Agriculture as climate killer in the United States

Essay 2015 16 Pages

Politics - International Politics - Environmental Policy



1. Introduction

2. What is climate change?

3. Agriculture in the U.S.
3.1 Reasons and problems
3.2 Impacts
3.3 Solutions

4. Situation of U.S.A
4.1 View of U.S. Government
4.2 Counteractive measures of U.S. Government
4.3 View of the people in the U.S.A.
4.4 Organizations against climate change in U.S.A

5. Summary

6. Outlook

7. Appendix

8. References
8.1 Book resource
8.2 Internet resource

1. Introduction

The following essay deals with agriculture as a polluter and contributor to climate change in the United States.

I have chosen this topic because it currently has a high degree of relevance in the world, and I am very interested in this topic. I have also chosen this theme because I like to analyse current issues to determine the problems of the topic, and to calculate the impacts and to potentially find ways to solve problems. I think a good analysis of this topic needs to be made.

In recent decades’ attention has increasingly been drawn to global climate change because of the belief that changes are happening to the earth. Today the visible consequences seem like they are increasingly occurring. Examples of this are severe natural disasters, global warming and this in turn causes increased social disparities, especially so in developing countries.

Practices related to agriculture are a main polluter and therefore a contributor to climate change and a climate, especially in the United States. I will show this with my essay. For this I explain the reasons, problems, impacts and solutions. In addition, I'll show the view of the U.S. Government and what people can do about this problem.

2. What is climate change?

Climate change refers to an increase that has been observed in recent decades of the average temperature of the Earth´s atmosphere and oceans and their expected future warming.

Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years.[1]

Climate change is influenced by human activities around the world, primarily fossil fuel use, forestry and agriculture which are producing growing quantities of emissions of greenhouse gases, other gases and particulates and these are also greatly altering the Earth´s vegetative cover.

3. Agriculture in the U.S.

3.1 Reasons and problems

With the increasing population in the United States the demand for food is growing. As a result, an intensification of agricultural production has followed. These include the increased use of capital-intensive means of production such as machinery, fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Other causes are the large-scale cultivation of monocultures, increased use of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, the major land management, the factory farming of cattle, pigs etc., the development of arable land from forests, meadows and natural landscapes, the excessive use of water for irrigation of arable land, intensive land use and shortened fallow periods, different climatic conditions in the United States and restriction of grazing land for cattle, because of the large forms of agriculture.

One of the biggest problems in industrialized agriculture (agro - farming) in the United States is the massive overuse of mineral, organic and liquid fertilizers. More than 50 per cent of all fertilizer applied to the soil ends up in the atmosphere or in local waterways. A very potent greenhouse gas is nitrous oxide (N20) and it has a global warming potential that is 296 times higher than that of carbon dioxide.[2] In 2008 the emissions of nitrous oxide in the U.S. were 318.2 million metric tons of CO2e.[3]

The second biggest direct emitters in agriculture are animals because they produce methane (CH4) and methane is 21 times worse than carbon dioxide. “Each kilogram of beef produced results in 13 kilos of carbon emissions; for lamb each kilo produces 17 kilos of emission.”(Vgl.: S.3 Abschnitt 3)[4]

Figure 1) [5]

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

3.2 Impacts

The intensification of agriculture brings ecological, economic and social consequences.

The large-scale cultivation of monocultures takes over the habitat of many plants and animals and leads to a loss of biodiversity. The large land management promotes the drying of the soil and soil erosion. Thus decreasing soil quality leads to a constant increase in the amount of fertilizers, and costly measures to try and improve soil quality. In addition, further drainage and irrigation continues to destroy wet biotopes.

The increased use of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides affected in many parts of the plant- and animal life can lead to an increase in diseases. It also leads to the accumulation of contaminants in groundwater which will in turn end up in our food and the food that animals eat. The people drink the groundwater and eat the food and their health is placed in a state of increasing danger. It is also important to note that the health of farmers is at extra risk as a result of the handling of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Besides Pathogens, pests can develop resistance to pesticides and damage or contaminate the crop.[6] This has dire financial consequences for the farmer because he cannot sell his crop.

Factory farming has been criticized on a number of points, from an ethical and ecological point of view and to aspects of quality. As a result of factory farming, many forests and green areas have been destroyed to make space for the planting of cash crops. This changes the natural landscape of an area and destroys the flora and fauna. Moreover, by grubbing the land, the stored carbon dioxide in the trees are released into the atmosphere and this contributes to global warming. Between 50000 – 100000 head of cattle are housed in a feedlot.[7]

This is not appropriate to the species and cruelty to animals. Factory farming contributes to the exhaust gases of the animals and in these dimensions this contributes much to global warming and air pollution.[8]


[1] Vgl.: Lomborg,Bjǿrn , 2004, S.13

[2] Vgl.:http://marktcheck.greenpeace.at/uploads/media/Cool_Farming_Report_Summary_Final_web_01.pdf

[3] Vgl.:http://www.cnie.org/NLE/CRSreports/10Jun/R40874.pdf

[4] in:http://marktcheck.greenpeace.at/uploads/media/Cool_Farming_Report_Summary_Final_web_01.pdf

[5] http://www.c2es.org/docUploads/images/policy_ag_figure2.gif

[6] vgl.: Heißenbuber,Alois/Katzek,Jens/Meusel,Florian , 1994 S.154

[7] vgl.: Boeti, Pasquale/Brodengeier, Egbert/Jackowski, Corina/Korby, Wilfried/Kreus,Arno/von der Ruhen,Norbert , 2011 S.16

[8] V. Eldon Ball, The Economic Impact of Public Support to Agriculture, Springer Science+Business Media, 2010, S 109-110


ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
614 KB
Catalog Number
Institution / College
University of Paderborn
Klimawandel Klimaethik Climate ciller



Title: Agriculture as climate killer in the United States