Skip Navigation

Will You Eat Dog Food to Fight Climate Change?

September 13, 2017

A recent study by researchers at the University of California Los Angeles examines the impact the family dog or cat has on greenhouse-gas emissions.

A recent study by researchers at the University of California Los Angeles examines the impact the family dog or cat has on greenhouse-gas emissions. According to the study’s conclusion, dogs and cats are significant contributors of these allegedly dangerous gases, due to their meat-heavy diets. To combat climate change, the researchers recommend people trade in their dogs and cats for rodents and reptiles, which have a smaller carbon footprint. The study’s authors also argue humans could consume pet food as a source of protein to reduce emissions even further.

While few people are likely to surrender their family pets or switch from Kobe beef to Kibbles ‘n Bits in the name of fighting climate change, studies such as these help demonstrate how utterly joyless life would become if humans were to prioritize cutting carbon-dioxide and methane emissions without any regard to the social and emotional costs incurred. Even worse, the sacrifices radical environmentalists have called for would provide no discernable environmental benefits.

The American Pet Products Association claims the United States has the largest population of dogs and cats in the world; in 2015, there were an estimated 77.8 million dogs and 85.6 million cats in America. According to the UCLA study, these animals are believed to generate approximately 64 million tons of carbon dioxide every year, about 1 percent of the 6,578 million metric tons emitted in the country annually. (This is the equivalent of 13 million cars driving in a year.)

Cutting all these pet-created greenhouse-gas emissions would deliver an estimated 0.0012 degree Celsius reduction in potential future warming by 2100, an amount far too small to notice with even the most sophisticated scientific equipment.

Call me crazy, but cuddling on the couch with a goldfish or a snake just doesn’t sound as appealing as watching Netflix with a dog or cat on our laps.

Climate alarmists’ useless calls for change and policy suggestions aren’t limited to Americans’ furry friends, either. The Clean Power Plan, the signature climate change regulation imposed by the Obama administration, would have been similarly inconsequential. Before effectively being killed by the Trump administration, CPP regulations were meant to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions released by power plants by 32 percent of their 2005 levels by 2030. By increasing the cost of doing business in the United States, CPP would have caused electricity prices to rise by as much as 14 percent annually and cost 224,000 people their jobs every year.

The climate models used by the Environmental Protection Agency to justify these regulations concluded that complying with CPP would avert only .018 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100, which is also too small to be detected by advanced scientific equipment. In fact, even if greenhouse-gas emissions in the United States were reduced to zero, it would only potentially reduce future global temperature by 0.137 degrees Celsius by 2100.

Our energy and environmental policies should be based on realistic cost-benefit analyses, and it’s obvious that the potential benefits of ridding society of dogs and cats in an attempt to avert a tiny fraction of 1 degree Celsius of future warming do not outweigh the costs. Don’t believe me? Ask the 60 percent of U.S. households with pets whether they would give up owning their pets for something that can’t even be measured accurately.

[Originally Published at the Orange County Register]

Author
Isaac Orr is a research fellow for energy and environment policy at The Heartland Institute. Orr is a speaker, researcher, and writer specializing in hydraulic fracturing, frac sand mining, agricultural, and environmental policy issues.
iorr@heartland.org