Straying too far? Professor says dogs and cats harm climate, advises hamsters instead

A UCLA professor who recommended replacing dogs and cats with more climate-friendly pets in the name of global warming may have bitten off more than he can chew.

His study, which found that dogs and cats have a significant impact on carbon emissions as a result of their meat-based diets, met with howls from pet owners and a lukewarm reception even from some environmentalists who also happen to love dogs.

Nil Zacharias, the founder of the digital media company One Green Planet, favors a plant-based diet, but as the owner of a 5-year-old Labrador mix named Goji, he said that asking people to give up their pets is unrealistic as well as problematic for the millions of shelter animals waiting for homes.

“You’re not going to see that happen,” Mr. Zacharias said. “I think dogs and cats, at least as long as they exist, are going to play an important role in our society and culturally, so I think telling people not to adopt cats and dogs would be irresponsible.”

In his paper published last week, UCLA professor Gregory S. Okin found that meat-eating dogs and cats create the equivalent of 64 million tons of carbon dioxide per year based on the energy consumption required to produce their food, or the same impact as driving 13.6 million cars.

“I like dogs and cats, and I’m definitely not recommending that people get rid of their pets or put them on a vegetarian diet, which would be unhealthy,” Mr. Okin said in a statement. “But I do think we should consider all the impacts that pets have so we can have an honest conversation about them. Pets have many benefits but also a huge environmental impact.”

The study comes with livestock, notably cows, already targeted by the environmental movement for their prodigious methane production, prompting calls for people to reduce their beef consumption in order to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

While Americans have long been known as the world’s biggest pet lovers, other countries are following suit as they become more affluent.

“Americans are the largest pet owners in the world, but the tradition of pet ownership in the U.S. has considerable costs,” Mr. Okin said in his Aug. 2 paper, published in PLOS One. “As pet ownership increases in some developing countries, especially China, and trends continue in pet food toward higher content and quality of meat, globally, pet ownership will compound the environmental impacts of human dietary choices.”

What’s the answer? Mr. Okin suggested making the transition from dogs and cats to smaller animals including hamsters, reptiles, and birds, or herbivores such as horses.

A July 12 study by researchers at Lund University in Sweden said the most dramatic way to reduce one’s carbon footprint is to have fewer children, while the San Francisco progressive group Having Kids recently called on the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to forgo a third child.

Challenging those recommendations was biochemist Leslie Eastman, who noted that predictions during the 1960s and 1970s of mass starvation from what biologist Paul Ehrlich described as the “population bomb” failed to pan out.

Today’s climate change alarmists are just as wrong, Ms. Eastman said on Legal Insurrection. “So enjoy your pets, because UCLA researchers are barking up the wrong tree.”

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Comments (6)

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    Spurwing Plover

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    Just another liberal university knukleheaded moron carrying out a stupid study and if this jerk thinks all pets should go vegan over this global warming/climate change poppycock then this nit-wit needs to have their head examened

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    john from Michigan

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    Where to they keep coming up with these people in California. Prof. Okin seems to be totally unaware of the millions of animals in the world that have a meat filled diet, such as wolves, foxes, coyotes, dingos, lions, tigers, ocelots, pumas, wildcats, cheetahs, lynxes, hawks, eagles, vultures, sharks, orcas, snakes, possums, and, occasionally, chimpanzees.
    It appears that his singling out domestic pets would be because he has a different agenda and is using this study to support that agenda. (Either that or he’s not very bright, which I doubt.)

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    Amber

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    Why not replace some UCLA professors that clearly have nothing to do . Why would anyone go to UCLA ?

    Reply

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    Amber

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    Why not replace some UCLA professors that clearly have nothing to do . Why would anyone go to UCLA ? Behind every global warmy fear monger is a population control freak . Obama hired these losers .

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    The Rick

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    I read a paper stating Professors have a greater impact on the environment and hence climate change over and above that of cats and dogs. The heating and cooling of their homes, mild to moderate amounts of meat they require for their diet, the wine they consume, the cars they drive, the plane tickets for attending conferences, the heating of their swimming pools – the list went on but the details escape me for the minute…The paper concludes doing away with Professors to ‘save the planet from climate change’.

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      G

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      On that same note, liberal professors are emblematic of the leftist notion that everything they do is having a dramatic and positive effect on our environment. If they buy one package of food labeled as “green” they are sure they have saved an endangered species somewhere. If they drive a Prius or a Subaru they are certain that they have held off climate Armageddon for a few more months. If they refuse a paper bag, they have preserved a forest that could never regenerate. If they drink a latte sourced with fair trade coffee they are convinced they have somehow saved a village from capitalism. The sense of smug, self-congratulatory hubris is never ending.

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