Every eight seconds the size of a football field disappears in the Brazilian Amazon. Not so much for the wood, but to create pastures for cows.


Brazil with 200 million cows has the biggest commercial cattle herd in the world and is beef producer No 1 in the world.


According to the FAO (United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization), cattle generates 18 percent more greenhouse gas emissions then cars and is a major source of land and water degradation.


Because of the methane gas cows release, meat production is one of biggest threats to global warming nowadays.


“The environmental costs per unit of livestock production must be cut by one half, just to avoid the level of damage worsening beyond its present level.”


“When emissions from land use and land use change are included, the livestock sector accounts for 9 percent of CO2 deriving from human-related activities, but produces a much larger share of even more harmful greenhouse gases. It generates 65 percent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2. Most of this comes from manure. And it accounts for respectively 37 percent of all human-induced methane (23 times as warming as CO2), which is largely produced by the digestive system of ruminants, and 64 percent of ammonia, which contributes significantly to acid rain.”


“Livestock now use 30 percent of the earth’s entire land surface, mostly permanent pasture but also including 33 percent of the global arable land used to producing feed for livestock, the report notes. As forests are cleared to create new pastures, it is a major driver of deforestation, especially in Latin America where, for example, some 70 percent of former forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing.”


Most of the deforestation for pastures is illegal. In the dry season the forest is on set on fire leaving a graveyard of burned trees. These forest fires are also a serious contributor to global warming. After the burning, bulldozers clear the area. Wood that remains is often used to produce charcoal in ovens, which are scattered in the states of Para and Mato Grosso. The charcoal is used in blast furnaces in and outside Brazil. After the land has been cleared planes drop grass seeds to create the pastures.


The (cattle) farmers are a powerful force in Brazil where 75% of the land is owned by 3% of the people.


This story is part of Climate Change by NOOR.