New Zealand Cow Seep
Dairy cows were introduced into New Zealand in the early 19th century. Growth in dairy farming was modest until after World War 2. In the 21st century, accelerating production accompanied oligopolization of the local diary industry. Some 6.6 million cattle are now squeezed into a country with 4.7 million people, transforming the landscape made famous in the Lord of the Rings films into a country of cattle.
Water in most of New Zealand used to be clean enough to drink with minimal treatment. No longer. Cow wastes have polluted New Zealand’s water supply to a dangerous level, as well as damaging the native flora and fauna. Over 70% of native freshwater fish are threatened with extinction.
Water pollution will only get worse. It can take decades for pollutants to move through groundwater and emerge in lakes.
New Zealand is a rainy place, but rivers have shriveled, and groundwater levels fallen in cow-intensive areas. 2,000 of the thirstiest dairies consume as much water as 60 million people would: equivalent to the combined populations of London, New York, Tokyo, Los Angeles, and Rio de Janeiro.
The ever-increasing cattle population is wreaking havoc on Earth’s ecosystems. Cattle raising is a primary factor in the destruction of the world’s remaining tropical rain forests. Cattle herding is responsible for much of the spreading desertification. Organic runoff from feedlots is a major source of groundwater pollution. ~ American economist Jeremy Rifkin