Most remedies for mitigating anthropogenic (man-made) climate change focus on reducing CO2 emissions. But CO2 emissions remain in the atmosphere for hundreds of years so even if we dramatically reduce CO2 emissions starting tomorrow we would still face the damaging effects of the CO2 we have already put into the atmosphere. Although we certainly need to do this we also need to implement short term solutions.
Methane, with a warming potential 72 times that of carbon dioxide over a 20 year time frame, having a half-life of only 7 years. The greatest source of Methane is livestock.She has also done a relentless job in this series repeatedly pointing out the greatest single thing an individual can do to reduce these shorter-lived climate forcers is to reduce their consumption of meat. She has persuaded this household to dramatically reduce its meat consumption by adopting the 90/10 percent eating rule. Starting in January we have begun to basically eat vegan 90% of the time while leaving ourselves flexibility to eat freely when invited over to friends for dinner or when eating out at restaurants. Besides, I also want to leave myself the freedom to have fresh salmon or halibut once in a while. As in all things, I believe a balanced approach is best for long term adherence.
Black carbon , an intense heating agent in the air and particularly when on ice and snow. Black carbon emissions are responsible for as much as 40% of the net global warming However, they remain in the atmosphere from only one to four weeks . Greatest source of Black carbon is anthropologic open fire set to clear forest and land for pasture and crop growth for animal feed.
Ground level ozone is another substantial greenhouse gas with an estimated warming impact equal to about 20 percent of that of carbon dioxide . It stays in the atmosphere for approximately 20 days, is a contributor to smog and is a health concern. Best controlled by reducing Methane
But it is not only humans who consume meat. What about the role of our meat loving pets? Let's take a look below the fold.
Pet food is plant or animal material intended for consumption by pets. Typically sold in pet stores and supermarkets, it is usually specific to the type of animal, such as dog food or cat food. Most meat used for nonhuman animals is a byproduct of the human food industry, and is not regarded as "human grade".
Four companies—Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, Mars, and Colgate-Palmolive—are thought to control 80% of the world's pet-food market, which in 2007 amounted to US$ 45.12 billion for cats and dogs alone.
Cats are obligate carnivores, though most commercial cat food contains both animal and plant material supplemented with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Obligate carnivores or 'true' carnivores depend on the nutrients only found in animal flesh for their survival.
Recommendations differ on what is the best diet for dogs. Some argue a meat only diet is best and others attest to a mixture of meat and grains. Regardless of which side of this diet debate you fall all seem to agree that meat is an important component to any dog's diet. PetMD had this to say on a dog's diet.
The key to the healthy dogs' diets was that they were consuming a diet based upon meat and the poor doers were eating diets based upon grain such as corn!So meat is the predominant component in the diets of both dogs and cats.
Now let's look at pet ownership statistics in the U.S.
The following statistics were compiled from the American Pet Products Association 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey.
There are approximately 78.2 million owned dogs in the United StatesSo 40% of all dog owners own more than one dog. That's almost 32 million.
Thirty-nine percent of U.S. households own at least one dog
Most owners (60 percent) own one dog
Twenty-eight percent of owners own two dogs
Twelve percent of owners own three or more dogs
Seventy-eight percent of owned dogs are spayed or neutered
There are approximately 86.4 million owned cats in the United StatesSo almost 45 million people own more than 1 cat.
Thirty-three percent of U.S. households own at least one cat
Fifty-two percent of owners own more than one cat
Eighty-eight percent of owned cats are spayed or neutered
Total that up and a whopping 77 million people in the U.S. own more than 1 cat or dog. And that figure doesn't take into account those households that have 1 cat and 1 dog.
So much for the "do the (pet) math". The point is to connect the dots. Suffice it to say our love of meat eating pets is a significant contributor to short-lived climate forcers.
So why bring all this up? I'm certainly not asking anyone to euthanize their pets. I'm certainly not requesting you stop feeding them meat. But how about making sure the ones you have now are spayed or neutered? What about limiting the number of your household pets going into the future? How about making the ultimate sacrifice and deciding to eliminate meat eating pets going into the future altogether?
Responsibility for our climate ultimately rests with each of us. If we are not willing as individuals to take sensible steps to reduce our carbon footprint in balanced ways is there any hope of achieving the collective changes needed in society as a whole?
I argue it is not only our human carbon footprint that needs reduction but it is our pets' carbon paw print that also needs adjustment. Just (pet) food for thought.