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Consequences of Global Warming



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Consequences of Global Warming

  • Increased allergies/asthma/anaphylaxis
    • Rising temperatures increase smog/ground level ozone
    • Ozone stunts plant growth (although planting trees can help remove ozone from the environment
    • Higher levels of CO2 favor growth of ragweed and other pollen-producing plants

Global Warming

  • The top 1/5 of the world’s largest 145 countries account for 63% of global C02 emissions (lowest 1/5 = 2%)
      • US = 23 tons/person/yr greenhouse gas emissions (global average = 5.4 tons/person/yr)
  • The countries likely to be most affected by global warming are those least responsible for the increases in global temperature

Global Warming

  • Climate refugees
    • Kiribati to disappear by 2050
      • President has bought land in Fiji for ultimate relocation of entire population
    • Disappearing locales: Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Kivalina (Alaska), Male (Maldives)

Global Warming Increases Droughts

Global Warming

  • UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: irreversible
  • WHO: the greatest threat to human health this century
  • Pentagon: an immediate threat to national security

Agriculture

  • Global per capita cropland down over 50% from 1961 to 0.6% acre
  • Soil erosion exceeds soil formation
    • 60- to 100-fold increase over last century due to intensification of farming
    • In the past 40 years, 1/3 of U.S. topsoil has eroded
    • Takes 1,000 years to “grow” 1 inch of soil

Agriculture

  • Livestock responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector
    • Methane, CO2, and NO
    • Grass-fed cattle healthier, produce less methane, contain less saturated fat/higher levels of beneficial fatty acides and antioxidants/fewer antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Agriculture

  • Water use has tripled since 1950, up 6-fold over 20th Century

Large scale irrigation/power projects

  • China’s Three Gorges Dam
    • World’s largest power station (second largest generator after Itaipu Dam on border of Brazil and Paraguay)
    • $59 billion project
    • Displacing 1.5 million people
    • Loss of valuable archeological sites

China’s Three Gorges Dam

Dams

  • 85,000 in U.S. (45,000 major dams – 15 m or higher) worldwide
  • ½ no longer serve their intended purposes
  • Removal ongoing (over 1,000 so far)

Food Waste

  • Each year, 2.9 trillion lbs of food (1/3 of world production) is not consumed
    • $750 billion loss

Food Waste

  • In the U.S., 53% is not consumed:
    • 20% lost during picking and sorting
    • 3% lost during storage and shipping
    • 2% lost during juice production, canning, or baking
    • 9% discarded at wholesalers and supermarkets
    • 19% uneaten and discarded in homes

Wasted Food

  • Household food waste adds up to $43 billion/yr in the U.S.
    • 40% of all food produced in U.S. wasted
  • An average American family of four tosses out $590/yr food
  • Americans discarded 3 times as much food in 2005 as in 1985
    • 96 billion lbs/yr in America (2009)

Decreasing crop diversity

  • 30,000 - 75,000 plant species are edible
  • Humans have utilized 7000 plant species for food
  • Rice, wheat, and maize provide 2/3 of the world’s food supply
  • 20% of species provide 80% of the world’s food supply
  • Consequences: decreasing genetic diversity, vulnerability to disease, huge crop losses (e.g., Irish potato famine)

Factory Farming

  • Factory farms have replaced industrial factories as the # 1 polluters of American waterways
  • 1.4 billion tons animal waste generated/yr
    • 130 x human waste
    • 1 hog farm in NC generates as much sewage annualy as all of Manhattan

Factory Farming

Factory Farming

Factory Farm Waste

  • Most untreated
  • Ferments in open pools
  • Seeps into local water supply, estuaries
    • Kills fish
    • Causes human infections - e.g., Pfisteria pescii, Chesapeake Bay
  • Creates unbearable stench
  • Widely disseminated by floods/hurricanes

Agricultural Antibiotic Use

  • Agriculture accounts for 80% of U.S. antibiotic use
    • Use up 50% over the last 15 years

Antibiotic Resistant Pathogens

  • CDC: “Antibiotic use in food animals is the dominant source of antibiotic resistance among food-borne pathogens.”
  • $4billion/yr to treat antibiotic-resistant infections in humans
    • Campylobacter fluoroquinolone resistance
    • VREF (poss. due to avoparcin use in chickens)
  • Antibiotics among the most counterfeited medicines worldwide

Alternatives to Agricultural Antibiotic Use

  • Decrease overcrowding
  • Better diet/sanitation/living conditions
  • Control heat stress
  • Vaccination
  • Increased use of bacterial cultures and specific antibiotic treatment in animals when indicated

Ending Agricultural Antibiotic Use

  • EU bans use of all antibiotic growth promoters effective 1/1/06
  • Three years after a Danish ban on routine use of antibiotics in chicken farming, the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in chickens dropped from 82% to 12%
  • US Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, 2007 – awaiting vote


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