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Theres been a lot of comment recently suggesting that we should all be eating less meat. Some of it
has been about health with evidence that eating a lot of red meat may be connected to heart
But people have also been asking if our meat consumption has a serious impact upon the
Its partly to do with the amount of meat we produce, but its also to do with the way in which we
produce it. As the worlds population gets larger and larger, it could be argued that far too much of
our land is given over to producing animal feed. Some commentators have calculated that it takes
seven kilograms of grain to produce one kilogram of meat. This seems very shocking, given that
much of the world still suffers from hunger. Why not produce all that grain for human beings instead
of for animals?
At the very least, there would seem to be a case for reducing how much meat we eat.
In addition to the argument about waste, theres the question of global warming. One of the gases
that makes a huge contribution to warming is methane and its claimed that raising animals for our
dinner tables produces 37% of the worlds methane. If thats the case, then reducing the number of
animals on farms would make a major contribution to dealing with climate change.
By way of reply, other people, including farmers, argue that meat forms an important part of our diet
and that without it we probably wouldnt get the vitamins we need. Vegetarians, they say, often have
to take extra pills to keep themselves healthy.
They also dispute how much land is given over to producing food for cows and sheep. They point out
that much of what cows and sheep eat comes from open grassland, where they spend most of the
year. So they are not as dependent as we might suppose upon food that has been specially grown.
The farmers and others also claim that the fields that are used to produce food for cows and sheep
couldnt in any case be used for producing the kinds of grain that human beings use in bread or flour.
But what about the increase in the worlds population and the growing demand all over the world
for more meat? The answer they suggest and one especially hears it from farmers is that we
simply need to make the production of meat more and more efficient. Of course, they then have to
explain whether greater efficiency means greater use of chemicals in growing animal foods and less
comfortable living conditions for the animals involved.


OK today, were going to be looking at dunes. A dune is a hill of sand. It might be created by the
movement of the wind or by water. In some places these dunes can be an important natural safety
feature, but in others they can be a threat to towns and settlements. Dunes are quite common along
sea coasts and they are also, of course, very much part of the desert.
Along coasts, dunes are important to us because they protect the land from the sea during storms.
They also provide fantastic natural habitats for wildlife and prevent beaches from disappearing.
However, despite the key role they play, the dunes are often threatened by building development or
by projects to make beaches more accessible for tourists.
Protecting sand dunes is going to become more and more important as they come under greater
threat from this human activity. A number of methods have been tried in New Zealand and Canada
for example, and have been very successful.
One way is to plant trees and bushes which reduce the strength of the wind. They also grow roots
which hold the sand and prevent it from spreading. Another approach is to build fences to limit how
much the sand can move. A third is to build paths made of wood which direct walkers around the
dunes, so they dont get damaged by people walking over them.
Sand dunes along the coast protect towns and villages from the sea. But elsewhere, dunes can have
a negative impact on human beings. This is especially true in desert areas where the wind moves
dunes across quite large distances and they can threaten areas where people are living.
This movement of dunes is also known as desertification, this is where land that was once used for
farming becomes a desert. The result of this is that the land can no longer support populations.
People are forced to leave their homes and move to areas where food can grow.
It is also possible to have sand avalanches like those that happen with snow, where a large amount
of sand falls down one side of a dune and can bury somebody alive.
Preventing sand dunes from destroying villages and crops is now a priority for aid programmes. One
way of stopping dunes from moving is to put oil on them. But this isnt a good solution it damages
the desert as a habitat for animals and other wildlife. Fences are a safe alternative. They can be
useful in slowing down the movement of dunes. In fact, just like in coastal areas, building fences and
planting trees are the most effective and safe methods even if the reasons for doing so are very
With global warming, it seems likely that deserts will extend more and more into inhabited areas and
areas used for farming. So the need to prevent this happening is now becoming urgent.

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