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Eat as the world depends on it. Many of us understand the cruelty of animal farming and the use of antibiotics but just a few of us may see the catastrophic impact on our planet. Wildlife is losing habitat, forest is destroyed by livestock, huge areas are ruined from growing crops to feed the billions of incarcerated farm animals that result in loss of biodiversity, a huge amount of fossil fuels is burned to take the crops to animals, animals to slaughter, and the methane gas that is produced during digestion contribute to greenhouse gasses.
On top of that nutrients from animal waste is discharged into our surface and groundwater that dramatically pollute our drinking water. The residual nutrients like nitrogen can encourage algae blooms that consume oxygen levels when they decompose and this causes to suffocate fish and result in dead zones that decline the quality of water. In the state I live in, Illinois was ranked 15th highest in animal waste.
In 1997, Illinois wasted 19 000 000 tons of animal waste compared to the highest-ranked state Texas which was 110 000 000 tons of animal waste and the lowest-ranked state is Alaska with 40 000 tons (TPIS, 2011).
Hundred thousand gallons of animal waste produced three thousand and six hundred pig impressment that reduce the quality of local people’s lives by the odor that comes from the facilities. Additionally, animal waste is discharged into local waters as a consequence four hundred ninety thousand fish were eliminated within sixty-seven miles of rivers during a ten years time frame(Jakcson, 2016).
Next case, more than a thousand and eight hundred pounds of nitrogen a day was released by pork processing plants owned by JBS into the river of Illinois state. This amount of nitrogen would be equal to seventy-nine thousand people of the city sewage. Between 2016 and 2018, at least once during this period of time seventy-four facilities out of ninety-eight exceed their allowed restrictions for contaminants, for example, nitrogen and fecal bacteria. Even though the JBS facility did not violate their permits during these two years, Tyson Fresh Meats beef operation disrupted three times in Joslin, IL. As a consequence, in 2017 this operation was rated as the seventh biggest nitrogen polluter. It is rare that farms who have violated their permits are enforced and punished for example The federal Clean Water Act lets these operations pollute more than are permitted. Only ten out of eighteen or more slaughterhouses paid some penalties who violated more than a hundred days of negligence between 2016 to 2018 that were analyzed by the Environmental Integrity Project(Durbin, 2018). The local properties lose value, quality of life and enjoyment of being outside. Some people complained that they cannot be outside for longer than ten minutes or they get headaches, feel nauseous and occasionally throw up. The public advocate that the local agriculturists negatively affect their living conditions. The Illinois regulations strongly restrict the community’s position to confront consenting conclusions by the Illinois Agriculture Department. Almost all the cases were dismissed. Local residents expressed that nobody was interested in listening to them what they have to say. While the public trying to be heard, the local facilities keep extending. The local neighbors learned about numerous loopholes in state laws. For instance, the government of Illinois is not aware of the number of animals are placed in the area. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, they are preserving farmer operators seclusion. In conflict, other states made their information accessible to the public.
‘If we look at this from a farmer’s perspective if laws changed to be stricter of operation’s practices he said ‘We can raise these pigs the old-fashioned way and increase the cost, but we have to compete with the other proteins out there as best we can,’ he said. ‘We’ve got to produce a lot of pork to make it as cheap a protein as we can.’ The low cost of the nationally pork production is controlled by the country’s biggest supplier that is located in Illinois. In past years $1.5 billion in pork sales was made. The Illinois Department of Agriculture, support animal manufacture and regulates farmer’s practices and as a result disregard resistant of neighborhood citizens reaction to animal management. Despite Illinois government stated it is in their best interest to protect their citizens and surroundings, citizens felt ignored that the authority does not care for their needs or the environment the farms put them in. One facility ended up paying penalty sixty-five thousand dollars for the odors and the dead fish. Even though the “Illinois Livestock Management Facilities Act” have regulations that farmers need to follow to be good neighbor, local don’t think it is enough ( Jackson, 2016). These operations need to submit their reports of their pork waste to confirm they are meeting federal laws, use the finest technology to prevent any harm to local communities. EPA had to increase its monitoring on this operation and others that show proof of irresponsible high contamination that is very harmful to the environment and strong penalties need to be enforced in case of disagreement. These standards are strengthening with each of these cases to protect our waterways for recreational and drinking purposes to maintain the health of our communities in Illinois (Durbin, 2018).
In the ideal world, the sustainable solution to my environmental problem of animal waste that causes water pollution would be a change of diet and decreasing meat consumption. Yet reports show that meat production positively controls the food economy of the world. It was suggested that if there would be more education about meat consumption and its negative effects on our environment, the population may be motivated to reduce meat intake. The sustainable solution to my selected environmental issues become progressively challenging to manage because many distinct practices need to be applied (Tal, 2018). One may think, there is one universal sustainable solution for manure management such as BMPs “Best Management Practice” for Animal Waste Management systems suggested a six-phase process that should create a sustainable solution to this serious issue (Hawkins et al., 2016). Other studies suggested that it is important to assure that the sustainability of food production relies on many factors such as farming methods need to be distinct to land properties, geography, and other associated factors that could be very unique to specific food production systems (Tal, 2018).
