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Breanne Penn

Mr. Lee
Documentary Analysis

Cowspiracy: Agriculture Vs the Environment

The 2014 Documentary, Cowspiracy, focuses on the affect that agriculture,
especially the cattle business has on the environment, and takes the position that it is a
major problem for the planet and a solution must be found.
At the beginning of the film, the argument unfolds, beginning with the loss of
freshwater. Our planet has a limited supply of this necessary resource, and according to
the documentary, 36 trillion gallons of water is used per year in agriculture. The film also
argues that cattle-ranching alters the atmosphere negatively through the methane gas
released from the animals. Approximately 150 billion gallons of methane gas are released
a day. This presents a problem with global warming. The added CO2 in atmosphere
becomes just another greenhouse gas that raises the global temperature.
The documentary also argues that cattle-ranching especially causes the loss of
surrounding creatures, as ranchers round up the wild mustangs and kill natural predators
such as cougars, mountain lions, and wolves, in order to obtain free land.
According to the directors of Cowspiracy, a direct solution to ending world
hunger would be to halt the livestock portion of agriculture completely, and to feed the
people the food that was being fed to the animals. The concentration of feed that goes
into one cow is incredible. Statistics prove that soon it will be impossible to maintain a
stable earth due to the amount of agriculture needed to sustain us will end up taking up
the entire earth with the amount of land and natural resources needed. As the population

grows, becoming vegan looks like the only solution to the problem. Unfortunately, the
entire subject is touchy and often avoided because it is such a huge money maker and is
thus an epic part of our economy. Abolishing agriculture will not only destroy the market,
but will also enrage many people who may lose their jobs, or who have a cultural,
traditional, or religious tie to the products. Because of this, whoever tries to speak up is
usually silenced, as seen with the execution of Dorothy Stang, who was executed after
exposing the truth.
The film makers employ many devices to persuade the viewer, such as appealing
to the emotions. They focused in on animal cruelty and showed a gruesome duck death.
This only applies to a small portion of the wedge, but was employed as a large-scale
argumentation point. The film makers also used ominous music in the background to
subconsciously allow the viewer to connect ranchers as dangerous people. Finally, they
brought up several concessions before presenting a counter argument. They brought up
the fact that most people are against the idea of abolishing ranching because they believe
it is healthier for them to have meat in their diets. However, the documenter discovers
that being vegan is just as healthy and there are alternative meat and egg substitutes.
This documentary was very effective on bringing the issue to me and convincing
me that this is a legitimate problem and that something needs to be done about it. The
statistics about running out of land were especially efficient. The film proved to me the
importance of just one person eating less meat can make an impact and now I believe that
we may not need to abolish livestock agriculture completely, but we need to limit the
amount of meat that we intake and hopefully save some land and other resources affected
by the agriculture business.