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Conservation – Wednesday, March 15

“Climate change poses a fundamental threat to everything we love. Melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and new and more frequent weather extremes will leave no continent untouched. Impacts are already being felt by many communities and ecosystems worldwide. Water supplies are shrinking, crop yields are dropping, forests are burning, and our oceans are becoming more acidic. This has huge implications for our livelihoods and human security.”– World Wildlife Fund 

Extreme weather events are increasing. Extremes of heat, more intense droughts, more dangerous floods, droughts and storms, and more torrential downpours are proving to have drastic effects on animals, their habitat and their well-being. Think polar bears suffering from less food and habitat with glaciers melting at alarming rates, coral bleaching leading to habitat and species loss and stronger storms with historical floods in the U.S.

Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas with 25 times more global warming potential than carbon dioxide. In America, the average cow releases an average of 117 pounds of methane per year. 14.5 percent of all greenhouse gas pollution can be attributed to livestock, and 65 percent comes from raising beef and dairy cattle.

Currently, 7 billion people on Earth are sharing 7.68 billion acres of arable land. This would be plenty of space for one acre per person with space left over for wildlife and enjoying nature, camping and kayaking. However, meat consumption takes up three times that, requiring wild lands to be used for raising animals and growing their food. 70 percent of our planet’s agricultural land is used for livestock production (2006 FAO report). 30 percent of all terrestrial land on Earth is used for livestock (John D. Sutter, CNN).

Just in America, 20 million acres of land are used to grow alfalfa with about 1 million of that in California alone to support the cattle industry. The Amazon rainforest is being cut down at a rapid rate to grow feed for cattle. The beef industry directly affects many endangered species, including golden lion tamarins.

Most governments and scientists agree that global warming has to stay under 2 degrees C change to avoid catastrophic climate change. Global temperatures have already risen 1 degree since Industrial Revolution (c. 1750). We can still avoid danger, but action is needed!

A great solution is Meatless Monday! By taking meat out of your diet for one day each week, you can help make a difference. Try it yourself and share this info with friends and family!
Carissa Bishop
Conservation Education Initiatives Supervisor

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl