The Harbinger Online

Environmental Awareness









One link. It only took one link to open my eyes. Last May, my friend suggested the film Cowspiracy 

to convince me to go vegan, meaning I couldn’t use or eat any animal products. I somewhat knew of the animal cruelty and health issues before I watched the film. However, I wasn’t expecting to have my eyes opened to the countless environmental issues that are caused by animal products. It made me realize that it was time for me to make a difference and go vegan.

Before I watched Cowspiracy, I had always thought fossil fuels were the biggest cause of global warming. Although carbon dioxide emissions from cars and factories are certainly not helping the planet, methane, which is a gas that comes off of animal waste, is the biggest threat.

In 2014 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s overview of greenhouse gases explains that methane makes up more than half of the gases in the ozone layer. Not only that, in 2009, Science magazine explained that methane has a global warming potential 20 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 20 year time period.

It’s clear there needs to be more of a focus on the impending issue: methane coming from the agricultural industry. When we eat less animal products, the demand on the animal industry is reduced and as a result produces less methane. In 2014 a U.N. press release explained that if methane emissions are reduced there would be an immediate effect towards stopping global warming.

Not only is the animal industry harming the ozone layer, it is also messing with our ocean. A recent National Geographic research study released that there will be a fishless ocean by 2048, due to the overfishing, unless fishing is reduced. The ocean going to shambles would obviously be catastrophic because the ocean plays a huge part in the health of the earth.

If the human race cares about future posterity, they need to open their eyes. According to a Worldwatch study, the ozone layer’s carbon dioxide limit will be exceeded by 2030 from the animal industry alone. That’s less than 14 years away, people. That means if there’s an effort made to reduce the consumption of animal products, there will not only be less methane in the ozone layer but also less carbon dioxide.

How had I been unaware of the animal industries power over the environment? Knowing how near the earth is to falling apart scares me. I never knew that animals were the biggest source of global warming. When talking about ways to save the environment, no one says; ‘eat less meat!,’ or ‘go vegan!’

Whether or not this will make a huge difference, I know that by eliminating animal products from my diet, I will save the earth more than than cutting down my shower times ever will. The Food, Science and Human Nutrition Dept. at Michigan State University, explained that on average one pound of beef takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce. Agreeing with the vegan theory of not harming animals, as well as the health benefits from going vegan, has also made it easier for me to make the switch.

While I have been able to make the change, I know that it isn’t going to happen for everyone. I constantly heard statements about needing animal products growing up. I would be pushed by my mom to stay healthy, or hear the countless ads regarding how I need dairy to grow properly. It was ingrained in my brain that I needed animal products to be healthy and I presume I’m not the only one who was taught that.

I understand that the general public probably doesn’t hear about the animal industry’s effect due to it being one of the most affluent industries in the U.S. Not only that, but it is way easier to tell people to cut back on their water usage than it is to tell them their way of eating is killing our environment.

We can all do our part. Whether that be cutting down your intake of animal products, spreading awareness or, if you are really bold, going full-fledge vegan. No matter what though, if our generation doesn’t start opening our eyes and making a difference in the amount of animal product usage, our earth will turn to waste.\

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Sean Overton

Sophomore Sean Overton is the online A&E, Homegrown and Opinion editor for the Harbinger. Read Full »

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