Following on the heels of the climate change summit in Copenhagen, the Agence France-Presse newswire reports that two New Zealand researchers have identified a major source of carbon emissions – our pets. Specifically, the researchers have their eyes on Fido:
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 4×4 driving 10,000 kilometres (6,200 miles) a year, including energy to build the car….
"Owning a dog really is quite an extravagance, mainly because of the carbon footprint of meat," [Stockholm Environment Institute’s John] Barrett said.
So what’s the solution to “offsetting” these emissions? According the research’s authors, one answer is to chow down on our pets. One of the researchers morbidly advises: “Rabbits are good, provided you eat them.”
But don’t get out the hamster-sized deep fryer just yet. These researchers’ calculations rely on the assertion that meat—that is, the animal agriculture process—has an abnormally large carbon footprint. But as we’ve pointed out when activists like Paul McCartney use climate change arguments to promote a meatless agendas, the EPA’s own greenhouse gas inventory shows domestic livestock production accounts for less than 3 percent of U.S. emissions. Feeding our beloved puppies and kittens isn’t as bad for the environment after all.
A French animal rights organization is also objecting to the human elimination of pets, noting the mental and emotional benefits of pet ownership. And while it may not happen very often – sacre bleu! – we’re inclined to agree with them. For the environmentally concerned, we can reduce emissions by spreading the use of efficient livestock farming practices. At the very least, that’s a whole lot more appetizing than the alternative.