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martyd | Oct 27, 2009 10:55 AM

Has it come to this already?

Time to Eat the Dog: The real guide to sustainable living is the name of a new book written by two Victoria University professors, Brenda and Robert Vale. The couple -- both architects who specialize in sustainable living -- have computed the carbon emissions created by pets, taking into account the ingredients of pet food and "the land needed to create them."

"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 told The Dominion Post. (Be sure to check out the comments after the article, including this one:

The "role" of the conspicuously useless pet has in our modern lives seems only to prove Thorstein Veblen right. When once pets ate mice or hunted with us now they are trophies of their own uselessness. That owners become emotionally attached to them is perhaps simply even more indicative of the inappropriate emotional role played by pets in the lives of the lonely modern person/family.)

The Vales believe that the reintroduction of non-carnivorous pets into urban areas would help slow down global warming. "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," says Robert Vale.

Cats have an eco-pawprint equal to a Volkswagen Golf. If you have two hamsters, it's equivalent to owning a plasma TV. Goldfish have an eco-finprint equal to two cellphones.

The study was published in New Scientist.

Consumerism Is Going to the Dogs
Erik Assadourian
Erik Assadourian
Oct 28, 2009 12:14 PM
Great quote by Brenda! I've read through Time to Eat the Dog and it is filled with horrifying statistics about pet ownership. As the New Scientist article notes, the key is not to own a pet, or if you must, share one or have an edible pet. One other key point I discuss here (http://blogs.worldwatch.org/[…]/) is that we need to prevent our pets from being consumers. Their damage goes beyond their diets, but when we buy them clothes, plastic toys, and give them high-tech medical care and drugs, their impact skyrockets. Yes, I recognize that dogs and cats are now viewed as part of the family (due in large part to the intentional "humanization" of pets by the pet industry) but as the Earth's systems start to fail and threaten humanity's long-term survival possibilities, perhaps it's time to accept that chemotherapy or complex surgical procedures for pets are no longer justifiable options.
clearly you've never had a pet.
Michelle
Michelle
Oct 28, 2009 01:14 PM
clearly, you've never become emotionally bonded to an animal. I have a cat with a chronic health condition. I have spent thousands of dollars on her care, treatment and special food. Is it rational that I did this? No. I am a biologist in the CA public sector, I know about environmental issues and I'm still reeling from the 15% pay cut. You can't speak about an emotional decision, rationally. I am deeply attached to my cat and will do anything to help her. Thankfully, she's doing well now. Her trust and love is freely given to me, and she brings me more happiness than many interactions I have with my own species. I know many other people who feel the same.
companions not pets
satya
satya
Oct 31, 2009 06:18 PM
Sorry, but this just doesn't wash with people who are responsible owners of companion animals. Dogs have evolved over tens of thousands of years to be with humans; cats have followed. Check into a scientifically very cutting-edge book called "Made for Each Other" by Meg Olmert about the hormone oxytoncin and how the lives or animals and humans are deeply intertwined over millenium. Bonding with an animal is not anthropomorphic or indulgent. It's a part of being human.
How about Kids?
Chris Carrier
Chris Carrier
Nov 14, 2009 02:39 PM
How many carbon credits does one have to buy to offset the environmental impact of having a child???? How come those numbers never show up anywhere. The dogs get blamed for all the p[oblems created by the overpopulation of humans. Lets start being honest about where the true impacts come from - our excessive lifestyles and our selfish need to recreate ourselves.
eating our pets
shelley
shelley
Nov 17, 2009 01:53 PM
This is one of the stupidest things Ive heard so far about how to combat global warming and I'm not sure they are even serious. If pets are useless, so, of course, are people. So the best thing we can do for this planet is to cropdust the world with birth control for humans. Humans are the ONLY out-of-control plague on the planet. I always say, "human beings are the only species capable of creating vast systems to screw themselves with."
there are worse planetary transgressions
JT
JT
Nov 17, 2009 04:16 PM
As a vegetarian, I'm afraid no pets will be eaten in my household. While astonishing amounts of money are spent on companion animals, and I plead guilty, all the animals I've ever shared my life with have been rescued and altered. I didn't breed any of them, just as I haven't bred myself. Being veg and not reproducing are the biggest bang for the green buck, so I will keep my animal companions as recompense, thank you very much.
Eat the Rich
Calvin
Calvin
Nov 17, 2009 09:21 PM
I love it,the green movement is imploding in upon its own fallacy. If you are real concerned about your carbon footprint, just keep it up. Mother nature has a way of self correcting. We are the rabbit and the coyote, all wrapped into one package. Gradual suicide is the solution and it is well underway. Enjoy what time you have left. Buy a Great Dane!!! Drive an Excursion.

Speaking of useless, how about lawyers, religious leaders, bureaucrats, stock brokers (and all other salespersons),Al Gore, etc. etc.
Edible pets...
Smithhammer
Smithhammer
Nov 18, 2009 09:44 AM
Yeah, and if you were a truly committed "green" architect, you'd tell people to quit building new homes and use existing ones instead, but that isn't going to happen, is it? I'd be curious to see just how "sustainably" these urban architects truly are in their personal lives.

And my dog is far from "useless." He is an active hunting breed, which helps bring local food to our table.

Btw, can we please move past putting "eco" in front of other words? That has got to be the most tired, over-used prefix of the decade.

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