Ed. Note: We are happy to share this reader response, which is part of a series developed by environmental science students at Loyola University Chicago from the course Environmental Sustainability.
Deforestation, water pollution, non-vegetarian diets... OH MY! That’s right, the human impact on Earth is making the movie, The Wizard of Oz, look rated PG. Trust me when I say we are not in Kansas anymore. The world as we know it will not exist in 40 years if we do not see ourselves as part of nature. Millions of people are guilty of not taking the time in their busy schedules to realize the impact they have on the earth. The world needs to wake up and realize that we need to have a relationship with the Earth. The sad truth is that just knowing these gruesome facts and stories will not help us get far in saving the planet. The world we live in now is tailored for those seeking instant gratification, no matter the cost. We have negatively affected the Earth with terrible things like deforestation, deep sea drilling, and pollution. Our need for cheap oil and vast amounts of one-time use paper products has caused our world to suffer greatly. Without an interconnected relationship with our Earth, we have doomed it to be used and abused; rode hard and hung up wet. It all starts with carpooling instead of driving to work; eating a plant-based burger instead of a beef burger; even taking a shower instead of a bath. By understanding the amount of water consumption animals intake and how air pollution is already hurting us, you will have a deeper understanding of why we need to act now and have a relationship with the earth.
The article “Meat and the Environment,” by PETA made my jaw drop. The article talks about how much water usage farms use to feed animals and even paints a picture in your mind of how much water ONE cow can consume.1
It takes an enormous amount of water to grow crops for animals to eat, clean filthy factory farms, and give animals water to drink. A single cow used for milk can drink up to 50 gallons of water per day—or twice that amount in hot weather—and it takes 683 gallons of water to produce just 1 gallon of milk. It takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef while producing 1 pound of tofu only requires 244 gallons of water.
This is why I believe we need to lower the cost of healthy foods, vegetarian goods, and even plant-based meat and raise the cost of fast food and beef products. This will help the economy because fast food is an inelastic trend that the majority of Americans cannot give up. Let’s skip the small talk and get into the major air pollution that is destroying China and needs immediate solutions. “In China today, air pollution kills an estimated 1.1 million people a year. Tangshan is ranked as the country’s sixth most polluted city...Coal smoke from the region’s factories and power plants drifts toward Beijing, contributing to the capital’s infamous “airpocalypses.” This information is from National Geographic and it talks about the concerns of how the Coal factories are turning the sky grey, and many political officials are striving to reach clean blue air. But how did the people let it get to this? Finding solutions after toxic chemicals have entered the air and harmed human life is a reason why we need to not only be a part of nature but learn how to communicate as a worldwide team on ways corporations and businesses can be more eco-friendly. China and The United States of America can team up and learn from their mistakes on how to save each other because we share this Earth. Comprehending the fact that we need to create a relationship to be a part of Earth is just like college students getting to know their Professor. If you do not reach out and ask questions, you will find it much harder to succeed. In the same sense, if we do not reach out as citizens and help the world around us, we will find our circumstances in the coming years to be harder to contend with.
Let’s take a step back, remember when you were a child and you would take a step outside on a crisp fall morning and started to ride your bike around the block? Jumping in the crisp wet leaves, the smell of grass and burnt wood filled the air. There was almost no care in the world, now imagine in ten more years when children go outside to breathe in toxic chemicals, play outside on brown grass that has been destroyed from pollution and not receiving enough water. Why make that their life when you can start NOW and make the change? Having a relationship with nature will let us humans have consideration for the environment and treat ALL living things with respect and love. The earth will not only thank us now, but later when the oceans are clean, toxic chemicals are not in the air, and animals are not consuming the majority of our earth’s resources.
- “Meat and the Environment. PETA, 2017, www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/meat-environment/.