Magazine article USA TODAY

Global Impact of Meat Consumption

Magazine article USA TODAY

Global Impact of Meat Consumption

Article excerpt

Growing demand for meat has become a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening humanity's future, maintains the World Watch Institute, Washington, D.C. Total meat consumption has increased fivefold in the past half-century, putting extreme pressure on Earth's limited resources, including water, land, feed, and fuel.

"Now, It's Not Personal!"--a survey of each major category of environmental impact regarded as critical to the sustainability of civilization--reveals how central a challenge this once-marginal issue has become:

Deforestation and grassland destruction, The world's appetite for meat is razing forests at an accelerating rate. In Central America, 40% of all the rainforests have been cleared or burned down in the last 40 years, mostly for cattle pasture. In the process, natural ecosystems, where a variety of plant and animal species thrive, are destroyed and replaced with monoculture grass.

Fresh water. Water experts calculate that humans are consuming half of the available fresh water on the planet--leaving the other half to be divided among 1,000,000 or more species. Producing eight ounces of beef requires 25,000 liters of water.

Water disposal. …

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