazing. More than 90 percent of the original riparian zones of Arizona and New Mexico are gone, according to the Arizona State Park Department. Colorado and Idaho have also been hard hit. The GAO reports that "poorly managed livestock grazing is the major cause of degraded riparian habitat on federal rangelands."

Unable to compete with cattle for food, wild animals are disappearing from the ranges. Between 1966 and 1983 Brazil estimates that 38 percent of its rain forest was destroyed for cattle pasture.2


By Benny Zable

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