Sunday, October 25, 2009
Eat Your Dog and Cat
Having lived in China and having eaten dog, the above title is not something that repels me. I ate dog several times, including my last meal in China and found the meat to be quite sweet and tasty, especially in a stew. I looked for but didn't find, a place to serve kitty (I was told that they existed), so I missed the exquisite culinary delight of eating a feline, although my pet cat, shown above, is plumping up quite well. Sadly, I doubt I can find anywhere in the US to serve up a claw and claw dish (crab and kitty sounds yummy).
So what does this have to do with global warming? The latest scary story from the environmental hysteriacs is the environmental impact of your dog and cat. Feeding our pets, it seems uses energy and land all of which produce a carbon footprint. Yes, you are a guilty resource hog if you have a cat. New Scientist says it this way,
"According to the authors of the new book, Time to Eat the Dog, it takes 0.84 hectares of land to keep a medium-sized dog fed. In contrast, running a 4.6-litre Toyota Land Cruiser, including the energy required to construct the thing and drive it 10,000 kilometers a year requires 0.41 hectares. Dogs are not the only environmental sinners. The eco-footprint of a cat equates to that of a Volkswagen Golf."
"If that's troubling, there is an even more shocking comparision. In 2004, the average citizen of Vietnam had an ecological footprint of 0.76 hectares. For an Ethiopian, it was just 0.67 hectares. In a world where scarce resources are already hogged by the rich, can we really justify keeping pets that take more than some people?" Anonymous, "Cute, Fluffy and Horribly Greedy," New Scientist, Oct 24, 2009, p. 5
It seems that the editors of the New Scientist think we should all live the lives of the typical Ethiopian. While I have never figured out how my moving into a hut helps the Ethiopian move out of his, I know that the editors at New Scientist have it all figured out, they are scientists, after all and we can trust them. I can see the property values in their London neighborhoods falling as they dash to sell their houses and move into that oh-so-wonderful life in a thatched-roofed hut, never knowing where your next meal is coming from. How idyllic,living a life without medicine, roads or air conditioning (not to mention no deodorant) and no dental care. Yes, just imagine kissing your spouse with 30 years of accumulated morning mouth. What joy.
Speaking of joy, I would love to be there when they tell their wives and girl friends that they must now cohabit in a hut in Ethiopia, where they will swat away tse-tse flies, and fight off jackals and hyaenas. What joy shall fill the hearts of their wives and children. How grateful they will be to know that they no longer have a closet for their shoes while they save the planet. No more will they have to shop at Harrod's or walk past that gaudy Di and Dody memorial on their way to more boring, burdensome shopping to keep up with the Jones'. While I think the goal actually should be to give the Ethiopians the tools with which to raise their standard of living and join those plumpish, if hypocritically challenged, editors at New Scientist, no doubt the editor's spouses will see things differently than I and gladly move to Ethiopia, the ecological Eden, with its fresh air and sunshine.
John Barrett, a UK environmentalist, is quoted in the relevant article saying,
"Owning a dog really is quite an extravagance, mainly because of the carbon footrpint of meat," Kate Ravilious, "How Green is Your Pet?" New Scientist, Oct 24, 2009, p. 46
Yep, your pet is melting the glaciers. I always suspected as much. It isn't CO2 killing the planet, it is Fido, Tweety-pie, and Garfield. And they do it in more ways that you can imagine. If only we didn't have pets, the seas would drop and glaciers would return.
The article referred to by the editors contains the following little guilt trip for you cat owners.
"Another major environmental problem in urban areas, is pet faeces. A study carried out in Nashville, Tennessee, indicated that it is a significant cause of high bacterial levels in local rivers and streams, particularly after heavy rain. As well as making the water unsafe to drink, high bacterial levels can starve waterways of oxygen and kill aquatic life."
"Cat excrement is particularly toxic. In 2002, it emerged that sea otters along the Californian coast are dying from a brain disease caused by Toxoplama gondii. The parasite, which is found in cat faeces, ends up in rivers and estuaries thanks to cat owners who flush their cat litter down the toilet or allow their cats to defecate outside. Dophins and whales are also affected." Kate Ravilious, "How Green is Your Pet?" New Scientist, Oct 24, 2009, p. 47.
