researchers have argued that cows and sheep are big threats to
the climate, but a recent analysis by two New Zealand architects
has concluded that Fido and Fluffy, besides being warm and
cuddly, are also warming the planet. As the Dominion
Victoria University professors Brenda and Robert Vale,
architects who specialise in sustainable living, say pet owners
should swap cats and dogs for creatures they can eat, such as
chickens or rabbits, in their provocative new book Time to Eat
the Dog: The real guide to sustainable living.
"If you have a German shepherd or similar-sized dog, for
example, its impact every year is exactly the same as driving a
large car around," Brenda Vale said. "A lot of people worry
about having SUVs but they don't worry about having Alsatians
and what we are saying is, well, maybe you should be because
the environmental impact ... is comparable."
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In a study published in New Scientist, they calculated a medium
dog eats 164 kilograms of meat and 95kg of cereals every year.
It takes 43.3 square metres of land to produce 1kg of chicken a
year. This means it takes 0.84 hectares to feed Fido.
They compared this with the footprint of a Toyota Land Cruiser,
driven 10,000km a year, which uses 55.1 gigajoules (the energy
used to build and fuel it). One hectare of land can produce 135
gigajoules a year, which means the vehicle's eco-footprint is
0.41ha – less than half of the dog's.
They found cats have an eco-footprint of 0.15ha – slightly less
than a Volkswagen Golf. Hamsters have a footprint of 0.014ha –
keeping two of them is equivalent to owning a plasma TV.
Their solution: Fido fricassee. The Post continues:
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Professor Vale says the title of the book is meant to shock,
but the couple, who do not have a cat or dog, believe the
reintroduction of non-carnivorous pets into urban areas would
help slow down global warming.
"The title of the book is a little bit of a shock tactic, I
think, but though we are not advocating eating anyone's pet cat
or dog there is certainly some truth in the fact that if we
have edible pets like chickens for their eggs and meat, and
rabbits and pigs, we will be compensating for the impact of
other things on our environment."
Considering that there are about 72
million dogs and 82 million cats in the U.S., that would mean
that their ecological pawprints are roughly comparable to that of
the entire U.S. passenger vehicle
Carbon credits for pets?