As I follow the request by the Scott County owner of Grandview Farms to expand his Concentrated Animals Feeding Operation (CAFO), I do not think the debate has adequately addressed the question of how this CAFO and factory farms will affect the quality of the environment for generations to come.
No matter how scientifically farmers manage their livestock, pig, or poultry operation, these operations have seismic consequences:
- Methane gas is produced, which eats holes in the ozone layer of the atmosphere;
- Manure containing growth hormones and antibiotics presents a threat to the quality of ground water; and
- The subsequent promotion of the heavy eating of meat laden with growth hormones and antibiotics poses serious health risks to humans.
One other consequence of a CAFO is the inhumane treatment of animals, all of whom are sentient beings capable of experiencing suffering. While I eat some meat, I don't want to eat meat produced at the expense of animals raised inhumanely.
The emphasis on the economic bottom line of the farmer and the ripple effect through the local economy does nothing to reverse the harmful environmental costs that will be paid by future generations.
Multiply the decision made in Scott County by the number of similar decisions made across rural America, and we see a huge negative impact on the environment of the entire planet.
The technological revolution has advanced faster than our ability to master responsibly that technology. The BP disaster in the gulf demonstrates that reality.
So, our potential for environmental disasters, both locally and globally, continues to move toward a tipping point. Once reached, we will no longer be able to reverse the consequences.
As I look at the world, both locally and globally over my lifetime, I am saddened by the loss of wisdom and foresight. I still have hope, however small, that each of us will seize the daily opportunities to live as co-creators of our environment by making responsible economic and environmental choices.