EDITORIAL: Eat your pets, save the planet

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Want to save the planet? Kill your pets. Or better yet, eat them. This radical new suggestion comes from New Zealand professors Brenda and Robert Vale, architects who specialize in sustainable living. Their research has found that pets create tremendous strains on the environment and that a truly green world would have no place for these carbon-emitting parasites.

The Vale duo found that a medium-size dog has a carbon “pawprint” equal to that of about two Toyota Land Cruisers. A cat has almost the same environmental impact as a Volkswagen Golf, and two hamsters somehow equal a plasma TV.

Consider the implications. There were 136 million passenger cars in the United States in 2007, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Getting rid of the country’s 73 million dogs would be the equivalent of eliminating the entire passenger-car fleet. Exterminating the 90 million pet cats would more than offset the national bus fleet, assuming a generous 100-cats-per-bus exchange rate. It sounds like a reasonable proposal for the greener-than-thou.

Because existing cats and dogs represent sunk carbon costs, the Vales suggest that eating our pets would be more efficient than just burying them. Hence the title of their new book: “Time to Eat the Dog? The Real Guide to Sustainable Living.” These would-be liquidators recommend that after the canine and feline genocide, those who still require pets for companionship raise chickens, rabbits and other more appetizing animals, although of course, hard-core greens have long advocated giving up meat altogether.

The problem does not end with carbon pawprints. Dogs create 10 million tons of doo-doo per year, a portion of which winds up in landfills. Cats are even more problematic because clay-based kitty litter is not biodegradable; it is already in its final stage of decomposition, and the bentonite clay on which most kitty litter is based is produced by strip mining. So perfectly good soil is being sacrificed to produce material on which cats can defecate. This is further proof that kitties are an environmental nightmare, as many have long suspected.

Yet Americans will have to do a lot more than simply slaughter their pets to save the planet. A 2008 Massachusetts Institute of Technology study found that the average American has five times the carbon footprint of the global mean. Even the American homeless impose double the average burden on the world.

So, even if we adopt homeless, petless lifestyles, we still would be major carbon offenders in the eyes of the green theocracy.

Of course, these notions are really only a concern for those who take them seriously, which we do not. A pet’s value, like the worth of a human being, cannot be reduced to a rude carbon quotient. Pets provide pleasure and companionship, instill a sense of purpose and are proven to extend human life. Those who believe that we were placed on Earth to live full and enjoyable lives have no problem with our furry little friends. They make us happy; that is enough to justify their existence.

We might never have known about the pet threat had it not been for the “carbon footprint” concept, a standardized measure that makes all manner of things fungible. It has been popularized by eco-hypocrites like Al Gore, who probably has the world’s largest carbon footprint and has grown wealthy exploiting human fear and gullibility.

For green pet owners, the Vale study is just one more reason to feel guilty. Serves you right. And by the way, that African coffee you are drinking probably was grown on plantations carved out of elephant habitat. We just thought you’d like to know.

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