To answer some questions about the facts presented in our video "Global warming: what can you do?", below are explanations with references to the evidence for these and other facts.
Global warming and animal agriculture
"Animal farming emits 50% of Australia's greenhouse gases"
The amount of Australia's greenhouse gases emitted by animal agriculture is usually reported at about 15%. This is because these figures use a 100 year time scale and ignore the warming impact of short lived greenhouse gases. The use of a 100 year time scale is a convention that may have been a valid decision decades ago when the urgency of global warming was not as apparent but now there is a much better case for using a 20 year time frame, being more in line with the possibility of reaching various climatic tipping points. Also, it is now realised that short lived greenhouse gases have a very significant impact and the warming effect of these emissions should not be ignored.
If we include short lived gases and use a 20 year time scale we find that animal agriculture emits 50% of Australia's greenhouse gases. See more in the first section of Impact of a vegan agricultural system on the environment.
For a full analysis see the paper "Neglected Transformational Responses: Implications of Excluding Short Lived Emissions and Near Term Projections in Greenhouse Gas Accounting" and the BZE Zero Carbon Australia Land Use report (p68-69).
The figure of 50% is also true at the global level. See the paper Livestock and Climate Change, by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang, Worldwatch Institute.
"Animal agriculture takes up 56% of the Australian landmass"
Since European settlement, the Australian continent has been extensively modified by animal agriculture, with livestock (mainly cattle, sheep and dairy) grazing native or modified pastures on 56% (in 2000) of the continent. About 3% of land is used to grow plant foods for humans. See Land Use in Australia - At a Glance published by the Australian Department of Agriculture. Since production of this video, the figure for animal agriculture has reduced to 54.3%.
See more in the first section of Impact of a vegan agricultural system on land use.
"Animal farming uses twice as much grain as humans consume"
Most of the grain grown and used in Australia is fed to farmed animals, mainly beef cattle, dairy cattle, poultry and pigs. In good years Australia can export large amounts of grains, but of those grains used within Australia, about 66% is fed to farmed animals. Most of these grains are wheat and barley.
Source: Australian Feed Grain Supply and Demand Report 2016, Feed Grain Partnership
- Cowspiracy facts page for international and US figures.
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