Has climate change caused “Peak Livestock”?
The world needs to prepare for the raising of 70% more livestock by 2050, according to FAO livestock specialists. That projection presumes that it’s possible for the livestock sector to continue expanding. But the authors of that projection were livestock specialists, not environmental specialists, and the FAO is just one of nineteen UN specialized agencies.
In contrast, Bill Gates has written an article prescribing the replacement of livestock products with better alternatives, citing analysis by environmental specialists employed by two other UN specialized agencies (the World Bank and IFC).*
One of those environmental specialists has written a critique of the FAO’s partnership with global livestock industry associations published by The New York Times. He also co-founded the website Chomping Climate Change – where it’s said that replacing livestock products with better alternatives may be the only pragmatic strategy to reverse climate change before it’s too late. And if livestock are not replaced with better alternatives voluntarily, then climate change is likely to force it.
It is said that energy specialists may aim for continued expansion of the energy sector until Peak Oil is reached, when demand for oil can no longer be met because of a terminal decline in production. Similarly, livestock specialists may continue to aim for expansion of the livestock sector until “Peak Livestock” is reached.
In fact, the production of oil takes place underwater and underground, so it is relatively unaffected by climate change. Conversely, the production of livestock and crops to feed them takes place aboveground and largely outdoors – where agriculture is more exposed to the impacts of climate change than any other industry.
Until recently, evidence was slim that climate change was causing dire hardship and large-scale die-offs in the raising of livestock and crops that feed them. However, there has recently been a noticeable spike in such hardships and die-offs all over the world.
This has made it seem all the more obvious that there is a business case for replacing livestock products with better alternatives – and this, along with reforestation, may be the only pragmatic case for reversing climate change before it’s too late.
Below is a sample of reports from just the past few months providing evidence of a spike in dire hardship and large-scale die-offs in the raising of livestock and crops that feed them (n.b., these reports and more are posted on our Facebook page).
Sample of recent reports of dire hardship and large-scale die-offs in the raising of livestock and crops that feed them
Missouri, U.S.A. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3UyJOYbE30
Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia https://globalvoices.org/2015/08/28/8-ways-climate-change-is-already-affecting-africa
* Those environmental specialists are Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang, and their analysis can be seen on the website of the Worldwatch Institute.