Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Population and Frightening Factory Farming

The growing human population has put two diametrically opposite pressures on the fellow creatures that inhabit the earth with us. Wild animals are being slowly but surely wiped out. This is called the Sixth Great Extinction. The populations of domesticated animals, that is, the ones whose body parts we place on the dinner table, however, are skyrocketing in parallel with human population.
Here are some numbers. World meat consumption went from 40 million tonnes in 1950 to 218 million tonnes in 2005 (a 5.5-fold increase!). The population of cattle in the world is over one billion. 70 billion chickens are slaughtered annually. The number of pigs and sheep are one billion and 1.2 billion, respectively.
There is no free lunch (sorry, couldn’t resist), thus, the impact of these gigantic numbers of animals is enormous. They require food, land and energy. At the same time they create methane (hello, global warming) and waste (hello, Walkerton tragedy).
But most frightening is that the crowded factory farms are perfect incubators of disease and mutant viruses (hello, mad cow disease and avian flu). The latest swine flu (A/H1N1) from Mexico, which had world health authorities in a panic, is but one of many outbreaks associated with pig farms. As human population continues to soar, so will the numbers of domesticated animals. That even more deadly diseases and viruses will follow is inevitable and unavoidable. Our children and grandchildren will face some ugly threats.
All this because there are too many humans on this planet. Let’s change our ways. Let’s leave our children animals they can love.

1 comment:

SESALMONY@aol.com said...

Brand new research by Russell Hopfenberg, Ph.D., "Genetic Feedback and Human Population Regulation", in the current issue of the journal, Human Ecology, May 2009.