Environmental Fallout From Factory Farming

Factory farming is a major contributor to global warming as it releases enormous quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Livestock farming (this includes all animal farming, not just factory farmed) accounts for around 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Incredibly, this is more than the global transport sector releases.

Carbon dioxide is not the only problem. Gases, including methane and nitrous oxide, are also produced in large quantities and are released into the environment through animal waste and fertilisers.

Livestock farming (again, all animal farming, not just factory farming) produces 37% of global methane emissions, and 65% of global nitrous oxide emissions. Both gases are more potent than carbon dioxide.

Forest clearance is a major problem. Forests provide carbon sinks and are essential in containing carbon dioxide, yet vast tracts of forests are cleared annually in order to create land to grow crops that are fed to animals, and to create the land on which to raise animals. Approximately one third of the land that is given over to growing crops is used for growing animal feed.

Factory farming also uses vast amounts of energy, both to rear the animals in the giant hangars and pens and feedlots, but also to grow the enormous amounts of feed they need.

Let’s not forget about water. According to the WWF, livestock production accounts for around 23% of all water used in agriculture – equivalent to more than 1,150 litres per person per day. Water is also used in vast quantities to irrigate the crops that are grown to feed the animals.

Waste produced and released by factory farms is a massive problem, causing major incidents of river and lake pollution, and through nitrogen emissions that turn into ammonia, water acidification and ozone layer depletion.