The Best Management Practice for “Animal Waste Systems” would be a great start for managing animal manure sustainably. These steps starting with manure creation, discharge, storage, transit, application to crops should help with the nutrient reduction or improve recoverability. This process could be applied to any food production facilities and then further customize based on other factors that need to be considered locally and also globally (Hawkins et al., 2016). Environmental defense fund also works towards strengthening factory farms environmental standards that provide important guidance to prevent and protect water quality (EDF, 2018).
These approaches are sustainable because farm owners have guidelines that can be adjusted to their specific producing routine and reduce animal waste causes water pollution.
In 1972 the Clean Water Act has been passed because of multiple alarming water pollution events such as using six hundred million pounds of pesticides a year. The Cuyahoga River and the fire incident and Earth Day establish the importance of clean water. On December 2, 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency was formed based on these important occurrences that would create laws and regulations to prevent and protect our water quality. The Best Management Practice is included in various parts of the Clean Water Act (University B.O, 2018) In Illinois we have an Animal Waste Management system called the “Livestock Management Facilities Act” that was established to deliver a safe and clean environment to keep farmworkers and local citizens healthy. This act embraced in 1996. Some of the recommended solutions would be application conservation tillage, planting field buffers, controlling animal manure into the stream and more (Illinois Department, 2019). From one of my peer-reviewed studies, the Expert Panel Group established the Animal Waste Management Systems in 2014 of six steps called Phase 6.0. This just tells us that each state may have its own system or program established to their specific needs of controlling animal manure (Hawkins et al., 2018).
The cost of manure control will differ depending on running systems, waste volume, the distance between field and storage, the size of the facility, type of equipment, and equipment share. reduction of CO2 is parallel with the reduction of cost. It can be established by enlarged space and diminish transportation length (Hadin at el., 2017). Also, there are many projects like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program that provides technical and financial help to execute conservation routines. The amount of money that is offered by this program depends on how much money it takes to adopt the conservation processes. For example, Animal feeding Organizations can obtain funding for manure control systems (EQIP, 2019). The money usually comes from donations, government, investors, companies and mainly us, citizens.
The advantages of this solution for the locals would be better quality life by the cleaner environment, lessen odor, atmospheric emissions, no more manure runoff in ground and surface waters. Overall healthier and better quality of life for our citizens and local wildlife.
A disadvantage of this solution could be increased state taxes to be able to fund the Animal Waste Management systems to reduce animal manure. Also, some of the farms may have to increase the price of their food products to be able to adopt all the conservation practices.
The possible environmental consequences of not executing a solution to diminish the environmental issue of animal waste are caused mainly by dense livestock farms that generate roughly one billion tons of urine and feces every year and it is discharged into “lagoons “ and then terminate into surface water and air. Illegitimate animal manure handling results in consequential water pollution and public health problems. The animal manure contains certain bacteria and nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen. An excessive amount of these nutrients create optimal circumstances for an algae bloom that affect dead zone. It is deadly to aquatic life, lessen the water quality, leach toxins that are dangerous to human health, and harm wildlife. These nutrients, especially nitrogen, can be converted with the help of oxygen into ammonia and create potential greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.
As for my habits, I have been adding to this environmental issue a lot since I do weightlifting. Many sports companies create such importance on eating a lot of animal products to get stronger. Of course, that was my goal to get stronger despite understanding that with my eating habits I support animal cruelty, adding so much pollution to our waters, air, soil, and increasing climate change. I have been vegan for two years in the past. It did not work out because I was also overtraining. I was constantly sore and I blamed it on the vegan diet instead of excessive hours of weightlifting and cardio. Now I know it was me overtraining than not having adequate nutrition. Since I started this class I was slowly reducing meat consumption. I am in a transition of becoming vegan. I am like 95% there. I am just taking time to adjust properly and make sure I eat enough macronutrients and overall calories. When people see my food choices they are usually curious and they start asking questions. I am not talking about my new lifestyle unless somebody asks me about it. It is a way of sharing information, educating and hopefully inspiring. Learning more about animal farms, there is more into it than animal cruelty. It gives me more reasons to go vegan. “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use, and water use,’ Joseph Poore at the University of Oxford, UK, who led the research.“It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car,” he said, as these only reduce greenhouse gas emissions (Carrington, 2018).
If I go to a store or restaurant and I am choosing a vegan option. It is my way of making the promotion of saving animals, environment and reducing the overall footprint on our planet. One of the reasons I chose this field is to give a voice to animals who do not have one. I cannot live with myself to harm others and our planet that is called our home, because of my lifestyle choices. This vegan lifestyle also helps with zero-waste. It goes hand to hand. Therefore, this way of reducing my footprint may be the most effective one.
I used to say I am ok with whatever people do as long they don’t harm others and I still stand behind it. People just don’t see that animals are equal to us. We are part of one big group called an ecosystem.
We all rely on each other. Each living organism has a purpose on this planet. If we won’t respect that the natural flow it could have catastrophic consequences. It is our responsibility to maintain the biodiversity of the ecosystem by sustainable living to reduce our overall footprint on this planet.
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