Arnold Kling  

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The Dominion Post reports


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.

Thanks to a reader for the pointer (no pun intended).


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COMMENTS (14 to date)
Eric H writes:

And C4C--Cash for Canines--was born.

Paludicola writes:

If this is accurate, then one of my professors, who both loves dogs and harbors strong environmentalist sentiments, might be quite disheartened.

Steve R. writes:

"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."

43.3 square metres of land to produce 1kg of chicken may be a reasonable assumption if the main purpose of raising chickens is the production of dog food. Since dog food is made from rendered livestock parts I don't think this is reasonable. How do you calculate the eco-footprint of a by-product?

Or maybe I should read the original paper before assuming the assumptions are misguided.

Dr. T writes:

10,000 kilometers is only 6,200 miles, which is much less than average. Therefore, we should eat two pet dogs and a pet cat.

In some nations such as Korea and the Philippines, they do eat pet dogs.
Best Friend! -- Best Meal! (derived from the Less Filling! -- Tastes Great! beer ad)

fundamentalist writes:

The article compares just land usage. What about CO2 output? That's where I thought they were going. Pets give off quite a bit of the noxious gas, not to mention the methane exhaust!

The Snob writes:

Enough of this and global warming hair-shirtism may become last year's black. Pigovian solutions will lose their appeal once the urban elite have a dog in this fight.

Yancey Ward writes:

Plant a dog, save the planet.

jr writes:

One Dog Policy.

Or, one dog or one child, pick one!

Les writes:

This is a wonderful satire to illuminate the blunders of environmentalism.

John Thacker writes:
Since dog food is made from rendered livestock parts I don't think this is reasonable. How do you calculate the eco-footprint of a by-product?

Chicken gizzards, liver, neck, skin, and especially chicken hearts are absolutely delicious. It's sad to me that many (most?) Americans won't eat them and that they're used in dog food, but I guess it makes them cheaper for me. If dogs didn't eat them, their price would fall and either humans would consume them or other use could be made of them. Poultry offal can be composted, as a quick Internet search will verify.

Offal is one of those foods eaten by the poor (and small town and rural people) and the rich (and the most cosmopolitan) and immigrants but not the middle class (and suburban).

John Thacker writes:
Since dog food is made from rendered livestock parts I don't think this is reasonable. How do you calculate the eco-footprint of a by-product?

Assuming that chicken offal used for dog food would have no other use is not reasonable either. At the very least it can be composted, which is good for the environment, but it's also delicious for humans.

The study's assumptions are more reasonable than yours, IMO.

q writes:

what is this datum, selected in isolation, supposed to tell me?

having a dog is not cheap & people make choices based on cost between having a dog and some other choice that is also distressingly destructive environmentally.

ie this datum tells me nothing about whether dog ownership is good for the environment. what's your control, sitting in a dark cold room and hoarding the money you would have spent on the dog?

if there is a wink wink subtle undertone which is meant to say that environmentalists (whoever they are -- i don't see the relationship between dog owners and environmentalists as a class) don't understand their effect on the environment, why not just come out and make that point?

John Thacker writes:
what's your control, sitting in a dark cold room and hoarding the money you would have spent on the dog?

The control would appear to be using your money on buying the 4.6-litre Land Cruiser and driving it 10,000 kilometres a year, no? Is that not obvious? I actually think that that would be more expensive than the pet, but I don't know.

rpl writes:
ie this datum tells me nothing about whether dog ownership is good for the environment. what's your control, sitting in a dark cold room and hoarding the money you would have spent on the dog?
The issue here is not the monetary cost of dog ownership; it's the amount of greenhouse gases emitted. Even if owning a dog were completely free, there would still be an environmental cost to owning a dog.

The data tells you exactly the environmental cost of having a dog, at least from a global warming perspective (there are other dimensions of environmental costs, of course). The answer turns out to be roughly the same as the environmental cost of driving an SUV 12,000 miles a year (i.e., twice the cost of driving 10,000 km a year). The point a study like this is, most people would find it surprising that a lifestyle choice that doesn't involve buying a single drop of gasoline directly could have such a large CO2 footprint.

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