I have been hearing about this book “Time to Eat the Dog?” that, as I understand it, goes into the carbon footprint of the pets we share our lives with. According to this book, a medium size dog has a greater carbon footprint than an average SUV. The conclusion, presumably selected for its shock value, is that we should only keep animals if we plan on eating them. I’ve found a fair number of articles on line, including this one on the BBC site, that take this proposal at least somewhat seriously.
I personally think that my cats and, when I had them, dogs were pretty darned important parts of my life. So my “shock value” proposal is a bit different: I suggest we start eating our neighbours…
Think about it for a minute. There are 100 million or so pets in North America, but easily 350 million humans. The food calorie values consumed by each human are nominally twice the values consumed by a cat or dog of equivalent mass. Doing some quick math (about the same kind of math as done in the aforementioned book) the energy savings of consuming 175 million of those humans (about half) would have three to four times the value of consuming our pets. 300% better return for the effort!
But wait, there’s more to my proposal. Unlike a cat or dog, each human has an absolutely vast impact on the resources and carbon production within the environment. Humans buy VCRs and iPods, drive cars, heat their houses: we are, without a question or doubt, by far the the greatest carbon impact in the environment. Conservatively, I’d propose that each person removed from the environment would have ten times the impact of their food consumption value alone. So each person you eat is worth 10 times the value in terms of reducing carbon impact of an equivalent weight pet, and since humans generally weigh over twice as much as the average pet, we are talking 20 times the value per “unit” consumed- again, being conservative. Time to fire up the (solar powered) barbecue and get the rotisserie going!
Am I seriously suggesting we start chowing down on our neighbours? No, I guess not: for one thing, I don’t like that much fat in my meat, and the average North American is pretty… rotund- myself included. However, I do think that seven billion of us is probably three or four billion more than necessary. Our genetic imperative to spawn multiples of ourselves is at odds with our constrained living space. And it is time to set aside those lizard-brain drives to “be fruitful and multiply” before we are crushed beneath the effluvia of our own unimpeded breeding.
The number one most effective way to reduce the impact of humanity on the environment is simple and obvious: birth control. Reduce net population growth to zero globally. Begin the long, slow process of reducing our populations to some more manageable level. Robert and Brenda Vale (authors of Time to Eat the Dog?) think they were courageous to propose eating the family pet, but the real courage would come from seriously proposing the true solution: reduce the human population.