Spoiler: it’s not fossil fuels or taking long showers.
Directors and filmmakers Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn connect factory farming to global warming in the 2014 documentary “Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret”. Unlike many films about factory farming, this one takes an approach more directed at the environmental effects, rather than the brutality and inhumane treatment of the animals (though it is mentioned, as it is a major part of the industry). To visualize:
As members of society in the United States, particularly in California where we are suffering from a drought, we are told that the most effective ways to save the planet are to take shorter showers, turn lights off when you leave a room, not to drive cars, and to recycle properly. While all of these things do have an impact, it is VERY minimal. For example, domestic water usage (showers, sprinkler systems, dishwashers, etc.) only accounts for 5% of the total water in the U.S., while 55%-56% of the water goes into feeding and raising cattle in factory farms. However, on environmental activism websites, such as Greenpeace, Sierra Club, and WWF, this issue is never addressed – why?
Andersen challenges these “environmental activist” organizations through conducting a series of interviews and interrogating them. Many representatives from these companies refuse to acknowledge the issue, either by trying to divert attention back to fossil fuels, or by declining to comment on the matter. Now, if it’s such a pressing issue that can be solved so simply, why do people refuse to do anything about it, let alone acknowledge it?
I can’t answer for individuals among society, but as far as larger corporations, it is out of fear. The meat and dairy industry in the United States is one of, if not the most, powerful industries; for years, they have been asserting their power by not only suing those who spoke against them, but actually murdering activists who were trying to bring awareness to the people.
I highly suggest checking out these facts on the Cowspiracy website and/or watching this documentary. As a lifelong vegetarian and vegan for now a year and a half, I have struggled (and still do struggle) with how to convey the importance of this diet and am constantly faced with backlash and people who simply blow it off by saying they don’t care about animals all that much. So, if you don’t care about helping the animals, don’t do it for the animals – do it for the earth that you live on.
Andersen, Kip, dir. Kuhn, Keegan, dir. Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret. A.U.M. Films & Media, 2014. Film.