• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
Feel the intensity, not your equipment. Maximum image quality. Minimum weight. The new ZEISS SFL, up to 30% less weight than comparable competitors.

Human carnivory as a major driver of vertebrate extinction (1 Viewer)

katastrofa

Registered User
Supporter
Norway

Abstract:

Although a considerable part of the anthropogenic impacts on other species has been caused by our habit of eating other animals, little attention has been given to understanding and quantifying how human carnivory threatens biodiversity globally. Herein we review the anthropogenic threats to 1000 species randomly selected among more than 46,000 vertebrate entries in the IUCN Red List database. We identified the following mechanisms by which human carnivory (i.e., our habit of feeding on other animals and related products) negatively affects the world's vertebrates: two mechanisms related to predation (predation and bycatch), two to competition (prey depletion and persecution), one to biohazards (any negative impacts caused by livestock or alien species whose introduction is linked to human carnivory), four to environmental changes (destructive harvesting practices, livestock, agriculture, and climate change), and a miscellaneous category for processes more indirectly connected with our high trophic position. Our conservative estimate, which does not include livestock impacts via agriculture and climate change, reveals that about one-quarter of the world's vertebrates are threatened by at least one mechanism related to human carnivory, and that this proportion is higher than that attributable to other leading causes of biodiversity decline including agriculture, forestry, infrastructure, pollution, invasive species, energy production and mining, fire regime and water systems modifications, and climate change. Our results suggest that human carnivory is the major driver of the current biodiversity crisis, and we hope our findings may contribute to raise awareness about this fundamental yet overlooked aspect of human ecology.
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
Yeah, more vegan propaganda. It is still the case that a meadow full of cows = biodiversity and a field full of carrots doesn't and can't if you want a useful yield.

If you want to talk about human population, fine, too many humans is the real threat and within the human species the insistent whine of "I want to be a grandparent" is death to the wild world, but agricultural monoculture is a greater threat to biodiversity than meat-eating will ever be.

John
 

Ted Y.

Well-known member
Canada
Post #1

Interesting subject.

I accept the word "connected" but I am suspicious about "threatens".

Just hopping is not another article wanting to shame us for being humans and part of the nature.
 
Last edited:

dantheman

Bah humbug
Yeah, more vegan propaganda. It is still the case that a meadow full of cows = biodiversity and a field full of carrots doesn't and can't if you want a useful yield.

If you want to talk about human population, fine, too many humans is the real threat and within the human species the insistent whine of "I want to be a grandparent" is death to the wild world, but agricultural monoculture is a greater threat to biodiversity than meat-eating will ever be.

John
That's a very simplistic, superficial response to the problem ... ;)

Proper varied organic/wildlife friendly farming is quite different to monocultures of grass/crops grown to support meat production, not even delving into other ecological issues (eg pollution, land use).


The issues are complex though.


(We are probably agreed that the carrying capacity of the planet way exceeded over the top though!)
 

jurek

Well-known member
To be balanced, the article should be coupled with another 'human herbivory as a major driver of vertebrate extinction' which would cover cost of clearing habitat for crops, groundwater extraction, herbicides and pesticides, cost of energy and resources of building and operating farm machinery and transporting food etc.

Vegetarian proselitism is usually unaware that especially plant replacement of vitamins and nutrients in meat: almonds, nuts, yeast etc. have extremely low productivity and high environmental cost. The often advertised high productivity of plant-based food concerns starch-based grains, potatoes etc., which are the basis of both normal and vegetarian diets and cannot nurture a human by itself.
 
Last edited:

jurek

Well-known member
Following what Fanboro John has written:

Another article would be handy: 'the biodiversity cost of hypothetical replacing meat with plant-based foods'.

If it would realize that much land used for raising livestock is poorly suitable for farming crops, and that grazed land sustains more wildlife than crops, the conclusion would be that vegetarians can kill the planet.
 

THE_FERN

Well-known member
To be balanced, the article should be coupled with another 'human herbivory as a major driver of vertebrate extinction' which would cover cost of clearing habitat for crops, groundwater extraction, herbicides and pesticides, cost of energy and resources of building and operating farm machinery and transporting food etc.

