It’s hot outside and, unfortunately, it’s only going to be getting hotter. This is quite distressing and—between earthquakes and fires and floods and loss of land and disease—we have a lot of microwaved sadness to look forward to because common indulgences.
Yet, one question keeps popping up as we think of ways to be more environmentally friendly: how are our pets affected by global warming? Are they contributing to the phenomena? In the general sense, what is the relationship between our dogs and the unfortunate changes in climate? Unsurprisingly, there is a very clear relationship—and it’s not quite what you think, either.
Hold onto your pup, walk to work, and don’t eat meat: this is how your dog and global warming get along.
How It Affects Them
Like us humans—or at least the smart ones—climate change is affecting our animal’s mental health. Pet behaviorists are seeing depressed, antsy dogs as a result of climate changing, particularly because dogs aren’t getting out into the environment and engaging with the world. In the opposite direction, rising heat will led to us and our pets being plagued by a rise in small bug and parasite infections from fleas and ticks and heartworms as it will constantly be high time for these pests all the time. Our poor babies: depressed and potentially full of diseases!
How They Enable It
Although I know this will break your heart, dogs are giant contributors to climate change. Not in the sense of their being wild animals, fucking up an ecosystem themselves, but because domestic dogs naturally come with a lot of waste: pets are helpless exaggerated manifestations of how flip humans can be with resources. So how bad is it? Some scientists say that owning a dog is twice the equivalent of driving a luxury SUV 10,000 miles. Let that sink in and make you depressed. That’s as many miles as some car leases last…and those take three years to fulfill. Beyond basic ownership, their eating habits and their food complex isn’t helping the environment: their diet is contributing to global warming. No, their food industry isn’t as bad as our own but it’s still bad and a lesson that we should all go vegan. The most glaring, obvious way dogs enable climate change comes from their poop—literally: in San Francisco, 4% of waste is dog poop bags—and every ounce of it produces 30% a greenhouse gas more powerful than carbon dioxide. That’s, um, shitty. Beyond this, some people are saying we should start eating dogs to reduce their footprint. Rest easy, though: spaying and neutering would be just as helpful.
What They Can Do
Can we learn anything from our dogs from climate change? Yes, actually: dogs might be windows into evolution. The design of dogs is a product of evolution that happened as a result of climate change. They went from forest hunters to low-lurking grassland hunters as the climate shifted, changing the landscape. So, they adapted. Perhaps we will evolve in a similar way? And, as you can see above, dogs are actually a great metaphor for climate change versus weather. As Neil Degrasse Tyson shows with his pup, the wander of dogs is a lot like the wander of weather whereas climate goes in one, steady direction. It’s fascinating and, while this little metaphor is toxic, it’s a lesson on how we should probably work together to solve the problem, pups and all.