COMMENT: It is difficult to believe but according to research scientists in New Zealand, dogs are more environmentally unfriendly than cars because their carbon footprint is bigger. The information comes from Robert and Brenda Vale, specialists in sustainable living at Victoria University of Wellington. They have written a book: Time to Eat the Dog (a terrible title), in which they compare the eco-friendliness of companion animals with other elements of day-to-day human living, including driving a vehicle.
They worked out that a medium-sized dog consumes 90 g of meat and 156 g of cereal in every 300 g portion of dried dog food. They also worked out that it takes 0.84 hectares to generate that food annually.
They worked out that an SUV eco-footprint is about 0.41 hectares, which is less than half that of a dog. They found that the eco-footprint of an individual cat is comparable to that of a Volkswagen Golf. I have not checked these figures.
This information was discussed on the UK’s Good Morning Britain TV programme. Susanna Reid, one of the presenters of that show, argued with a guest who suggested that as cats and dogs are harming the planet they should be banned.
He is Donnachadgh McCarthy, an environmental artist (whatever that is). He said: “Well, there was a study in the Journal of Biosciences last year that said this state of the carbon emissions of a dog is the same as running two households for a year. So, we do have an issue. Pets are nice to have but we have to think of the consequences behind them.”
Susanna Reid disagreed with him strongly and I think that the point that she was making was that humans have a far higher carbon footprint and are far less eco-friendly so let’s deal with humans first as a priority. And she also made the point that companion animals are members of the family and you can’t just ban them.
I understand this man’s point of view and I sympathise somewhat but if we are to deal with damage to the environment and the planet, we have to approach the problem in an organised way and prioritise. The best way to prioritise is to deal with the most damaging elements of our lives first and that is concerned with human behaviour. Let’s have a look at ourselves first and be critical about it then when we’ve sorted out ourselves, we might be able to move on to our companion animals to see whether we can make them more environmentally friendly.
P.S. Cat food made from insects is a great step in the right direction of reducing the eco-footprint of cats. Read about it by clicking on this link.