Good piece in the NYT Week in Review on the explosion of global meat supply and it’s attendant stresses on the environment:
Americans eat about the same amount of meat as we have for some time, about eight ounces a day, roughly twice the global average. At about 5 percent of the world’s population, we “process” (that is, grow and kill) nearly 10 billion animals a year, more than 15 percent of the world’s total.
Growing meat (it’s hard to use the word “raising” when applied to animals in factory farms) uses so many resources that it’s a challenge to enumerate them all. But consider: an estimated 30 percent of the earth’s ice-free land is directly or indirectly involved in livestock production, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, which also estimates that livestock production generates nearly a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases — more than transportation.
I don’t have much hope for the next Farm bill, but it seems like there’s finally starting to be a crack in the facade of industrial agriculture, if simply because the world just can’t sustain another billion people consuming at American levels.