|Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret|
Movie Poster for Cowspiracy
|Directed by||Kip Andersen|
|Produced by||Leonardo DiCaprio (Netflix version)|
|Edited by||Kip Andersen|
First Spark Media
Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret is a 2014 documentary film which explores the impact of animal agriculture on the environment, and investigates the policies of environmental organizations on this issue. The film looks at various environmental concerns, including global warming, water use, deforestation, and ocean dead zones, and suggests that animal agriculture is the primary source of environmental destruction.
The Union of Concerned Scientists has disputed the film's assertion that the majority of greenhouse gases driving climate change are produced by animal agriculture, as this runs counter to scientific consensus which is that the main cause is fossil fuel emissions. Also, in contrast to claims made in the film, a 2018 peer-reviewed meta-analysis estimates that the food supply chain is responsible for 26% of anthropogenic GHG emissions.
The documentary was directed by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, and explores the impact of animal agriculture on the environment, and investigates the policies of environmental organizations on this issue. Environmental organizations investigated in the film include Greenpeace, Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation, Rainforest Action Network, Oceana.
The film was crowdfunded on IndieGoGo, with 1,449 contributors giving $117,092. This funding was 217% of their goal, and it allowed them to dub the film into Spanish and German and subtitle it into more than 10 other languages, including Chinese and Russian. Screenings are licensed through the distributor, as well as through Tugg Inc.
The following individuals were featured in the film:
In a review in the SFWeekly it was called "a pile of self-indulgent, vegan propaganda". CinemaSpin said it did "not discuss nuances, instead opting for a simplistic “meat bad, vegan good” message".
Cowspiracy won the Audience Choice Award at the 2015 South African Eco Film Festival, as well as the Best Foreign Film Award at the 12th annual Festival de films de Portneuf sur l'environnement. It was also nominated for Cinema Politica’s 2015 Audience Choice Award.
The Union of Concerned Scientists has disputed the film's assertion that the majority of greenhouse gases driving climate change are produced by animal agriculture, as this runs counter to scientific consensus which is that the cause is fossil fuel emissions.
Doug Boucher, reviewing the film for the Union of Concerned Scientists, disputed the film's claim that 51% of global greenhouse gases are caused by animal agriculture. Boucher describes the 51% figure as being sourced from a 2009 Worldwatch Institute report by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang, not from a peer-reviewed scientific paper. He asserts methodological flaws in Goodland and Anhang's logic, and claims that the scientific community has formed a consensus that global warming is primarily caused by humanity's burning of fossil fuels. Boucher states that the scientific consensus is that livestock contribute 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions - far lower than the 51% claimed by the film.
Boucher's review concludes: "Movies like Cowspiracy aren’t believable, not only because of how they twist the science, but also because of what they ask us to believe: that the fossil fuel industry—the ExxonMobils of the world—aren’t the main cause of global warming... and that thousands of scientists have covered up the truth about the most important environmental issue of our time."
A 2018 peer-reviewed meta-analysis estimates that the food supply chain is responsible for 26% of annual anthropogenic GHG emissions. Within the food supply chain, animal products (including fish farms) account for 56-58% of GHGs, implying that animal products account for roughly 15% of total anthropogenic GHG emissions. In a 2019 erratum to the meta-analysis, the avoided annual greenhouse gas emissions arising from a "no animal products" scenario are estimated at 28% of the total, which includes 8.1 Gt CO2 of removal by trees regrowing on land no longer required for livestock.