Livestock, a Potential Victim and Cause of Climate Change
Nabaraj Shrestha, Yugal Raj Bindari, Kopila ShresthaLivestock, a cause of climate change
Climate change is today’s immense problem confronted by every living creature of the earth. Human beings, no doubt, are primarily responsible for this devastatingeffect. However, animals and/or their byproducts too are directly or indirectly linkedto this change. Livestock, primarily cattle, buffalo, poultry and pigs are also one of themost significant contributors to today’s serious environment problems.
Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options
–Food and AgricultureOrganization of the United Nations FAO, 2006, highlighted the substantial role of thefarm animal production sector. Identifying it as “a major threat to the environment”,the FAO found that the animal agriculture sector emits 18%, or nearly one-fifth, of human-induced Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, including;
9% of global carbondioxide (CO
) emissions- chiefly due tofertilizer production, feed transport, animal product processing, etc.
35-40% of global methane (NH
) emissions – chiefly due toenteric fermentation and manure.
64% of global nitrous oxide (N
O) emissions – chiefly due tofertilizer useThese levels will continue to rise as animal numbers grow to meet the escalatingdemands for meat and milk from developing countries. Agricultural emissions of nitrous oxide from manure and the production of artificial fertilizers are projected toincrease by 35-60% by 2030. Some developing regions will have very large increasesincluding parts of East Asia with an increase of 135% from enteric fermentation and86% for manure management. Deforestation for animal production accounts for 89.5% of all CO
livestock related emission and 34% of NH3 and N
O emissions.According to FAOSTAT (FAO, 2008), globally, approximately 56 billion landanimals are reared and slaughtered for human consumption annually, and livestock inventories are expected to double by 2050, with most increases occurring in thedeveloping world. As the numbers of farm animals reared for meat, egg, and dairy production rise, so do their GHG emissions. The U.S. Department of Agriculture(USDA, 2004) has noted that GHG emissions from livestock are inherently tied tolivestock population sizes because the livestock are either directly or indirectly thesource for the emissions.
Livestock, a victim of climate change
Animals/livestock are intrinsically dependent on the environment, and anyfluctuations in weather and climate can affect them. All animals do have a range of ambient environment temperatures termed the thermo neutral zone. This is the rangeof temperatures that are conducive to health and performance. The increase insurrounding temperature resulting of climate change causes heat stress to everylivestock.