Saturday, 24 October 2009

Carbon paw-prints

It's hard to see the dogs lying peacefully at my feet as being responsible for global warming. They don't fly anywhere for their holidays, drive a Chelsea tractor or fart as much as cows.
Yet BBC Breakfast has just highlighted a new book from NZ called, Save the planet: time to eat the dog.

I quote from NZ website

The eco-pawprint of a pet dog is twice that of a 4.6-litre Land Cruiser driven 10,000 kilometres a year, researchers have found.

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.

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.

Well that's almost convinced me, I'll put the oven on.

Hold on, maybe it's time to look at eco-friendly dog food, grown locally? Or just choose dogs that can catch their own tea? We may have a relevant feature coming up in our January issue....!

So perhaps don't downscale your dogs for hamsters just yet!

And another way to save the planet, turn the heating down and just put another dog on the bed!


Em said...

Saw the same feature as you. As a veggie I suspect I adequately offset my pets :) And Mollie is so small, I don't think her carbon footprint is very big anyway, except inasmuch as her food comes from Sweden...

Some people really do publish silly books..

Beverley Cuddy said...

Food from Sweden, interesting. Is that the one that sounds like Origin? Not sure how you spell it? Always interested in different foods! What the USP of the one your using?

Chloe said...

Orijen is from Canada i believe - anyway dont they (dogfood producers) use the chickens etc that arent good enough for human consumption so it cant really count as they are breeding those chickens for our food production

Skidge said...

I would love to see the same scientists commission a report on how good Dogs are for our health? Actually don't we know? Walking regularly helps strengthen bones, keep obesity at bay, is good for our hearts and general well-being.

So by having my two, I think currently I am saving the NHS a bit of money in the future, the police time and money (a burgular would be very stupid to enter, death by licking...) and my whole family get involved (see prior point about NHS...)

So Digby and Pebbles are contributing to less energy needed by our local hospial, and less carbon emissions generated by the Police getting round here to save a burgled damsel.

Beverley Cuddy said...

I asked Emma on Twitter, here's her answer:

"I use Bozita - the wet foods. They are all natural and free from hormones & antibiotics. Pets all very healthy on them. I buy from @MutleyandMog who are in Glasgow :) (and who are very friendly and have excellent customer service)/"

CarbonAsSprint said...

this is absurd. what is the carbon footprint involved in sustaining these scientists and producing a book about this rubbish?