Carbon pawprint – Part I

What is the carbon “pawprint” of your pet?

This article talks about the environmental impact of pets.  It confirmed what I expected — that having pets is far from environmentally friendly.  The study/book claims that a medium-size dog generates twice as much carbon in a year (mostly through its meat-heavy diet) than driving a gas guzzler (i.e., SUV).  Now, I’m not claiming that this was a highly scientific study.  The book they mention probably contains more details, but the articles lacks mention of the mileage of the comparison vehicle.  The “twice as much as a gas guzzler” is also based on a calculation of driving only 6,200 miles per year.  While this may be average for other countries, in the U.S. we log closer to 12,000 miles a year.

What are the environmental impacts of pets?

The meat-based diet ranks as number one on the list.  This is similar to the impact the the average American’s meat-heavy diet has on the planet.  The problem is that, while humans improve their health by reducing and/or eliminating meat from our diets, dogs and cats (especially cats) cannot be vegetarian.

Pets poop.  Simple fact.  Irresponsible owners leave the poop on the ground for other people to enjoy. (My favorite way of enjoying such a treat would be by launching it in the general direction of the irresponsible owner.  Or there’s always the burning paper bag on the doorstep.)  Anyway, pet poop left outside eventually ends up in waterways, with negative effects on aquatic life and the health of the body of water.  Cat poo is particularly toxic and can infect water animals, like otters (which are cute), with a deadly brain disease.  Responsible owners pick up the poop, which usually makes its way to a trashcan, and then on to a landfill, where it gets buried, and then sits.  For years.  And years.

Our cute cuddly pets can also be ferocious predators.  Cats in particular, when left outside, are a serious threat to songbirds.

So, what’s a pet-lover to do?  Stay tuned for “Carbon pawprint – Part II.”

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