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Are Pets Worse for the Environment Than SUVs?

An eco-blogger posed this absurd question, but she’s not exactly factoring in all the hazards of smug, faux-eco-friendly yuppitude, is she?

 |  Jan 14th 2014  |   24 Contributions


Last month, Linda Sharps, who writes the blog “As Green As I Get,” posted an article positing the ridiculous question, “Are pets worse for the environment than SUVs?”

Tiny, adorable little kittens or AGENTS OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL APOCALYPSE?!? You decide! Four cute kittens by Shutterstock

Once I stopped LOLing, I got down to reading the article. Apparently the authors of a book called Time to Eat the Dog? The Real Guide to Sustainable Living were the first people to ask this question, stating that dogs are “worse for the environment than gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicles.”

But cats don’t get away scot-free, either. Even though our furry feline friends are “only as bad as a Smart Car,” they too are apparently OMG HARBINGERS OF ENVIRONMENTAL DOOM because of the cat litter that goes to landfills and the strip mining that allows us to have cat litter, which gathers our kitties’ pee into handy, easily removable clumps.

Not only that, Sharps says, cats contribute to the problem of adding chemicals to the environment thanks to medications and flea preventives. And, of course, she can’t resist doing her part to spread the OMG 4 BILLION BIRDS panic.

Seriously? Seriously?

Okay, first of all, let’s get real here. People are far more responsible for contaminating our natural environment with our endless array of petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers, antibiotics and growth hormones fed to cattle, toxic drain cleaners, antibacterial hand soaps, and, lest we forget, all the medical waste we contribute to the environment courtesy of being the most overmedicated society on the planet. But I guess the unprocessed antipsychotic drugs, chemotherapy agents, migraine medicines, ADHD treatment pills, erectile dysfunction medications, birth control medications, steroids, and on and on, that we excrete into the environment through our own urine and feces are no problem at all, right?

Hybrid cars: So much smug self-righteousness, so little real change. breezeart.us / Shutterstock.com

And then there’s the premise that somehow hybrid vehicles and Smart Cars are so much better for the environment that our standard gas- or diesel-powered cars. Um, how about no?

First of all, hybrid and electric cars use motor oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, antifreeze, brake fluid, and all the other nasties that keep our precious vehicles running, and these cars are just as capable of leaking this garbage as any other cars.

Then there’s the matter of the batteries that are used to power these vehicles. Nickel-metal-hydride batteries, which power most hybrids, can be recycled safely, according to the LoveToKnow blog. But the Environmental Protection Agency states that nickel is a probable human carcinogen and that nickel mining (open-pit, just like that OMG HORRIBLE clumping litter, and then smelted from the mined nickel ore) and reclamation pose their own environmental hazards.

Open-pit nickel mine by Shutterstock

Lithium ion batteries, considered to be the next generation of hybrid batteries, aren’t exactly eco-friendly, either.

And let’s not forget that Smart Cars and any other vehicle that needs to be plugged in are being powered by electricity. And do you know what generates most electricity here in the U.S.? Coal. Nasty, funky, black-smoke-generating coal. And what else? Diesel oil. Environmentally disastrous, greenhouse-gas-emitting diesel oil, created in refineries that are constantly belching out flames and smoke and using toxic chemicals to separate this petrochemical from that. Oh, and nuclear energy, too -- generated, for the most part, in dangerously old plants (I don’t think a new nuclear plant has been built in the U.S. in 30 years or more), which are a meltdown waiting to happen. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, you self-righteous, smug yuppies.

That computer Sharps is using to write her blog posts? An eco-nightmare waiting to happen. And all the other electronic gadgets she and her family likely use? Yup, toxic as hell, too.

Electric cars: guess what? They run on electricity, generated in a super eco-unfriendly way! Electric car plug-in power station

Not only that, but Sharps’ bio says she has two “rambunctious boys.” Having children is an OMG ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER, too! If she shuttles those boys around to soccer practice and school and the mall and everywhere else kids need to go, she’s contributing to the greenhouse gases that are destroying the environment.

And I’m sure the authors of that blah-de-blah Eat the Dog book Sharps mentioned in her post commit their fair share of environmental mayhem, too.

To paraphrase a well-known passage from the Bible, Sharps and the authors of that book should remove the log from their own eyes before criticizing the speck in someone else’s -- especially when that someone else is a cat or a dog.

What do you think? Is this as absurd as I think it is? Let me know in the comments.

Read stories of rescue on Catster:

About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their award-winning cat advice blog, Paws and Effect, since 2003.

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