Opinion: Agriculture and aquaculture escalate climate crisis

Genesis Hansen, Columnist

Science and animal activists bite back.

Could your double beef patty burger with bacon and extra cheese be the reason the ice caps are melting? Has your sushi roll regimen oh-fish-ally set us up for climate chaos?

Raising animals for food results in a large production of greenhouse gases (such as methane), which accelerate and dramatize the climate crisis of global warming, and politicians fail to recognize science in their rulings.

Animal product consumption is the prime suspect in this climate crisis, and citizens should reduce the amount they consume to stop the animal agriculture and aquaculture industries from desecrating our environment.

“Three meat companies – JBS, Cargill and Tyson – are estimated to have emitted more greenhouse gases last year than all of France and nearly as much as some of the biggest oil companies like Exxon, BP and Shell,” said Julie Majot from The Guardian.

Henning Steinfed is head of the livestock sector analysis and policy branch at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN in Rome, Italy. With 15 years of experience in agricultural and livestock policy, Steinfed’s book “Livestock’s Long Shadow” states that  livestock’s contribution to climate change is enormous.

“It currently amounts to about 18% of the global warming effect—an even larger contribution than the transportation sector worldwide. Livestock contributes 9% of total carbon dioxide emissions, but 37% of methane and 65% of nitrous oxide,” Steinfeld said in his book.

These industries are catalyzing devastations like animal extinction, soil degradation, water pollution and are shaving off hope to fix the situation we’re in.

As President of the Vegetarian and Vegan club on campus, Emily Barnett is a sophomore studying environmental science through applied ecology and is specifically concerned about how agriculture uses and pollutes our freshwater resources.

“There is not really a sustainable way to produce food [for the global population] through the meat, dairy or aquaculture industries. People really need to start phasing meat and dairy out from their lives altogether,” Barnett said.

Interested in reducing her carbon footprint, Barnett became motivated to change her diet.

“There’s a lot of misconceptions about the cost of going vegan. I don’t think we should downplay the difficulty of a lifestyle change, but I know it’s a lot more doable than people think,” Barnett said.

Poor waste management, product packaging and the massive consumption of energy, water and land compound the damages that corporations impose.

“These industries are polluting the air, water and other resources that humans and animals all share. We are destroying the planet for ourselves, as well as all other species,” Barnett said.

The scientific community has been screaming this message for years, but the increasing intensity of this crisis is also attributed to the undermining of scientists and neglect from politicians and consumers.

The March for Science seeks to advocate for the scientific community in politics, education and society. The movement makes the assertion that science should be informing policy on every level and that the field should be treated with more importance.

Portland will be hosting a thread of this national movement on April 14. This year’s movement is driven by activism. There will be a variety of speeches, tabling activities, and demonstrations.

Sumi Malik is a senior transportation planner at HDR Engineering and lead organizer of March for Science Portland.

“Oregon’s participation is important because we have always been at the forefront of laws and policymaking that are informed by science. We’ve become a shining example to the nation for science informing policy,” Malik said.

Active global citizens should be voting on bills and measures that contribute to emission regulation.

“This year is particularly important. Last year’s March was about taking a stand, and this year is about becoming active,” Malik said.

This issue is gaining speed on us and we don’t have much time left. Contact your representatives to let them know this is an issue worth caring about, reduce animal product consumption by exploring meat and dairy substitutions. We the people have the power and this fight for global welfare isn’t over.

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