Slow motion disasters


“slow motion disasters are suspected reach a tipping point where the harm done is irreversible.”

These issues are:

  1. climate change,
  2. antibiotic resistance,
  3. and the rise of non-communicable diseases.


  • Industrial animal farming (also known as concentrated animal feeding operations [CAFOs]) is a major contributor to each of the three disasters
    • Experts predict that without urgent and drastic shifts in global meat consumption, agriculture will consume the entire world’s carbon budget necessary for keeping global temperature rises under 2°C by 2050.2 The same study, led by scientists at the Oxford Martin School, predicted that if health guidelines on meat consumption were followed worldwide, 5·1 million premature deaths would be prevented and greenhouse gas emissions would be two-thirds lower by 2050 compared with expected trends.
    • Industrial animal farming also contributes to the rise of antibiotic resistance and pandemic threats in two major ways:

      • first, through the widespread “low-dose” use of antibiotics on farms;

      • and second, by rapidly expanding deforestation in order to supply grazing and feed land for cattle, which brings human beings in closer contact with wild animals that may carry emerging zoonotic diseases


  1. Chan, M. Address to the Sixty-ninth World Health Assembly. ((accessed April 25, 2017).)
  2. Springmann, M, Godfray, HCJ, Rayner, M, and Scarborough, P. Analysis and valuation of the health and climate change cobenefits of dietary change. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2016; 113: 4146–4151
  3. Lindahl, JF and Grace, D. The consequences of human actions on risks for infectious diseases: a review. Infect Ecol Epidemiol. 2015; 5: 30048
  4. Silbergeld, EK, Graham, J, and Price, LB. Industrial food animal production, antimicrobial resistance, and human health. Annu Rev Public Health. 2008; 29: 151–169
  5. Weathers, S and Hermanns, S. Open letter on animal farming: to the Director-General of the World Health Organization. ((accessed April 25, 2017).)