Is Fido Leaving a Carbon Pawprint?

PF Digital Dispatch


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Recently I have been writing a lot about the issue of anthropogenic global warming (or climate change). And I understand, as quite a few readers have pointed out, that I am largely (but not entirely) preaching to the choir when I express skepticism of the whole idea.

Sometimes, though, you are presented with an opportunity that you just can’t pass up. This is one of those times.

According to this article, the authors of a new book say dogs, cats and other pets are causing more environmental havoc than gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles. In Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living, New Zealanders Robert and Brenda Vale calculate that a medium-sized mutt eats about 360 lb of meat and 210 lb of cereal a year. Based on this, and adding in the land required to generate the pooch’s food, the Vales figure that the dog has a carbon pawprint greater than that of an SUV driven 10,000 km (6,200 miles) annually.

As the human attached to three dogs, I take exception to the book’s title just on general principle. I am sure many other pet owners feel the same way. But in the interest of science I decided to weigh the food my canines eat every day and see how it compared with the Vales’ figures.

The largest of the three weighs 45 lb—medium-sized, by nearly any definition. He eats 5 oz of dry food every day, the two smaller dogs a bit less. Between them, they consume ¾ lb of dry food daily, or a total of 274 lb/year. That’s an average per dog of just over 91 lb of dry food annually.

I don’t know what “fudge factor” the Vales used to convert the weight of dry dog food and come up with a total of 570 lb of meat and cereal—according to the article, they analyzed popular dog food brands—but I have to believe their figures are probably a bit over-inflated.

The bottom line to me is, this is just more hyperbole from proponents of global warming. They do not help their cause with this kind of “science,” and frankly they can have my dogs when they pry their leashes from my cold, dead, hands.

We’re done with global warming now for a while, kids. Happy New Year.