Vegetarian proselitism is usually unaware that especially plant replacement of vitamins and nutrients in meat: almonds, nuts, yeast etc. have extremely low productivity and high environmental cost. The often advertised high productivity of plant-based food concerns starch-based grains, potatoes etc., which are the basis of both normal and vegetarian diets and cannot nurture a human by itself.
Have to say this sounds completely wrong to me. Under most conditions plants far out-produce animals (as you'd expect from simple consideration of the biochemistry). You also completely ignore legumes which are major parts of most diets.

This gives tables (I make no claims about accuracy):

https://www.google.com/url?q=https:...gQFnoECAIQBg&usg=AOvVaw0FJlh2o5PFeDRy60E20RH3

Of course there are places which are unsuited to large scale plant production but they're fewer than you'd imagine. Mostly it's tradition or lack of knowledge which limits the possibilities.

There is no doubt that modern agriculture of any kind is destroying biodiversity. It makes up the biggest land use in most places
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
Have to say this sounds completely wrong to me. Under most conditions plants far out-produce animals (as you'd expect from simple consideration of the biochemistry). You also completely ignore legumes which are major parts of most diets.

This gives tables (I make no claims about accuracy):

https://www.google.com/url?q=https:...gQFnoECAIQBg&usg=AOvVaw0FJlh2o5PFeDRy60E20RH3

Of course there are places which are unsuited to large scale plant production but they're fewer than you'd imagine. Mostly it's tradition or lack of knowledge which limits the possibilities.

There is no doubt that modern agriculture of any kind is destroying biodiversity. It makes up the biggest land use in most places.

Still the case that farming meat in the open gives biodiversity and farming vast acres of vegetable monoculture absolutely depends on destroying it.

Finger on the nub of the problem though: too many people. Keep it zipped and tell your mother to shut up about grandchildren. Go birding instead.

John
 

Cettia

Well-known member
United States

Cettia

Well-known member
United States
Probably because it is!

Important also not to forget the vast quantities of plants that are grown simply to feed animals. 80% of the global soya crop, for instance.
We are, as humans, happy to forget what we want...

I am sure some people here have ever heard of Silent spring (maybe a few ever read it). I barely remember it. Was it because of the massive problems to the environment generated by products used in agriculture or am I wrong and it was due cattle ranching?.
Anything human related is about competition. You raise caws, you will exclude/kill your competitors (or try to). That is, large carnivores (and of course, smallish critters like harmful bacteria, parasites etc). You raise tomatoes, your competitors will start at "arthropod level". So, the starting point of human "intervention in nature" is from a much lower tropic level in the ecosystem when commercially growing crops. By excluding herbivores and omnivores, the impact translates to carnivores, and while trying to kill some insects, you may be putting at serious risk of extinction bald eagles, peregrine falcons etc...
 

Sangahyando

Well-known member
Germany
Our results suggest that human carnivory is the major driver of the current biodiversity crisis, and we hope our findings may contribute to raise awareness about this fundamental yet overlooked aspect of human ecology.
That sounds like a very bold claim. Any other data to back that up?
 

dantheman

Bah humbug
That sounds like a very bold claim. Any other data to back that up?
As it says, in the abstract -

"Our results suggest that human carnivory is the major driver of the current biodiversity crisis, and we hope our findings may contribute to raise awareness about this fundamental yet overlooked aspect of human ecology."

There may be other, but they are saying it hasn't been looked into much. (There are some in the references)

If you think about it, 7 billion humans living on a single planet, eating the other inhabitants or changing the environment to suit the production of crop animals for consumption over a wide range of cultures and differing environments is going to have a major, major impact ...

(They say their figure of c25% vulnerable species being impacted is conservative for a number of reasons)
 

Richard D

what was that...
Supporter
United Kingdom
Still the case that farming meat in the open gives biodiversity and farming vast acres of vegetable monoculture absolutely depends on destroying it.

Finger on the nub of the problem though: too many people. Keep it zipped and tell your mother to shut up about grandchildren. Go birding instead.

