How Factory Farming Is Driving the Sixth Mass Extinction (Video)
According to University of Texas at Austin professor Raj Patel, an expert in ecology and food systems, our demand for meat is driving the sixth mass extinction. Patel is one of many leading academics who contemplate declaring a new age on Earth, called the Anthropocene, since “the fossils of soon-to-be extinct animals will form a line in the rocks of the future.”
In an interview with the Independent, he said, “We’re losing species we have never heard of, those we’ve yet to put a name to and industrial agriculture is very much at the spear-tip of that.”
Similarly, in 2016 the World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London published a report asserting that animal agriculture is causing a mass extinction. The report concluded that animal populations declined by 58 percent between 1970 and 2012, and losses are expected to reach 67 percent by 2020.
Forests that are home to endangered animals like the Sumatran elephant are being cleared to grow feed crops for cows, pigs and chickens at factory farms. Fish like anchovies and sardines are being caught in alarming quantities to be made into feed for farmed salmon, pigs and chickens. This means that penguins and other animals who naturally feed on these fish now face a grave situation.
Animal agriculture, including land for grazing and growing feed crops, now uses more than one-third of Earth’s landmass. What’s more, the World Bank reports that animal agriculture is culpable for nearly 91 percent of Amazon rainforest destruction.
To make matters worse, animals raised for food produce 7 million pounds of excrement every minute. This waste often pollutes waterways and nearby ecosystems, killing wildlife and destroying habitats. One case in point is the recently announced dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, which is the largest ever recorded.
Furthermore, animal agriculture produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars, planes, and other forms of transportation combined, exacerbating the perilous effects of climate change.
But not only does animal agriculture devastate wildlife and the environment; it causes immense suffering to billions of farmed animals.
Pigs, cows and chickens at factory farms live tortured lives. They suffer unspeakable cruelties, such as extreme confinement, barbaric mutilations and horrific deaths.