The pork industry produces incredible amounts of fecal waste and fails to properly dispose of it, harming the health of millions and severely damaging the environment. The waste and its by-products often end up in various sources of freshwater. Besides the rare and easily manageable fine, hog producers suffer no consequences for killing wildlife and causing sickness and suffering to human beings. The problem is that the pig manure is either sprayed on fields as fertilizer or stored in lagoons, and these methods result in feces and its by-products running off into waterways. Lagoons are how Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations store pig shit and piss.
A lagoon is a big pool full of rancid rotting poop. The Michigan Technological University website explains what a lagoon is even better. “Lagoons are one of the oldest wastewater treatment systems created by humans. They consist of in-ground earthen basins in which the waste is detained for a specified time (detention time) and then discharged. The size and depths can vary, as well as the degree of treatment. Although these lagoon, or ponds as sometimes called, are very simple in design, there are complex chemical, biological and physical processes taking place.” More specifically, anaerobic lagoons, which is what pig lagoons are, “are typically 6 to 30 feet deep. They have no aerobic zones, which may cause the production of odors. The detention time can vary from 20 – 50 days. These systems have typically been used to treat high strength wastewater. The low-rate anaerobic process stabilizes organic matter, converting it to carbon dioxide and methane. If sulfur is present, hydrogen sulfide, an odorous compound, may be produced. Particulate matter that does not get degraded will settle to the bottom.” Methane and carbon dioxide are greenhouse gases, which prevent heat in the Earth’s atmosphere from radiating back out into space, which causes it to retain warmth. A 2006 study entitled “Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options” conducted by the United Nations concluded that, “Livestock are responsible for 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.” The present system of hog lagoons is contributing the extinctions of countless species across the globe. The hog industry is damaging our environment and being paid to do so by every person who eats pork. I command you to stop eating pork.
An article on epa.gov entitled “Summary of the Clean Water Act” says that, “Under the CWA, EPA has implemented pollution control programs such as setting wastewater standards for industry. We have also set water quality standards for all contaminants in surface waters. The CWA made it unlawful to discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters, unless a permit was obtained. EPA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program controls discharges. Point sources are discrete conveyances such as pipes or man-made ditches.” As it so often does, the Environmental Protection Agency is failing to protect the environment, because this is actually very limited legislation. Pollutants do not only find their way to bodies of water via man-made devices! Our government is shittier than our drinking water. The Quartz article “The world eats cheap bacon at the expense of North Carolina’s rural poor” explains, “Only 40% of 20,000 large livestock operations in the US are regulated under the Clean Water Act, the federal law on water pollution, because only CAFOs that are designed to discharge directly into streams or other water sources are required to apply for federal permits under the Clean Water Act.”
Whether waste is deliberately dumped into waterways or not, it ends up there. The onearth.org article “Hog Wild: Factory Farms Are Poisoning Iowa’s Drinking Water” says that, “Mounting evidence suggests that an unprecedented boom in the hog industry has created a glut of manure, which is applied as fertilizer to millions of acres of cropland and runs off into rivers and streams, creating a growing public health threat.” Manure is used as fertilizer, but hog farms have another purpose for spraying fecal matter on farmland. In the bu.edu article, “Another Something Foul in the Air above Hog Farms”, the environmental activist Rick Dove claims that, “Spraying waste as fertilizer for growing crops is a pretext for getting rid of these wastes.” What if I sprayed diarrhea out of my asshole, onto your face, while you eat bacon? You would be upset. But that is what you do to our environment when you eat the bacon.
Contaminated water has terrible effects on humans. “Hog Wild: Factory Farms Are Poisoning Iowa’s Drink Water” explains a specific instance of what happens when pig waste pollutes water too much. “At one point last summer, nitrate in the Raccoon River reached 240 percent of the level allowed under the Clean Water Act, and the DMWW warned parents not to let children drink from the tap, reminding them of the risk of blue baby syndrome. (Nitrate impairs the oxygen capacity of the bloodstream; in babies and toddlers the syndrome can effectively cut off their air supply, rendering them a deathly blue.)” Eating a hot dog is like choking a baby. However, it’s not only humans that are at risk. Wildlife suffers even more than humans do from water pollution. The Stetson University student Tabea H. Wanninger’s research paper “Implications of Pig Factory Farming” explains, “The main problem comes from the nitrates in the pig manure. When they enter the water system, it leads to an algae bloom that uses up most of the oxygen in the water, leading eventually to the death of other living organisms (namely fish) in the water eco‐system. This process is called ‘eutrophication’ in the Chemical and Biological field. A spill of 25 million gallons of manure in 1995 caused the death of 10 million fish.” Pigs are not the only animal that the hog industry kills. This was not an isolated incident. Eutrophication is a regular occurrence thanks to the nitrates the hog industry produces.
The hog industry pretends it is not harming the environment, but scientific evidence shows otherwise. Of course, no matter how much evidence is available, they will continue to lie because it is good for their business to distort the truth. In “The World Eats Cheap Bacon at the Expense of North Carolina’s Rural Poor” by journalist Lily Kuo, it says, “The industry argues that few studies show a direct link between hog CAFOs and harm to people’s health or the environment. They say that the lagoons, if maintained properly, can last forever and pose little threat to the environment or nearby residents. A study released in January by researchers at the University of North Carolina and Johns Hopkins University found elevated levels of hog-related fecal bacteria—which can cause hepatitis, typhoid, dysentery and other health problems—in waterways near hog operations. A new study released in June by the US Geological Survey found that 21 of 36 watersheds in eastern North Carolina with swine or poultry CAFOs showed higher levels of nutrients and major ions than those without. Other studies point to effects ranging from impaired memory function to higher infant mortality (paywall) rates; higher asthma rates in children to wheezing, nausea and higher blood pressure among the neighboring population.” Drinking the water that has been polluted by hog feces is detrimental to one’s health, surprisingly enough, despite being delicious.
The fecal pollution of our waterways will never end thanks to the amoral carnivorous nature of human beings coupled with their inability to understand and respond to the damage they are causing to the environment. Those in charge of the hog industry profit from misery and anyone who buys their products is paying for the poisoning of our water. Things will only get worse and the only way they wouldn’t is if people stopped eating pigs. Many people aren’t aware of how what they’re eating affects the environment; that by eating bacon they are indirectly pooping in the water people drink, killing wild animals, and severely damaging the environment. The awareness will not spread nearly enough because the majority of information that is fed to people is useless nonsense. Even if it did, humans have consistently demonstrated that when it comes to eating meat, there are no rational arguments that will persuade most people to stop destroying our planet (and harming animals) for the sake of a fleeting sensation on their tongues. Things will only get worse.
“Another Something Foul in the Air above Hog Farms.” Triplepoint. 10 September 2016
“Hog Wild: Factory Farms Are Poisoning Iowa’s Drinking Water.” Onearth. 10 September 2016
“Implications of Pig Factory Farming.” Stetson University. 10 September 2016
“Lagoon Systems.” School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science. 21 September 2016
“Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options.” European Parliament. 13 September 2016
“Summary of the Clean Water Act.” Environmental Protection Agency. 13 September 2016
“The World Eats Cheap Bacon at the Expense of North Carolina’s Rural Poor.” Quartz.10 September 2016
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