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Extensive research by Our World in Data shows us how the planet’s land is being used, and as one might expect, industrialized animal agriculture is inefficiently using the world’s land.

The following graphic outlines the breakdown of how global land area is used today:

Our World in Data

 

As the chart details, 71 percent of our land is considered habitable, and half of that land is used for agriculture. Of that 50 percent, 77 percent is used for livestock, either as land for grazing or land to grow animal feed. However, despite taking up such a giant percentage of agricultural land, meat and dairy only make up 17 percent of global caloric supply and 33 percent of global protein supply. As Our World in Data sums up, “In other words, the 11 million square kilometers used for crops supply more calories and protein for the global population than the almost four-times larger area used for livestock.”

These facts, though alarming, are not a surprise. Industrialized animal agriculture rules the world’s current food system and is responsible for widespread habitat destruction, including rainforests, harmful air and water pollution, the extinction of species (including those who have yet to even be scientifically identified by humans), and it contributes greatly to climate change, adding more harmful greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere than the entire transportation sector combined. And as this research has detailed, many crops are grown to feed livestock rather than feeding the world’s millions of starving people.

These factors have led innovators to seek alternatives and solutions to the problem of industrialized animal agriculture, a problem which will only intensify as our planet’s population continues to rise and is predicted to explode to 9.8 billion people by 2050. The lab-cultured, aka “clean meat” industry, which will hopefully lessen the effects of industrialized animal agriculture, has been making rapid progress in recent years and is expected to reach a value of $20 million by 2027.

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Lead Image Source: Pixabay 

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3 comments on “Chart Shows What the World’s Land Is Used For … and It Explains Exactly Why So Many People Are Going Hungry”

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Mackenzie
13 Days ago

This article is extremely problematic. It overlooks major contributing factors to hunger, like failure of social support programs. Poverty and hunger are attributed to so much more than how agricultural land is used, and your argument oversimplifies a very grave and complex problem for the sake of advancing your anti-animal ag agenda. More than enough food is produced but 40% of it is wasted. You\'re writing under the guise of caring about the hungry when the only goal is vilifying an industry.


Reply
Mat Thornton
10 May 2018

It is the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation\'s chart of land use. Your comment assumes that waste is the issue, meaning what we throw away. The article is showing you that more is wasted by feeding crops to animals. The amount of waste you mention is only exacerbated by the animal agriculture industry, which is both unnecessary and cruel to both people and animals.

The calorific amount of plant foods fed to animals to grow meat and dairy is is far in excess of the calorific amount, of animal product for consumption, it produces.

Roughly twenty-five times more energy is required to produce one calorie of beef than to produce one calorie of corn.

Chickens and pigs convert grain into meat at rates of two or three to one (ie, it takes 2kg of feed to produce 1kg of chicken). The ratio for lamb is between four and over six to one and that for beef starts at five to one and goes as high as 20 to one.

What is new are the amounts of greenhouse gases associated with the production of a kilo of protein by different animals. These vary even more widely: 3.7kg for chicken; 24kg for pork; and up to 1,000kg for cattle

Livestock damage the environment. They account for between 8% and 18% of greenhouse-gas emissions, depending on how you account for changes in land use (when the Amazon is cut down for pasture, carbon emissions rise). Roughly a fifth of all the world’s pasture has been degraded by overgrazing. Livestock uses water inefficiently: you need about 15,000 litres of water to produce a kilo of beef but only 1,250 litres for a kilo of maize or wheat.

Mat Thornton
10 May 2018

Sorry last paragraph should read

Livestock also damage the environment. They account for between 8% and 18% of greenhouse-gas emissions, depending on how you account for changes in land use (when the Amazon is cut down for pasture, carbon emissions rise). Roughly a fifth of all the world’s pasture has been degraded by overgrazing. Livestock uses water inefficiently: you need about 15,000 litres of water to produce a kilo of beef but only 1,250 litres for a kilo of maize or wheat.

Mat Thornton
10 May 2018

Ok so I\'m not aloud to use the percentage sign, I\'ll try again.

Livestock also damage the environment. They account for between 8 percent and 18 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions, depending on how you account for changes in land use (when the Amazon is cut down for pasture, carbon emissions rise). Roughly a fifth of all the world’s pasture has been degraded by overgrazing. Livestock uses water inefficiently: you need about 15,000 litres of water to produce a kilo of beef but only 1,250 litres for a kilo of maize or wheat.



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