Biodiversity issues — driven by livestock (Sound Bites)

The sixth edition of our Sound Bite Series. Once again, livestock appears to be causing the most damage; from the U.N. Report:

The livestock sector may well be the leading player in the reduction of biodiversity.

The 2006 U.N. Report

The UN report, Livestock’s Long Shadow, came out in late 2006 and reported how the livestock industry is seriously damaging our environment in four separate categories: Land and Trees, Water, Climate Change and Biodiversity. All four were covered in Chapter 4 of our book; for your convenience, a few sound bites are presented here for the last one.

But, first, a few words about what biodiversity is all about and why it is important. We are all familiar with land, trees, water and we’ve heard an awful lot about climate change, but not so much about biodiversity. In our book, we provided the following introduction:

Forests are crucial to the survival of a great many of the million plus species on planet Earth.

An environment’s biodiversity is determined by the number of different animal and plant species that live in it. Rich biodiversity is crucial to the structure of the ecosystems and habitats that support all living things—including wildlife, fish, and forests. The greater the number of different species of plants and animals, the healthier the ecosystem and the better able to withstand disaster it is. Biodiversity helps provide for our basic human needs such as food, shelter, and medicine, all of which are derived (directly or indirectly) from biological sources, and it fosters ecosystems that maintain oxygen in the air, enrich the soil, and purify the water. Strong ecosystems help to protect against flood and storm damage and reg- ulate climate. In a nutshell, biodiversity makes sustained living on planet Earth possible for all living creatures.

Two of every three bird species are in decline. After millions of species have existed on this planet for billions of years, the human race is the only one that has not lived in harmony with nature.

Bite #1. Human activities have raised the rate of extinction to 1,000 times its usual rate. If we continue on this path, Earth will experience the sixth great wave of extinctions in billions of years of history.

From our book, “According to the previously mentioned UN report, we are in an era of unprecedented threats to biodiversity. The rate at which we’re losing species is estimated to be fifty to five hundred times higher than historical rates found in the fossil record. Fifteen out of twenty-four important ecosystem services are assessed to be in decline.

The livestock sector may well be the leading player in the reduction of biodiversity, since it is a major driver of deforestation, land degradation, pollution, climate change, overfishing, sedimentation of coastal areas, and facilitation of invasions by alien species.”

Many amphibians are in danger. After millions of species have existed on this planet for billions of years, the human race is the only one that has not lived in harmony with nature.

Bite #2. An estimated two of every three bird species in the world are in decline; one in every eight plant species is endangered or threatened; and one-quarter of mammals, one-quarter of amphibians, and one-fifth of reptiles are endangered or vulnerable.

Also in crisis are forests and fisheries, which are essential biological resources and integral parts of the Earth’s ecosystems. Forests are home to 50 to 90 percent of terres- trial species. They also provide services such as carbon storage and flood prevention, and they are critical resources for many culturally diverse societies and millions of indigenous people. The World Resources Institute estimates that only one-fifth of the Earth’s original forest cover has survived, and still deforestation continues, with 180 million acres in developing countries deforested between 1980 and 1995.

More than half of ocean fish stocks are exploited at or beyond capacity. After millions of species have existed on this planet for billions of years, the human race is the only one that has not lived in harmony with nature.

Bite #3. Overfishing, destructive fishing techniques, and other human activities have severely jeopardized the health of many of the world’s fish stocks along with associated marine species and eco-systems. 

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that more than half of ocean fish stocks are exploited at or beyond capacity. At the same time, our agricultural practices on land are beginning to foul the oceans as well.


All of the above was based on well-referenced information that appears in Chapter 4 of our book. While the U.N. Report was compelling in its findings, it offered precious little in terms of a recommended solution. That’s because, it is very likely that a very large percentage, if not ALL, of the scientists working on the study still believe that we humans “need” to eat animal protein to be healthy. Until these great minds become aware the complete truth about nutrition, they are not likely to recommend the obvious solution — a return to the natural diet for our species.

Click on the image to visit our 4-Leaf Page

Sound bite series…

  1. Big Picture — First edition (7-21-11)
  2. Wasteful, Harmful and Cruel (7-26-11)
  3. Environment — Land & trees (7-27-11)
  4. Environment — Water (7-28-11)
  5. Environment — Climate change (7-29-11)
  6. Environment — Biodiversity (7-30-11)

If you like what you see here, you may wish to join our periodic mailing list. Also, for help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4-Leaf page. From the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

If you’d like to order our book on Amazon,  visit our BookStore now.

—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at

PS: Occasionally an unauthorized ad may appear beneath a blog post. It is controlled by WordPress (a totally free hosting service). I do not approve or personally benefit whatsoever from any ad that might ever appear on this site. I apologize and urge you to please disregard. 

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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