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Study finds dogs have larger carbon footprint than SUVs

by Ronan Glon

Each year the average dog uses up 50 percent more energy than a SUV.

Robert and Brenda Vale, two researchers from Victoria University in New Zealand, have released a study that claims dogs have a larger carbon footprint than gas-guzzling SUVs.

The Vale couple reached that somewhat surprising conclusion by calculating how much land it takes to generate enough food to feed a dog for a year.

They found that the average mid-size dog eats 3.17 ounces of meat and 5.5 ounces of grain in a 10.5-ounce serving of dry dog food. That takes about 2.07 acres of land to generate each year.

The Vale couple then pitted the average dog against their 4.6-liter V8-powered Toyota Land Cruiser. They calculated that if they drive the SUV about 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles) a year it uses about 55.1 gigajoules of energy annually, a number which equates to 1.1 acres of land per year, or 50 percent less than the carbon footprint of a dog.

"We're not saying that we think SUVs are a good idea," said Robert, "but we do find it interesting how they have been vilified for their damage to the environment while pets have been completely ignored."

The couple used the aforementioned formula to calculate the carbon footprint of the average cat and found that it is similar to that of a Volkswagen Golf. They also measured the impact of a hamster, which is similar to that of a flat screen TV, and the impact of a goldfish, which is on par with the footprint of a cell phone.

Mr. and Mrs. Vale have published a book based on their findings which is titled "Time to Eat the Dog?"

Photo by Mael Glon.