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Pets Play Major Role in Increasing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

by VR Sreeraman on October 26, 2009 at 2:56 PM
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 Pets Play Major Role in Increasing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

In a new research, scientists have determined that pets can play a large part in increasing greenhouse gas emissions, with calculations indicating that a Land Cruiser's eco-footprint being about 0.41 hectares, which is less than half that of a medium-sized dog.

According to a report in New Scientist, the research was done by Robert and Brenda Vale, two architects who specialise in sustainable living at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand.

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As well as guzzling resources, cats and dogs devastate wildlife populations, spread disease and add to pollution.

To measure the ecological paw, claw and fin-prints of the family pet, the Vales analysed the ingredients of common brands of pet food.

They calculated, for example, that a medium-sized dog would consume 90 grams of meat and 156 grams of cereals daily in its recommended 300-gram portion of dried dog food.
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At its pre-dried weight, that equates to 450 grams of fresh meat and 260 grams of cereal.

That means that over the course of a year, Fido wolfs down about 164 kilograms of meat and 95 kilograms of cereals.

It takes 43.3 square metres of land to generate 1 kilogram of chicken per year - far more for beef and lamb - and 13.4 square metres to generate a kilogram of cereals. So that gives him a footprint of 0.84 hectares.

For a big dog such as a German shepherd, the figure is 1.1 hectares.

Meanwhile, an SUV, driven a modest 10,000 kilometres a year, uses 55.1 gigajoules, which includes the energy required both to fuel and to build it.

The Vales used a 4.6-litre Toyota Land Cruiser in their comparison.

One hectare of land can produce approximately 135 gigajoules of energy per year, so the Land Cruiser's eco-footprint is about 0.41 hectares - less than half that of a medium-sized dog.

Doing similar calculations for a variety of pets and their foods, the Vales found that cats have an eco-footprint of about 0.15 hectares (slightly less than a Volkswagen Golf), hamsters come in at 0.014 hectares apiece and canaries half that.

Even a goldfish requires 0.00034 hectares (3.4 square metres) of land to sustain it, giving it an ecological fin-print equal to two cellphones.

The Vales suggest that eco-friendly animal lovers should change the diet of their pet. Meat is the key, since its production is so energy-intensive.

They can almost halve the eco-pawprint of their dogs, simply by feeding it many of the same sort of savory foods that they eat, which are likely to be far less protein-rich than most dog foods, they added.

Source: ANI
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