Dogs cause more damage to our planet than SUVs, according to a controversial new book, Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living. The environmental footprint of an average "resource-guzzling" hound is twice that of a typical sport utility vehicle, say New Zealander researchers Robert and Brenda Vale, who note that a surprising amount of land is required to produce Fido's meals each year (roughly 2 acres). The book has caused a ruckus by saying people should go pet-free—and even consider eating strays. Have environmentalists gone too far?
So what is acceptable — pet millipedes? The green movement is becoming "progressively batty," says Ralph Reiland in The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. First we have to "shut down our oil, gas, and coal industries, bike to work," and take the briefest of showers. "Now they want us to cook our dogs"? Apparently, a pet "bug" is the only companion these "hysterical" activists would consider guilt-free.
"Gang Green going to the dogs"
The authors' research is sound: OK, eating our pets "is surely a non-starter," say the editors of New Scientist. But the Vales are right about the science: "Man’s best friend, it turns out, is the planet’s enemy." And while giving up Fido might be "a sacrifice too far," we can take smaller steps. The solution might start with "green, eco-friendly pet food."
"Cute, fluffy and horribly greedy"
You can’t quantify a pet's value: Even if we Americans were to adopt "petless lifestyles," says The Washington Times in an editorial, we’d still be "major carbon offenders in the eyes of the green theocracy." Anyone obsessed with sizing up "carbon pawprints" is missing the point: "A pet’s value, like the worth of a human being, cannot be reduced to a rude carbon quotient." They make us happy, and "that is enough to justify their existence."
"Eat your pets, save the planet"
Why not eat pets? "Dogs are wonderful," says Jonathan Safran Foer in The Wall Street Journal, but they’re not any smarter or more affectionate than pigs. In fact, unlike farmed meat, soon-to-be-put-down strays and runaway pets "are practically begging to be eaten" — and "in a sense," we’re already consuming them. Millions of euthanized cats and dogs are already "rendered" into livestock feed each year. Why not just eliminate this "inefficient…middle step"?
"Let them eat dog"
RELATED: For more on the environmental impact of dogs, see How green is your pet?