If the eco-conscious activists thought that not having children and instead having a pet meant they were doing their bit to save the planet, tough luck. The alarmists are coming for your dog too. Two authors in Vox, in a piece that is not figuratively but literally cartoonish, say Boots and Rex are “gobbling up the planet” and spewing the equivalent of 13 million cars’ worth of GHGs and poisoning rivers and killing fish and pooping out a mountain of waste that would embarrass the state of Maryland and you should get a snail or something you heartless beast. Good luck with that.
The Vox piece, by an author with a degree in “Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting” from NYU’s Journalism School, and a “one-time award-winning feral cartoonist“ and “Social Justice Bard” quotes Gregory Okin, a geographer at UCLA, raising again the vexed question of what constitutes a “climate scientist”. Saying global warming is a real manmade crisis requiring drastic action seems to work, though. For instance, that “Reducing the rate of dog and cat ownership, perhaps in favor of other pets that offer similar health and emotional benefits, would considerably reduce these impacts.” And what could be more heartwarming than a snake slithering into your lap carrying a slipper?
Of course some people bond with turtles or bugs and we have no desire to deprive them of their companions. But we’re going to fight for our own.
Not because we are especially concerned with the PR impacts. If we wanted to be popular, or at least seem cool, we would join the devotees of “St. Greta of the Hard Stare” as Rex Murphy just dubbed her. But there is an intellectual issue here worth pondering briefly. Namely that despite their professed admiration for nature alarmists in fact regard it as incredibly fragile.
In their nightmarish vision, the ecosystem is dominated by positive rather than negative feedback loops that mean even small changes trigger catastrophe. Including your dog dropping a log.
See, one problem with pets is that they poop. Indeed America’s 135 million cats and dogs (the Vox number; Okin says 163 million) supposedly expel the same amount of trash as 6.6 million humans. And there’s more, lots more. The Vox piece throws everything but the kitchen sink at your hideous, fume-belching, meat-scarfing, planet-destroying little vermin, including cat litter sometimes involving “strip mining”. And Okin has them emitting methane (and nitrous oxide) at a rate that would shame a Chinese coal mine.
The piece does concede that cats are obligate carnivores who cannot be forced to eat tofu. And that the main author has rather atavistically been kept sane during the pandemic partly by her new puppy. But your dog could apparently eat your leftovers (now there’s a novel idea… except to your dog who materializes in the kitchen every time you touch a plate) and “could even go… vegan.” Not least because in a lab somewhere “industry scientists are refining alternative proteins like koji (a fungus) and insects”. Meanwhile your cat could pee in some sawdust. Assuming you had great carbon-neutral sacks of the stuff about. And they want you to flush your dog’s products down the toilet if you call the city government and it says it doesn’t mind. Though surely even carnivore manure is biodegradable, as part of what used to be the Cycle of Life until these killjoys came along.
Before we take Fluffy off to the vet for painless disposal there is one more point we should make. It is remarkable how often scratching an environmentalist reveals a joyless control freak who wants to take away everything that makes life worth living, from your hamburger to the dog licking out the pan.
'Joyless control freak who wants to take away everything that makes life worth living'...my Chinese electric car-driving sister just posted how much she is enjoying a bill from the government for zero pounds, zero pence for annual road tax, so she spent £25,000 to save £200 a year...less than the insurance, maintenance, charging costs, and all the other costs of having a new car. Reality is that she will not keep the car long enough to pay off its carbon footprint, but I suppose I shouldn't rain in her parade...!
"It is remarkable how often scratching an environmentalist reveals a joyless control freak who wants to take away everything that makes life worth living, from your hamburger to the dog licking out the pan."
Or as H.L.Mencken defined Puritanism: the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy