Another way to curb climate change: Get rid of your cats and dogs and buy a hamster.
UCLA professor Gregory S. Okin concluded in a study published last week that certain pets, specifically dogs and cats, have a “significant” impact on greenhouse-gas emissions as a result of their meat-based pet-food consumption and feces production.
What’s the answer? “Reducing the rate of dog and cat ownership, perhaps in favor of other pets that offer similar health and emotional benefits would considerably reduce these impacts,” Mr. Okin said in his study, “Environmental impacts of food consumption by dogs and cats,” which appeared Aug. 2 in the journal PLOS One.
For example, he suggested moving away from dogs and cats in favor of smaller animals like hamsters, reptiles and birds, or herbivores like horses.
His recommendations, which are likely to meet with resistance from the nation’s legions of dog-and-cat lovers, come with the climate-change movement increasingly jumping on the population-control bandwagon in the name of reducing emissions.
A July 12 study by researchers with Lund University in Sweden said that the most dramatic way to reduce one’s carbon footprint is to “have fewer children,” while the San Francisco progressive group Having Kids has called on Prince William and Princess Kate to forgo a third child.
Challenging those recommendations was biochemist Leslie Eastman, who noted that predictions during the 1960s and 1970s of mass global starvation from what biologist Paul Ehrlich described as the “population bomb” failed to pan out.
“And critics of climate change inanity are equally correct today,” Ms. Eastman said in a post on Legal Insurrection. “So enjoy your pets, because UCLA researchers are barking up the wrong tree.”
Americans lead the world in pet ownership at more than 163 million dogs and cats, but those numbers are increasing in countries such as China, which will “compound the environmental impacts of human dietary choices,” Mr. Okin said.
The study linked carbon emissions to meat production, which “has considerably greater impacts on water use, fossil fuel use, greenhouse gas emissions, fertilizer use, and pesticide use.”