John
If the majority of meat production was done through grazing it would be much more beneficial for the environment, or at least less damaging, unfortunately he majority of meat production, in the Western world at least, is through growing vast areas of vegetable monoculture then feeding it to animals, which is a highly inefficient method of protein production.

Take beef consumption in the US - approximately 21% of world beef consumption, only 4% of beef consumed in the US is grass reared, most is fed with soy/grain. The amount of land given to beef feed production is huge. Yes UK beef production is mainly grass reared with just winter top up feeds, but the whole of Europe only makes up around 13-14% of world beef consumption.
 

dantheman

Bah humbug
Googling comes up with more, eg -


 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
If the majority of meat production was done through grazing it would be much more beneficial for the environment, or at least less damaging, unfortunately he majority of meat production, in the Western world at least, is through growing vast areas of vegetable monoculture then feeding it to animals, which is a highly inefficient method of protein production.

Take beef consumption in the US - approximately 21% of world beef consumption, only 4% of beef consumed in the US is grass reared, most is fed with soy/grain. The amount of land given to beef feed production is huge. Yes UK beef production is mainly grass reared with just winter top up feeds, but the whole of Europe only makes up around 13-14% of world beef consumption.
However in terms of food miles/pound, just like refining oil or metal ores before transport, its better to convert veg to meat before sending it to market - though of course if you grow the feed elsewhere it's not so clever.

However, thank you for pointing out that British meat eaters like me who preferentially choose British beef (I'll even avoid the Irish that is in the shop whenever possible tbh) are in fact better for the environment than any fastidious vegan.

So if the whole of Europe accounts for 14% and the US only another 21%, who's eating the remaining 65%? Seems to me it doesn't leave much of the Western world as I understand the term.

John
 

DMW

Well-known member
The discussion here is focusing on consumption of meat from domestic animals, which is obviously quite a complex issue, but let's not forget the fact that a lot of wild species are under direct threat of extinction from hunting and trapping for human consumption.
 

THE_FERN

Well-known member
Still the case that farming meat in the open gives biodiversity and farming vast acres of vegetable monoculture absolutely depends on destroying it.

Finger on the nub of the problem though: too many people. Keep it zipped and tell your mother to shut up about grandchildren. Go birding instead.

John
vast acres of vegetable monoculture
Yes. So don't farm vast acres of vegetable monoculture !

...It's more than possible to have more diverse plantings—tends to be what most farmers around the world still do!

I believe the future really lies in tech solutions like vertical farms. This ought to be closer than you think. E.g. in UK official projections make us a net exporter of electricity by 2030, so it won't be long before fully LED-lit indoor hydroponic farms make lots of economic sense. Just as battery farms are the least impactful way of raising chickens at scale*, so vertical farms will be for plants. If we couple that with a move to largely plant based diets then net impact on remaining spaces should reduce, and we can devote more of that to nature conservation. I really want to see more investment in (probably genetically engineered) plant-/microbe-based dairy replacements so we can reduce the massively wasteful dairy industry.

Yes, in (parts of) UK, Serengeti etc grazing is an important maintainer of biodiversity. I argue should leave that to the wild grazers not the tame ones.

* Obviously this depends on how you handle the waste, and equally obviously it says nothing about animal welfare. I suspect welfare is less of an issue with vertical farms, though...
 

Richard D

what was that...
Supporter
United Kingdom
However in terms of food miles/pound, just like refining oil or metal ores before transport, its better to convert veg to meat before sending it to market - though of course if you grow the feed elsewhere it's not so clever.

However, thank you for pointing out that British meat eaters like me who preferentially choose British beef (I'll even avoid the Irish that is in the shop whenever possible tbh) are in fact better for the environment than any fastidious vegan.

So if the whole of Europe accounts for 14% and the US only another 21%, who's eating the remaining 65%? Seems to me it doesn't leave much of the Western world as I understand the term.

John

Oh, no you're far worse than any vegan even if eating British beef - the volume of land needed to produce beef is absolutely huge. To produce the same amount of protein from peas, pulses etc. takes a tiny amount of land. You could grow those crops as monoculture and leave acres upon acres wild compared to beef farming: Land use per 100 grams of protein

Australia, Canada, South America are large beef consumers, Southern Asia consumes very little.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top