Or you could just let Obama eat them.
Last week President Obama announced a historic climate change agreement with Chinese president Xi Jinping. Aimed at drastically curtailing carbon emissions into the atmosphere, the goal is to rein in the carbon footprints of the planet’s two major polluters, the U.S. and China.
I wonder if the agreement contains anything about carbon paw prints. While humans and their ravenous appetite for growth remain the primary drivers of climate change and the accompanying specter of climate catastrophe, pets have a surprising negative impact of their own. Bowser and Mittens may be your best friends, but with around one billion pet dogs and cats in the world, eating billions of pounds of canned meat a year producing half a billion pounds of waste daily, Mother Nature might just consider them to be—after humans—Public Enemy Number Two.
Cats and dogs eat meat-based diets, and we all know that is the most energy intensive diet there is. Then there is the staggering amount of bacteria-laden fecal material these beloved creatures produce. American dogs alone are responsible for 10 million tons of waste a year. Can anything be done to make our pets more planet-friendly?
The Carbon Paw Print
You consider yourself an environmentalist and are considering ditching that gas-guzzling SUV you bought a few years ago in order to reduce your carbon footprint. You might want to think of ditching Bowser instead. An average-sized dog consumes about 360 pounds of meat in a year and about 210 pounds of cereal. Taking into account the amount of land it takes to generate that amount of food and the energy used, that makes your dog quite the carbon hound. A 2009 study by New Zealand’s Victoria University of Wellington concluded that pet dogs have carbon paw prints double that of a typical SUV. John Barrett of the Stockholm Environment Institute, in York, Great Britain, confirmed the results of the New Zealand study. “Owning a dog really is quite an extravagance, mainly because of the carbon footprint of meat,” Barrett told New Scientist Magazine.