How do cows contribute to the destabilization of Earth's atmosphere and climate?

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Raising cattle and using their byproducts has a negative effect on climate in several ways. In many parts of the world, people consume a substantial amount of beef, relying on it as a major source of protein. Increasingly, a high percentage of the beef is commercially processed for restaurants and, especially, fast food chains. Cattle are also raised for the dairy industry.

Cows contribute to the greenhouse effect. Ruminants, including cows, process food in a way that emits gas. A cow may release 100 kilograms of methane annually, which contributes substantially to atmospheric carbon dioxide( CO2). Huge amounts of land must be allocated to growing fodder for cattle, and the companies that use the most beef are constantly seeking to reduce their costs. This prompts them to seek cheaper land on which to grow the fodder. In addition, the monocropping of alfalfa and other plants to feed cattle is usually accomplished with the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. The search for cheap land has taken multinational companies overseas, where they support harmful practices such as clearcutting forests, reducing the size of the canpoy, in order to turn the land into farmland, yielding millions of tons of CO2. In part because there are more cows than cars, cattle can be considered more environmentally unfriendly.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on November 28, 2019
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