Australia: What do you think about? Koalas and kangaroos? Do you ever think about cows? Probably not, right?
People are often surprised by the reality. There were millions of koalas alive before Captain Cook’s arrival. Today, there are only around 48,000 in the wild. What has happened to them?
The main cause of their drop in numbers is their homes being cut down. This forest clearing is mainly to graze cows. There are around 25,000,000 cows in Australia. That is about 1 cow for each Australian.
The cow capital of Australia is Queensland. Queensland has around 11.7 million cows. There are more than twice as many cows as people. 98% of Australian cows eat grass and live outside. This is better for the cows, but it is a disaster for wildlife.
Between 1988 2015, 11 million rugby fields of forest were cut down. 91% was for pasture. That’s 3/4 of a rugby field every minute.
This situation is also bad for humans. Trees store lots of carbon. When trees are cut, CO2 escapes. The soil under the trees also stores carbon. This carbon is lost when trees are cut down.
The official carbon footprint of animal agriculture in Australia is 10%. However, scientists say this figure is more like 50%.
Recently, many scientists are warning us about cutting down too many trees. They say we need to protect the forests. Can we justify cutting them down for beef burgers? We have to ask, which is more important, burgers or forests?