Every choice we make has consequences. My choices create impacts. Even if I sat on a rock and fasted till death I would still be consuming air and producing heat. Being dead impacts nature. We are all hypocrites. But we are able to make lesser impact choices. I burn fossil fuel driving around and caused by purchase choices. I have feet of clay, I have dirty feet.
On my fossil fuel burning (25mpg) driving my take away of land use in the west is if you can steal water. I saw irrigated hay fields, past harvest unsold bales of hay, and feed lots each as a result of stealing water. Cows are the cause. But getting closer to the root cause is human demand for eating beef.
Back in 1981 I read Francis Moore Lappe’s book Diet for a Small Planet which educated me about food choices. I have not eaten beef or pork since then. Recently I ran across additional facts about the impact of eating beef. Beef production is resource intensive. To create 2.2 lbs of meat the cow requires 29 pounds of grain and 66 pounds of hay plus 26,000 gallons of water. US food production uses approximately 50% of land area, 80% of fresh water and 17% of fossil fuels. I have no data on how the ecology is affected by grazing beef. Obviously cows compete with native animals which affects plants. Cows digestive gasses are a significant source of methane from the front end.
Arizona is in a drought. The desert is dried up. Grasses are standing straw. Yet ranchers are still allowed to graze cattle. They seem to be eating dried plants of some kind. Water is stolen from somewhere.
Grazing on public lands, yours and mine, is damaging our lands.
We create a demand when we consume, if no consumption no demand. I as 1 person is all I can change which I did back in 1981. I have made my mark.