HOME          CATEGORIES          OUR TAKE

Save Our Waterways, Eat Less Meat

Believe it or not, eating meat, especially beef, dramatically drains our water resources.

Here’s how it works.

You eat a quarter-pounder made with meat from a cow whose main diet is munching on crops such as corn, soy, wheat and oats. Those crops need irrigation from a water resource. We’re talking a lot of water. In the end, to produce one whole pound of beef takes 1800 gallons of water, or 450 gallons for a quarter-pound hamburger.

The overuse of water resources by the agriculture industry is addressed in a recent Guardian article “US Rivers and Lakes are Shrinking for a Surprising Reason: Cows.”

Author Troy Farah tells us cattle-feed crops ending up as beef and dairy products “account for 23% of water consumption in the US.” Farah cited a recent study published in Nature finding cattle as a major driver of water shortages. A prime example is the Colorado River and its tributaries used by local ranchers raising cattle and which also happen to be drinking water by local municipalities. In the last 20 years, the warmer climate has seen record breaking droughts causing the Colorado River to shrink by 20%. Similarly, drought conditions plus watering feed for cows are drying up rivers across the country.

The Observer Research Foundation, an India-based group, says “meat production has quadrupled in the last 50 years;  today the world produces more than 320 million tons of meat every year. There has been a particularly marked increase in the worldwide consumption of chicken and pork.”

So maybe we should eat less beef? How about less meat in general?

https://medium.com/@SwissBioFarmer/1-kg-of-beef-takes-100000-liters-of-water-no-it-does-not-7a391398069d

Watercalculator.org says data shows Americans eating less beef and more pork and chicken since 1970 — a year when one person consumed about 85 pounds of beef. That has dropped down to 57 pounds.

We can cut down on the meat we eat without giving it up entirely. More and more Americans are choosing meatless products such as plant-based alternatives. According to Discover Magazine “March sales of meat alternatives jumped another 264 percent — not only due to popularity, but an increase in distribution as well.”

Consuming less beef and dairy means fewer cows need to be fed from irrigated crops. According to the Center for Sustainable Systems, a meatless Beyond Burger generates 90% fewer greenhouse gas emissions and has practically no impact on water scarcity.

Climate change induced heat and dry spells has for too long threatened the disappearance of our waterways. If we can lessen the drain on those waterways by limited the use to irrigate cattle feed, perhaps our rivers and tributaries won’t ever dry up

Comment on this article

ClimateYou moderates comments to facilitate an informed, substantive, civil conversation. Abusive, profane, self-promotional, misleading, incoherent or off-topic comments will be rejected. Moderators are staffed during regular business hours (New York time) and can only accept comments written in English.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE


More Posts Like This

CITY TECH BLOG

How We Help to Slow, Stop or Solve Climate Change by a City Tech Blogger

If everyone could stop in a minute to acknowledge the harms we are causing on our planet, what would earth look like in the next 10 years or is it too late?  To quote George Bernard Shaw: “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their

CITY TECH BLOG

How Does My Academic Major Relate to Climate Change? By City Tech Blogger Hilal Din

Climate change can be very detrimental on a global scale, considering the fact that humans are susceptible and vulnerable when it comes to climate change and the outcomes associated. As problem solvers, scholars, and engineers (Construction Engineering) we can help incorporate proper measures to help reduce the overall

Take action in the fight against climate change