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Cook Organic not the Planet Campaign

Factory Farming Is the Overlooked Enemy of a Healthy Environment

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's CAFO's vs. Free Range page and our Environment and Climate Resource Center page.

Protests, such as this one on Wall Street Tuesday, are only part of the climate activism. Addressing animal agriculture is equally crucial. (Bryan Thomas/Getty)

World leaders gathered Tuesday in New York to identify global climate change solutions, as part of Climate Week. But will these luminaries and political leaders ignore the elephant-or in this instance, the chicken, cow, and pig-in the room?

Given the preponderance of evidence that greenhouse gases are contributing to climate change, these leaders must not ignore the emissions caused by animal agriculture.

Raising and slaughtering tens of billions of animals across the globe for food each year is right up there with coal-fired power plants in pumping heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere.

Yet animal agriculture hits close to home for all of us, because it requires every nation to think about food policy and every person to think about what we eat.

Few would dispute that animal agriculture has taken a harsh turn in the last half century. We have industrialized the production of animals for food, putting them wing to wing and shoulder to shoulder in factory farms. We confine animals in small cages and crates; mutilate them by cutting off their tails or beaks without painkillers; slaughter them when they're too sick or injured to walk; and cause them immense chronic pain and disease through unhealthy breeding practices that swell their size and unnaturally accelerate their reproduction.