Over the historic drought that continues to shatter records across the Western United States, the parched zone now spans a dozen states and nearly 600 counties, from southern Texas to the northern Rockies. Hardest hit is California. As of last month, nearly 60 percent of the state is officially in an “exceptional” drought — the highest level, above “severe” — and meteorologists are seeing no immediate change in a relentlessly dry forecast. Indeed, scientists are warning that the state’s cyclical droughts could become longer and more frequent as the climate warms.
Already the drought has led to the “greatest water loss ever seen in California agriculture,” said a study last month by researchers at the University of California at Davis.
“A well-managed basin is used like a reserve bank account,” Howitt said. “We’re acting like the super rich who have so much money they don’t need to balance their checkbook.”
Factory Farming and the Environment
- According to the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, growing farm animal feed crops “places enormous demand on water resources: 87 percent of the use of freshwater in the U.S. is used in agriculture, primarily irrigation.” Worldwide, agriculture accounts for 93 percent of water depletion, with the vast majority of freshwater used for farm animal feed production. Producing one pound of animal protein requires about 100 times more water than producing a pound of grain protein.
- The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has estimated that 70 percent of land formerly supporting Amazon rainforests has been turned over to grazing.
- In fact, factory farming wastes so much water that you can save as much water by not eating a pound of beef as you can by not showering for almost six months. In addition to providing drinking water for farm animals and irrigation for feed crops, factory farms use scarce freshwater resources to flush manure out of barns and for other industrial uses. For example, industrial milking centers that use manure flush cleaning and automatic cow washing systems can use as much as 150 gallons of water per cow per day.
- Between watering the crops that farm animals eat, providing drinking water for billions of animals each year, and cleaning away the filth in factory farms, transport trucks, and slaughterhouses, the animal agriculture industry has a huge impact on the water supply. Producing one pound of beef takes an estimated 1,581 gallons of water, which is roughly as much as the average American uses in 100 showers.
- With over nine billion animals raised and slaughtered for human consumption each year in the U.S. alone, modern animal agriculture puts an incredible strain on natural resources like land, water, and fossil fuel. Factory farms yield a relatively small amount of meat, dairy, and eggs for this input, and in return produce staggering quantities of waste and greenhouse gases, polluting our land, air, and water and contributing to climate change.
To learn more about the devastating effects of factory farming on animals, human health, and the planet, explore the link http://www.farmsanctuary.org/
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