December 21, 2009
Did you know that, if you have a dog, it's worse for the environment than your SUV? That's the conclusion of the authors of "Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living". They even asked some UK scientists to back it up, because right now, there's nothing that we trust more than a UK scientist talking about the environment.
The Vales, specialists in sustainable living at Victoria University of Wellington, analysed popular brands of pet food and calculated that a medium-sized dog eats around 164 kilos (360 pounds) of meat and 95 kilos of cereal a year.
Combine the land required to generate its food and a "medium" sized dog has an annual footprint of 0.84 hectares (2.07 acres) -- around twice the 0.41 hectares required by a 4x4 driving 10,000 kilometres (6,200 miles) a year, including energy to build the car.
To confirm the results, the New Scientist magazine asked John Barrett at the Stockholm Environment Institute in York, Britain, to calculate eco-pawprints based on his own data. The results were essentially the same.
"Owning a dog really is quite an extravagance, mainly because of the carbon footprint of meat," Barrett said.
Other animals aren't much better for the environment, the Vales say.
Cats have an eco-footprint of about 0.15 hectares, slightly less than driving a Volkswagen Golf for a year, while two hamsters equates to a plasma television and even the humble goldfish burns energy equivalent to two mobile telephones.
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