In 2006, environmental and animal rights groups together targeted ConocoPhillips to demand that ConocoPhillips stay out of the habitat of the Little Smoky woodland caribou, an endangered species on the verge of extinction.
Meat is an Environmental Issue
The environmental movement is becoming increasingly aware of the extensive environmental damage produced by animal agriculture. As outlined in a recent Food & Agriculture Organization report, animal agriculture is identified as a major contributor to land degradation, pollution, greenhouse gases, and loss of biodiversity. Livestock were named responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, a staggering number given that this represents more greenhouse gases than produced by transport.1
Animal agriculture is the single largest user of land, with 26% of the Earth surface used for grazing and another 33% used for feed crop production. 70% of previously forested land in the Amazon is now being used as grazing land for livestock, which leads to degraded soil through overgrazing, compaction, and erosion. Livestock now make up 20% of the total terrestrial animal biomass, damaging wildlife habitats and the ecosystems they live in.1
Animal agriculture additionally accounts for 8% of human water use, mostly for feed crop irrigation. It is the largest source of water pollution, a result from the animal wastes produced and antibiotics, hormones, fertilizers and chemicals used by the industry. The industry is also responsible for producing two-thirds of the ammonia derived from human activities, a significant contributor to acid rain and the destruction of ecosystems.1
This increasing awareness has had a major impact on the environmental community, with many individuals adopting a vegan lifestyle and uniting with animal liberationists to promote the adoption of more localized plant-based farming systems.
Animals, Nature, and Human Superiority
The environmental and animal liberation movements are common in denying human superiority over the other living beings with whom we share this earth. During colonial times, images of the wilderness as dark and dangerous encouraged the control of nature for economic advance. Both native plants and animals were to be dominated by man and transformed into human resources, as were any native populations living in harmony with nature.2 This cultural paradigm continues today, with multinational corporations exploiting the natural world at unprecedented levels.
Environmentalists and animal liberationists have connected on many fronts. Activists have joined to fight the WTO whose trade rules threaten the well-being of ecosystems and the wild animals that inhabit them. Increased understanding of the importance in plant and animal diversity to ecosystems and attempts to preserve endangered species and wild habitats have also united these movements.
1Steinfeld, H. Gerber, P. Wassenaar, T. Castel, W. Rosales, M. de Haan, C. Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (2006).
Livestock's long shadow: Environmental issues and options. Retrieved May 17, 2009 from FAO Corporate Document Repository Web site: http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00.HTM
2Merchant, C. (1998). The death of nature. In M. E. Zimmerman, J. B. Callicot, G. Sessions, K. J. Warren, & J. Clark (Eds.) Environmental Philosophy, Second Edition, (pp.277-290). Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.
This website is meant to be an introduction, rather than a comprehensive analysis, of these issues. Please contact us with any comments or suggestions on how to improve the site. To get active check out The Canadian Animal Liberation Movement - CALMaction.org