A steer is coaxed into its pen at a feedlot near Garden City, Kansas.
Sparse population, a semiarid climate, and abundant groundwater turned the southern High Plains into the world’s feedlot capital. A single quarter-pound hamburger requires about 460 gallons of water to raise and process the beef.
In the High Plains, water is about corn and corn is about beef. Feedlots will exist after the water dwindles then grain will be brought in from outside areas. Texas ranks first with the highest number of cattle on feed followed by Kansas and Nebraska. In rough terms–there’s a 1000 feet of water left under Nebraska, 200 feet under Kansas, and about 30 feet under Texas. If all the cows are put on one side of a scale and humans on another, there are 2.5 times more cattle than people.
Beef compared to other meats: Five times the global warming contribution per calorie, 11 times more water, and 28 times as much land. Eating a pound of beef has more climatic impact than a gallon of gas. “When you add it all up, it comes up to about 14.5 percent of greenhouse gas comes from the animal agriculture sector. That’s bigger than all transportation combined,” James Cameron
- RANDY OLSON
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- Ogallala Aquifer_National Geographic Magazine 8/2016