Why Green?

Global Warming

Global warming, or as government officials call it – climate change, has had devastating impacts on our nation’s economy and the public welfare. It has been linked conclusively with prolonged droughts and torrential rains, leading to more frequent crop failures, wildfires, and inland floods. Global warming is melting the earth’s massive ice caps, leading to rising sea levels and flooding of coastal communities.

Global warming is attributed largely to human release of greenhouse gases, so called because they trap the sun’s heat near the earth’s surface. The principal greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, all associated with animal agriculture.

A key source of carbon dioxide is the burning of forests to create pastures for cows and sheep. Another is operation of machinery to grow animal feed and to transport animals to and from slaughter.

Methane is 20 time as effective in trapping the sun’s heat as carbon dioxide. Much of it is emitted by the intestinal tracts of cows, sheep, and other ruminant animals and through decomposition of animal manure.

Nitrous oxide is estimated to be nearly 300 times as effective in trapping the sun’s heat as carbon dioxide. Much of it comes from the vast open pits used to store animal waste. According to a United Nations report, animal agriculture accounts for a staggering 65 percent of worldwide emissions.


Beyond contributing to global warming, air pollutants generated by animal agriculture have been associated with increased incidence of respiratory diseases.

The principal actors are ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, and particulates from animal waste pits. Downwind residents are exposed to fertilizers and pesticides sprayed on crops.


The rain and melting snow flows that run off factory farms and animal feed croplands dump more pollution load into our waterways – lakes, streams, and estuaries – than all other human activities combined.

This runoff contains soil particles, salts, organic debris, fertilizer, and pesticides. Soil particles smother fish eggs and bottom-dwelling organisms and block stream flow. Salts, primarily sodium and potassium chloride, also referred to as “dissolved solids,” raise salinity of the water, rendering it unsuitable for some organisms. Organic debris feeds microorganisms that deplete the water’s oxygen supply and kill the fish. Fertilizers, mostly nitrates and phosphates, spur algal blooms that smother or poison aquatic life. Pesticides kill all living organisms.

Another major source of water pollution are the animal waste storage sites. During major storms and floods, these massive sources of organic debris and manure, wind up in the nearest waterway. Some of the waste leaks gradually into vital groundwater supplies below.

Waste from mid-Atlantic pig and poultry factory farms has destroyed fish populations along the Eastern seaboard. In the Gulf of Mexico, factory farm pollution dumped by the Mississippi River creates a “dead zone” as large as the state of Massachusetts.

Land and Water Resources

A meat-heavy diet requires 10-20 times as much land as a plant-based diet. Nearly half of the world’s grains and soybeans are fed to animals, resulting in a huge waste of food calories.

Animal agriculture’s insatiable demand for feed crops is chiefly responsible for turning lush forests, meadows, and other wildlife habitats into barren, lifeless deserts. Trees are clear-cut and burned, and the land is turned into animal pasture or feed crop land. In less than a decade, overgrazing and nutrient loss turn the once productive land into a wasteland.  

This demand for feed crops presses into service arid lands that require irrigation. Irrigation now accounts for more than 80 percent of all water available for use in the U.S. and leads to critical water shortages and bitter conflicts among water users, particularly in the Western states.


In addition to its wholesale destruction of wildlife habitats to produce animal feed, animal agriculture kills millions of animals directly. Cattle ranchers, aided and abetted by U.S. government agents, shoot, poison, and burn alive millions of prairie dogs, coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, bears, bison, starlings, blackbirds, and other wild animals who are deemed to interfere with ranching operations.