Editor's Corner: Right under our noses, the cause of global warming

August 7, 2017

As if the cat from which we rent our house didn’t have enough to worry about, what with all the heat we’ve been experiencing, she now has been presented with the news that she is responsible for global warming.


She is not a cat that reacts favorably to heat and humidity. When I came home the other night — when it was a chilly 95 degrees — she was lying under the potting table on the patio, with her tongue hanging out.


For a moment, I thought she had checked out, but then I saw her glare balefully at me, which meant she was not yet melted to the pavement.


It turned out she had read the local newspaper edited for cats, the Weekly Caterwaul, and the lead story had been entitled, “How Pets Are Contributing to Global Warming.”


It was a story that originally had appeared in the Sacramento Bee.


The story did not say whether bees contribute to global warming, but they probably do. Everything else does. Even glaciers contribute to global warming by reflecting sunlight back up into the ozone layer, where it gets stuck, and does not let go until the sun goes down.


The cat would tell you that sunshine causes global warming, not pets. That is why she stays in the shade on the cool pavement beneath the potting table as much as she can on days like we’ve been having.


However, a UCLA geographer, Gregory Okin, would disagree with the cat.


Okin believes, according to the Bee article, that all the meat-based foods cats and dogs eat are responsible for global warming because manufacturing and eating them generates the equivalent of 64 million tons of carbon dioxide every year.


As a result, he says, dogs and cats are responsible for 25 to 30 percent of the environmental impact of meat consumption in the United States. That is as much as 13.6 million cars driving for a year, Okin says.


“That has to be wrong,” said the cat. “Heck, I don’t even have a driver’s license, and I don’t know any cat that does.”


The rent we pay to the cat — one can of wet food and a quarter cup of kibble every day — doesn’t seem to have a particularly large carbon footprint.


But wait, there is more.


The wet food is all meat — a ghastly smelling concoction that the cat seems to love — and the kibble has meat in it, too. Also, cats occasionally eat mice and birds, which also are made of meat.


Okin says that cows and pigs, from which the meat in cat food comes, emit methane.


It is called in polite circles, “breaking wind.”


The cat also does this, after eating the cat food.


Here is how it works. I might have my lunch, then lie down on the couch for a little postprandial nap. The cat hops up on my stomach for her own postprandial nap. Then, as I am lingering between being awake and being asleep, I smell something I would just as soon not smell.


It is the cat contributing to global warming.


When I go back outside, to drive back to work, I could swear it is at least a degree hotter.


Thanks, cat.

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