News & Media Opinion Pieces Carbon pawprints?

Carbon pawprints?

People around the world are worrying about their carbon footprint. But what about their furry friends’ carbon pawprints?


Guy Pearse, well known for his writing exposing the links between Australian political parties and the ‘greenhouse mafia’ has recently released a new book, Greenwash: Big Brands and Carbon Scams – published by Black Inc.


The book outlines the way in which major companies are greenwashing their products to seduce consumers, effectively facilitating increased ‘green’ consumption.


The extract below focuses on the pet industry and has been published here under the creative commons, for the full article see:


Consider the numbers: there are currently around 1 billion pet cats and dogs worldwide (not to mention hundreds of millions of stray ones), and pet ownership rates are vastly higher in western countries. About 40% of US households own at least one dog, compared with about 6% of Chinese homes.

However, the gap is closing fast, as the number of pets and the demand for food and other goodies in developing countries spiral. In India, dog ownership is growing annually at double digit rates, while in Vietnam and Thailand, the number of dog owners increased by around 50% between 2004 and 2007.

The ecological consequences of pets are significant when you consider the land needed to produce the energy and resources required for a large dog are equivalent to that of a four-wheel drive Land Rover; a medium dog is equivalent­ to a VW Golf. Or so say Brenda and Robert Vale, authors of the provocatively titled Time to Eat the Dog. Among many reason­able observations they note that we face real problems “when everyone starts to have a big car, big house, big family and a big dog”. They also note that many pets in the west have larger ecological­ footprints than humans in some developing countries.

So, while the rising population of pets is significant enough, the rising affluence of pets is also important. The range of products and services hitting the market and encouraging pet owners to humanise their pets is staggering. There are dog houses with reverse-cycle air conditioning, some with flat screen TVs, and there are DVDs specifically catering to the tastes of different animals.