Let's take the first paragraph first. Yes, if it weren't for your dogs dumping on your neighbor's yard as you walk him each morning, the lakes and streams all across America would be pristine pure and drinkable as they once were before man appeared on the planet. We could retire all those water treatment plants because there would be no bacteria in the waters, if only man with his best friend didn't bespoil them. The author of this article must know something about poop that the rest of us don't know. Apparently the poop of deer, bunny rabbits, birds, skunks, otter, coyotes, wolves and all sorts of other wild animals that defecate outdoors, contains zero bacteria. Shoot, we can use their bacteria-free poop to clean our kitchen counters. A good self-respecting deer would never allow a bacteria to be pooped out of his behind, deer being far too fastidious and sanitary for such garish behavior. And should the coyote dung chance to contain a single bacteria, it would, of course, NEVER wash down into the lakes or rivers. No, only pet poop causes high bacterial levels in the lakes and rivers, bacteria knowing that it is totally uncouth to flow into the rivers if it didn't come out the backside of a pet. Wild animals aren't and can't be the problem, you are. You and your bad-breath dog. I strongly suspect that if only Fido's mouth smelled better his poop would lack bacteria, so brush his teeth every day. And no doubt, the author of that article knows that fish poop is equally lacking in bacteria. Fish would never defecate outdoors either. They love the earth too much to do THAT! (Besides, it really is rude to poop in sight of other animals.).
I didn't mention cattle in the above discussion of poop-fest. The enviro-hysteriacs don't like cattle at all and would claim that their poop is worse than anything else. If only man hadn't gotten involved, bringing those germy cattle from Europe. The native grazers, the tens of millions of bison that roamed the plains before mankind arrived on this continent never engaged in outdoor defecation. We have heard the stories of bison herds taking days to pass a given point (before evil humans nearly killed them all). What those lines were were the lines for the loo. Like good Brits, they all qued up for the loo (several days away), and they all took their turns pooping indoors into proper facilities. Yep, that was clearly better than what cows do. Owning a ranch, I can tell you that even a small herd of bovines can produce quite a bacterial mess into which one will step if one is not careful. Maybe I should get some of those house-broken buffalo instead.
Now lets look at the cat problem. She blames the otter problem on cats, particularly on pet owners. Yep, you owners are the problem. There are .713 cats per household in the US. That means that there are 81 million household cats according to a formula found here.
That same formulation gives 250 million total cats, most are feral and are not pets. Given the 12 million households in California it means that that state has about 26 million cats. Of course, the enviro-hysteriacs don't mention the feces of the feral cats, who also defecate outdoors, due to their sad inability to learn the proper use of a toilet and their inability to carry 30 lb bags of Fresh Step back to their liter boxes in the woods. No, the fault is entirely with the pet owner; not the feral kitties, whose poop never contains Toxoplasma, a disease most certainly (if I am inferring from the article correctly) only of pet cats.
Another little fact that the article fails to tell its readers is that 10-20% of humans are infected with Toxoplasma. We don't get it from cats directly, or at least we don't most often get it from cats directly. We get it from eating raw meat or unwashed fruit. Now, given this, lets re-look at the Toxoplasma problem of the otters. If 15% of Californians are infected (given the general nutty-ness out there, I suspect it is more like 30%), then 5.5 million people are pooping Toxoplasma into the toilets (or are defecating outdoors), thus bringing this plague to the otters. I wouldn't rule out the possibility that during the night, millions of Californians are emerging into the dark to defecate outdoors, thus killing the otters. To solve this problem, I suggest that all the infected Californians no longer flush their toilets. Stop right now in order to save the earth! It is, after all your duty. It is such a small sacrifice that you make for the good of us all.
In honor of all you infected Californians who are sacrificing the flushing of their toilets so that the otters may live, I, too, shall make a sacrifice. I will eat my cat--for the good of the world, you understand, all for the saving of our planet.
HERE KITTY, KITTY. COME KITTY KITTY. ITS DINNER TIME!