Sunday, 15 July 2012

Carbon emissions; dogs or SUVs

I heard about this from QI, but wanted to look further. I found an interesting article, the link is at the end. Are dogs worse for the environment than SUVs? You'll find a number of sources trumpeting the widely publicized results from New Zealand researchers, concluding that yes, dogs are worse for the planet than SUVs. But don't kick out the hound quite yet and head for the Hummer dealership; according to the Seattle-based Sightline Institute, the research is very flawed in many respects. Robert and Brenda Vale, of Victoria University in Wellington, have claimed that a mid-size dog has a larger eco-footprint than a large luxury SUV (in their calculations, a Toyota Land Cruiser V-8). They argue that a medium-size dog consumes 90 grams of meat and 156 grams of cereals daily, resulting in a footprint of 0.84 hectares, while a Toyota Land Cruiser uses 55.1 gigajoules yearly, equating to a footprint of about 0.41 hectares. However, they make some questionable assumptions—first off ignoring that dog food is mostly byproducts that might not otherwise be used in the human food chain; then by assuming that the vehicle will only be driven 10,000 km (about 6,200 miles) annually. According to the Department of Energy, the true U.S. average is more than twice that, at 13,700 miles. Sightline also points to a number of ways in which the energy the SUV uses—supposedly including the cost of manufacture—was severely underestimated, with the true figure about three times what they give, before including indirect impact like roads, bridges, and fuel infrastructure. New Scientist also points to the icky issue of pet feces, which causes elevated bacteria levels in rivers and streams. But there was another environmental aspect not included on the SUV side of the researchers' calculation: tailpipe emissions. So are our precious pooches only speeding up climate change and planetary doom? Can you feel better about the guzzler in the driveway because you don't have a dog? As usual, moderation is probably the better answer instead of these silly one-versus-the-other calculations. Just as car-sharing is a viable solution for some drivers, New Scientist suggests pet-sharing as one way to enjoy companionship while reducing your footprint.   http://www.thecarconnection.com/news/1037931_do-dogs-leave-a-larger-footprint-than-suvsi [New Scientist; Sightline Institute]

8 comments:

howard thomas said...

Surely you have to have a laugh about this ! Lets be honest, you can make any case you want to if the input is questionable then the output is likely to be questionable garbage.
Just for the record..........I have 2 dogs at the moment........both big ones!

howard thomas said...

Incidentally I wonder how that sort of thinking applies to the human population

Adrian Windisch said...

Measuring emissions is fairly basic, do you think all science is fake?

You also had a submatine/ boat and truck. How are they.

I dont think you answered my previous question about ypur general election expenses. Im curious what the submarines cost

howard thomas said...

Why would you be curious? Do you fancy a green one and like to know how much to put aside?
Lighten up Adrian.......surely you can see the funny side of comparing a medium sized dog to an SUV........you point out the 'questionable assumptions' regarding mileage and other uses or not for dog food!
Think about it.

Adrian Windisch said...

You said you would answer the question and I would like to see the answer. I dout I would want one myself but perhaps others might.

Speaking generally; Elections are not really level playing fields when some parties spend many times what others do. The wealthy get in fairly easily in many cases but dont really represent the rest of us.

howard thomas said...

Elections in this country are very much about 'donkeys' wearing red or blue rosettes. Lets be honest .....in the vast majority of seats a donkey would win !
Incidentally , what do you think of Switzerland's system of referendums? Personally I think such a system is a great way to keep governments in order.
You might note that its not the cost of something that counts, but the cost of using such an item that matters.

Adrian Windisch said...

I like referendums, though there is a cost.

Still hoping for an answer as you promised.

The likes if Zac Goldsmith can outspend any rival gives him a big advantage. The wealthy are overrepresented.

howard thomas said...

The referendum idea seems to work well in Switerland which appear to be held on just one day as a rule with several questions asked, the results being binding on the government.
It takes 100,000 people to sign up to call for a referendum. Bearing in mind their 7.7 million poulation it would need a million signatures in the UK.
However such a system would prevent the elected dictatorship type of government that we have now from breaking their promises and introducing policies that we have never previously heard of.