Beef demand causing deforestation in the Amazon and climate change

By: Bree Williams and Sierra Adams | Writers

September 6, 2019

With about 1.5 billion cows throughout the world, the beef demand is gradually accelerating the Amazon’s deforestation and climate change. Yet, cattle ranchers are choosing to expand their herds and burn large portions of the Amazon rainforest in order to create room for pastures.

 According to Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, cattle ranching is the largest driver of deforestation in every Amazon country, accounting for 80% of the current deforestation rates. About 450,000 square kilometers of deforestation in the Amazon has been accredited to the use of cattle pastures. There are many concerns about deforestation in the Amazon because it is the world’s most valuable oxygen supplier. 

Nathalie Walker, director of the Tropical Forest and Agriculture Program at the National Wildlife Federation, said “About 80% of Brazil’s beef is consumed domestically.”  However, the global market is what we should be most concerned about.

Asia’s beef demand is growing at its fastest rate ever due to the extreme pasture expansions. According to the Brazilian Beef Exporters Association, beef exports have increased by 25% to 1.5 million tons between the years 2010 to 2017. 

The loss of forest will affect the climate globally. Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) said, “The amazon plays a central role in storing carbon… [the forest’s are] basically like a giant air conditioner,” which means that it is crucial that the forests stay dense and full in order to sustain the planet with a steady temperature. When things start to overheat, that messes with the entire food chain and system of life. Something to think about before taking a bite of your burger which resulted in the death of countless trees, and several degrees of precious, cool air. 

“With fewer trees,” PBS reporter Coe says, “Less water actually goes back into the atmosphere after rainfall, which in turn leads to… more frequent droughts.” If deforestation continues at its current rate, the entire ecosystem will fall apart due to rapidly increased temperature, limited ability to breath, and extreme drought. If people want to start caring about the planet, now is the time to do it. The world’s most important air filter and cooler is burning to ashes in order to provide some extra money to the meat industries.

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