In which the writer proposes:

Splitting conventional wisdoms and inspecting for rot.
Wrestling with the status quo.
Weighing environmental and economic absurdities.
Disentangling metaphors.

Friday 28 November 2014


Many new studies on global impacts of cattle, and comparisons with other choices:

"Calculations show that environmental cost per calorie of dairy, poultry, pork and eggs are mutually comparable, but strikingly lower than the impacts of beef."

 Report above indicates Beef production requires 28 times the land of the other averaged group, 11 times the irrigation water, and produces 5 times Greenhouse Gases.

Following charts from UBC Virtual Water Report, show water requirements and water use in the Okanagan and the high consumption for beef production. Some recent calculations by the Ministry of Agriculture for the Kettle basin indicate water demand estimates for beef production at more than 83% of total demand.

 "Beef requires the largest amount of water, has one of the most inefficient energy conversion rates, produces by far the highest nutrients in manure."  UBC Report on Virtual Water. Hans Schreier & Darren Pang   

See also Schreier Report: Better by the Drop
     Livestocks ( primarily cattle's)  contribution to environmental problems is on a massive scale. The impact is so significant that it needs to be addressed with urgency.

    The environmental impact per unit of livestock production must be cut in half, just to avoid increasing the level of damage beyond its present level. About 73% of rangelands in dry areas, have been degraded to some extent, mostly through overgrazing, compaction and erosion created by livestock action

    Livestock sector is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions measured in CO2 equivalent. This is a higher share than transport.

    Livestock now account for about 20% of the total terrestrial animal biomass, and the 30% of the earth's land surface that they now pre-empt was once habitat for wildlife.

    While regulating scale, inputs, wastes and so on can help, a crucial element is the correct pricing of natural resources such as land, water and use of waste sinks. Most frequently natural resources are free or underpriced. which leads to overexploitation and pollution.

    A top priority is to achieve prices and fees that fully reflect the full economic and environmental costs, including all externalities.  This list from: Report by Food & Agriculture Organization of the U.N.   Livestocks Long Shadow.

Other resources on local impacts:

 Forest Practices Board Report:                The Effect of Range Practices on Grasslands 

historical grazing has resulted in significantly altered grassland status today (i.e.  it is far from its natural condition);

 • recovery of grasslands towards a natural condition is slow, and in some cases  may not be possible without further intervention; and,

 • recent grazing practices have further slowed the recovery to natural condition on some sites.”

 Forest Practices Board Report:       
                                                 Effects of Cattle Grazing near Streams, Lakes & Wetlands

"The public would not tolerate this level of damage if it were caused by a logging operation,” said board chair Bill Cafferata. "Clear and measurable standards are needed to protect sensitive riparian areas.”
Boundary Alliance Reports on Water Quality:  E.coli Counts in Local Streams 2013

                                                                           E.coli Counts inLocal Streams 2009
Boundary Alliance article:                                      The Problem withRange Cattle.

 A copy of this article is posted on the Boundary Alliance website: