What does this have to do with Environmental Justice?
There is and will continue to be disparate impact on certain communities and species as climate change advances. As one of the biggest drivers of climate change, animal agriculture is leading the destruction of habitats.
Climate change will affect all forms of life, but as we have learned in Environmental Justice, those who are least responsible for causing climate change "are also those most likely to suffer directly its early impacts like hurricanes, droughts, ﬂooding, heat waves, and sea level rise. Poor and disempowered groups bring fewer resources to prepare for, cope with, and recover from climate disasters" (Roberts). This is relevant not only to those in proximity to feedlots, but globally, as the U.S. and its major polluters continue to externalize risks and negative consequences. The immense greenhouse gas emissions from animal agriculture are a huge international climate injustice because of the rate at which this is heating the planet.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Heat the Planet
Animal agriculture is responsible for a significant portion of greenhouse gas emissions. This is not sustainable, nor is it equitable. The enormous methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide emissions from livestock and their byproducts are one of the leading causes of global climate change.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations calculated that animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than all transportation combined (FAO). Americans tend to focus on transportation as a powerful area for improvement in reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, but many fail to realize how much our agricultural current system contributes to emissions. Agricultural activities are the biggest source of methane emissions, and methane is between 25 and 100 times more destructive as a climate change force than carbon dioxide (Shindell et al., 2009). IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, calculates methane to have 86 times the global warming agency as CO2. This methane is mostly from cattle livestock. Livestock is also responsible for 65% of all nitrous oxide emissions; this greenhouse gas is 296 times more powerful in driving climate change than carbon dioxide (Steinfeld et al.). Feedlots are driving climate change through their emissions.