THE reshaping of agriculture is an imperative. landscapes that escape dependence on livestock and fishing CAN PROTECT WILDLIFE AND influence the Earth's climate in powerful ways.
The Bright Future of Conservation Agriculture
THE TWIN ENGINES OF RAINFOREST DESTRUCTION
SIGNED AND SEALED: AS FORESTS DISAPPEAR, THE DEVASTATING FATE OF THE ORANGUTAN
Winner of 35 International Film Awards
The Amazon rainforest plays an important part in keeping the world and its climate in balance. But deforestation and forest fires have put the rainforest at risk.
While the destruction of forests for palm oil production is growing at an alarming pace, and the cost to animals, the environment and our climate is high, the cattle sector in the Amazon is the single largest driver of global deforestation.
In Brazil 200 million cattle roam over 500 million acres, 90 percent of which is cleared rainforest. Every million acres of forest that is removed releases the same amount of carbon into the atmosphere as 40 million cars do in one year.
Below are the pastured herds, the largest in the world, that are helping shape an uncertain future for one of our planet's most valuable resources, and the world's most important carbon store. As cattlemen clear-cut intact forests, the home to millions of tropical birds and countless plants and animals is lost.
Produced and filmed by Patrick Rouxel/Distributed by Green Planet Films
Plant landscapes are new frontiers that are helping reshape the path of climate change and protecting environments where wildlife can flourish
What a lonely world it would be without the millions of tropical birds and countless animals living on every continent and in every ocean on Earth. Yet, at current rates of extinction, three out of four species that are common will vanish. Seventy percent of Earth's land animals live in forests, and in habitats that are in growing trouble.
The growth of modern agriculture throughout the world has had profound consequences. It is responsible for soaring deforestation and depleted landscapes, and it has become an important driver of greenhouse gas emissions. It is water-intensive, using nearly 70 percent of our fresh water supply. The cutting down of trees for agriculture also affects water cycles that have global consequences, including climate breakdowns that threaten the future of our planet.
Animal agriculture has brought us degraded forests, rivers and lakes, dying oceans caused by overfishing, the loss of treasured wildlife, and its most unique feature, the mass abuse of farm animals, on a scale and to a degree undreamed of in human history.
Current demands for animals and fish have become one of the most dominant influences on Earth in the 21st century.
BRIDGING THE CHASM BETWEEN WORDS AND DEEDS
Our food systems today on every continent have an extraordinary influence on our environment. Research by William Laurance of James Cook University, one of the world's most highly cited environmental scientists, shows that agriculture, including land cleared for grazing cattle, plantations of soy, canola, sugar cane and oil palm, is emerging as the number one driver of deforestation and threats to wildlife habitats. The meat, leather and milk industries have a greater impact on wildlife loss than palm oil.
The ability of agriculture to play a role in climate change and the well-being of wildlife is enormous
While modern agriculture is depleting our planet's natural resources and imperiling wildlife, forests and oceans in the most environmentally destructive century in history, important change can be brought through plant-based conservation agriculture — agriculture that builds effective carbon sinks, protects habitats for wildlife, and domesticates trees and plants on a large scale — a model that distinguishes between words and deeds and brings meaningful change.
When land is harmed by agriculture, the effects can be severe and far reaching.
Climate change: Animal agriculture accounts for significant human-caused greenhouse gases worldwide and occupies vast tracts of land on earth.
It is estimated that the farming of animals is responsible for 90% of the deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon. It is responsible for 100% of global fisheries collapse. It has taken less than 15 years for industrial agriculture to reduce the fish biomass by 80%.
Indefensible standards: Animal agriculture has an indefensible record of standards for farm animals. It habituates us to cruelty, with intense confinement and modifications in breeding for fast growth leaving animals suffering and in distress. With efforts to re-engineer farm animals to fit the needs of the 21st century and the lifting of moratoriums on the fusing of human-animal embryos as a way to grow human organs in animals for transplant, we have entered a startling new era in farm animal domestication that was considered unacceptable by scientists 15 years ago.
Forests cleared for livestock production are driving unprecedented extinctions. Studies reveal that global land-based wildlife has declined by 50% over the last 40 years. The number one issue for species extinction is severe habitat loss, with animals finding no place to live. Yet, the vast majority of extinctions is to come. Wildlife does not vanish immediately when forests disappear. By some estimates, 80% of the extinctions in the Amazon are still impending as ecosystems continue to fragment and collapse.
Unsustainable: Agriculture has stagnated under the same set of rules for the past 50 years with ideas that misuse human ingenuity. The future is a hopeful place, and we can do better. We need more appropriate and clear definitions of the word "sustainable," and along with the protection of farm animals, a broad new approach that protects wildlife and preserves our planet's natural resources — sustainability redefined.