Time to Eat the Dog

That’s the title of a new book by Robert and Brenda Vale.  I’m not sure if it is available in the U.S., but did find it on Amazon in the UK.  Here is an article about the book.

The book says your pet dog has a bigger carbon footprint than your SUV, even when you include the enargy required to build the car.  Cats do a little bit better, but even a pair of hampsters has the carbon footprint of a plasma TV.  A goldfish uses the energy equivalent of two mobile phones.

Here’s something to talk about with your environmentalist friends when they drive their Priuses home to feed their dogs.  No true environmentalist should have pets of any kind.  Driving a Prius — or even a bike — doesn’t help as much as owning a dog hurts.  (I don’t buy into this, by the way.  I have two dogs and three cats, or the environmental impact to two SUVs and three Volkswagen Golfs.)

I haven’t actually seen the book, so I’m wondering what the Vales have to say about animals people are supporting, but not keeping as pets.  For example, here in Florida there has been a major effort to reintroduce the Florida panther into the state.  How big is the carbon footprint of a Florida panther?

And America’s largest landowner, Ted Turner, owns a herd of 45,000 buffalo.  Buffalo aren’t carnivores, so one buffalo probably doesn’t have a carbon footprint as large as one panther, but still, a herd of 45,000 must have a pretty big carbon footprint, not to mention all the methane they’re adding to our greenhouse gasses.  Mr. Turner owns a very nice Bombardier CL-600 jet, but the carbon footprint of his jet must be tiny compared to that of his buffalo herd.

One difference between your dog and Mr. Turner’s buffalo is that people actually do eat his buffalo, so I’m not accusing Mr. Turner of anything here.  I’m still wondering about those pet-loving environmentalists who advocate reintroducing panthers, wolves, and other high-carbon-footprint predators into the environment, though.  Was there any discussion about this in Copenhagen?

Randall G. Holcombe is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University. His Independent books include Housing America: Building Out of a Crisis (edited with Benjamin Powell); and Writing Off Ideas: Taxation, Foundations, and Philanthropy in America .
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