Fido: Family Pet or Eco-Terrorist?
The other day, the cats, the dog and I were enjoying a rather stimulating debate over global warming. Is it fact or fallacy…or perhaps just a simple case of man’s ever inflating ego and his need to control his environment? The dog appeared puzzled…or perhaps she just wanted to go outside and take a poop. I’m forever getting the two mixed up because I am not fluent in Dog-speak. The cats’ response was unanimous and they fairly pounced on the word “man.” Frankie, the ragdoll, would have expounded further about how the woes of the world are always mankind’s fault, but I simply held up my hand and nipped that little tirade in the bud. I’ve heard it before…blah, blah, blah…
I allowed them a few moments of self-righteous smugness before I dropped the bombshell. “It seems that one of you is leaving a rather large carbon paw print. This beastie, who shall remain nameless, is less eco-friendly than Daddy’s diesel guzzling, hemi-powered, dually Dodge pick-up truck!” The dog breaks out into her typical imbecilic canine grin, her tail beating the carpet into submission in happiness. Puzzled by her response, I quickly review my accusation. Ahhh…perhaps it’s because I used the D-A-D-D-Y word.
To test my theory, I pause in our current discussion and probe the dog’s word recognition skills. “Da..Dee?” I say. Nacho wriggles her entire back end with joy. Skeptically, I eye her and decide that this would not be a true scientific experiment if I did not insert some sort of sugar pill word. Focusing all my attention on the dog, I coo…”Truck?” Sure enough, Nacho unplants her squirmy butt and proceeds to perform her doggy dance of joy.
Khan, the Siamese, is quick to point out that either word could be considered a source of pleasure and excitement for the pooch and that in order to determine whether the dog is truly a moron or not, we should introduce a non-pleasure inducing word. He has a valid point…as usual. I lean in closer to the mutt and using the same tone of voice previously employed, I say, “diesel?”
Khan gives a contemptuous snort as Nacho goes into doggy paroxysms of delight. “Let me guess…,” he says in his usual sardonic tone, “it’s the dog, isn’t it?”
Unfortunately, Khan is right…again. Little Nacho is not green.
According to New Zealanders, Robert and Brenda Vale, in their book “Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living,” Nacho is an undeniable environmental threat. She eats, she poops and except for playing a mean game of fetch…she’s rather useless. The Vale’s suggest off-setting the carbon paw print of the family dog by replacing it with a pet that could serve a dual purpose…like a chicken.
To be fair, I haven’t really read the book. I’ve gleaned bits and pieces from articles written about their work. In my humble opinion, judging from what I have learned, the Vale’s could have made a greater contribution to global ecology by sparing the trees upon which this rubbish was printed. Even if it was recycled paper…
I am not a scientist. Let’s just get that out of the way right off the bat. I’m a practical and economical soul. Things cost money…cars, fuel, houses, furniture…everything. It is in my best interest to conserve my finances and to this end, what I have I make last. I would never call myself a rampant consumer.
But just to put things in perspective, I decided to find out the size of my own carbon footprint before I started loading the truck with cats and dog to be carted off to the nearest Humane Society outlet for disposal. Or I should say returned. My pets are recycled animals…no new ones were created for my personal gratification.
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I have to admit, at first I was a bit confused by the information that I found. According to carbonfootprintonline.info a carbon footprint is defined as “the amount of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) that you and your business are putting into the environment.” For example, merely by existing (i.e. not taking into account my home, cars and air travel), I generate 4.99 tonnes of CO2 per year. However, in the book by Robert and Brenda Vale, this eco-footprint is measured in hectares, because their determination is based upon food consumption and the energy expended to produce these consumables.
Now I don’t know about your vehicle…but my husband’s truck does not run on kibble. And although it might make it easier for me to retire, the cats do not seem interested in entering the manufacturing industry at this point in their nine lives.
Apples and oranges…
Here is the comparison of my secondary footprint to that of the pets:
I eat a mix of white and red meat
Some of the food I buy or grow is organic
I never buy or grow organic food, or don't know what we buy
In Season Food
I try to buy or grow some in season food
I don't try to buy or grow in season food
Imported Food and Goods
I prefer to buy goods closer to home
I don't notice where goods come from
I buy new clothes when I need them
I only buy second hand clothes
I try and buy things with little packaging
I don't buy anything which has packaging around it
Furniture & Electricals
I only buy essential equipment and use it until it wears out
I only buy second hand furniture and appliances
Some of my waste is recycled
I don't recycle at all
I occasionally go out to places like the movies, bars or restaurants
I only do zero carbon activites (e.g. walk, run, sleep)
I own one car
I don't own a car
Finance and Other Services
I use the standard range of financial services
I don't even have a bank account
The cats and dog have a secondary paw print of only 2.14 tonnes of CO2, even despite their apparent disdain for recycling. Obviously, they have a more canny idea of how to be green than I do…so who’s the eco terrorist now?
Does this mean that our four-legged furry friends should be excused? Nah…but as pet owners we should be the ones taking responsibility for their impact upon the environment along with their general care. Does this mean that you need to atone for them by planting a tree in Kenya to offset that bag of Tidy Cat scoopable litter that you just bought? Perhaps…
Would I? Hell no. I’ll probably just sit here on my ass, armed with a squirt bottle so I can shoot the vermin when they eat the houseplants. Every little bit helps and the survival of my prized philodendron is my contribution.
Although some might consider my pets to be a self-indulgent luxury, they are my family…my children. I would never dream of pointing my finger at a mother or father and then have the unmitigated gall to suggest that they replace junior with a chicken simply because his diaper output makes him less than an ecological gem. However, should my six cats and dog cause anyone excessive worry please feel free to put them on my account. I have no problem with planting an entire forest to justify their existence.
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