The Null Device
Two New Zealand academics who specialise in sustainability claim that keeping pets has a catastrophic carbon footprint. In a book titled Time To Eat The Dog?, Professors Brenda and Robert Vale claim that a medium-sized dog has the carbon footprint of two SUVs driven 10,000km in a year, a cat is slightly less environmentally damaging than a Volkswagen Golf, and two hamsters are equivalent to a plasma TV (though, alas, wouldn't generate nearly enough electricity to actually power one).
"If you have a German shepherd or similar-sized dog, for example, its impact every year is exactly the same as driving a large car around," Brenda Vale said.The sustainable thing, the Vales claim, would be to only keep animals you intend to eat:
"The title of the book is a little bit of a shock tactic, I think, but though we are not advocating eating anyone's pet cat or dog there is certainly some truth in the fact that if we have edible pets like chickens for their eggs and meat, and rabbits and pigs, we will be compensating for the impact of other things on our environment."
Professor Vale took her message to Wellington City Council last year, but councillors said banning traditional pets or letting people keep food animals in their homes were not acceptable options.
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I wish them luck in their endeavour; they'll certainly need it.