A new book estimates that the climate change impact of pets is considerable:
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.
They compared this with the footprint of a Toyota Land Cruiser, driven 10,000km a year, which uses 55.1 gigajoules (the energy used to build and fuel it). One hectare of land can produce 135 gigajoules a year, which means the vehicle’s eco-footprint is 0.41ha – less than half of the dog’s.
They found cats have an eco-footprint of 0.15ha – slightly less than a Volkswagen Golf. Hamsters have a footprint of 0.014ha – keeping two of them is equivalent to owning a plasma TV.
Just another thing that needs to be tallied up when considering one’s individual climate impact. It is also another reason to support carbon pricing, such as through an economy-wide carbon tax. Such a tax would make people consider the climatic impact of their pets more appropriately, and possibly consider smaller and/or vegetarian options.
All that being said, having a pet is a lot less carbon intensive than having a child. For those out there who are using dachshunds or tabbies as alternatives to procreation, carry right along.