Wednesday, 9 December 2009

twisted researcher (tortures data till it confesses)

A friend of mine posted me information about something quite bizarre yesterday.

The ecological footprint of a pet dog is twice that of a 4.6-litre Land Cruiser driven 10,000 kilometres a year.

my first reaction: Ha ha ha ha ha haaaa haa ha hha

It reminds me of another stupid one I saw some months ago about Google contributing to global warming. Clearly this circus is attracting academics who are getting paid by saying anything as long as they flabber on about Global Warming.

I have not got my hands on th book or research yet, but from reading this site it seems that their methodology of analysis is something like:

they calculated a medium dog eats 164 kilograms of meat and 95kg of cereals every year. It takes 43.3 square metres of land to produce 1kg of chicken a year. This means it takes 0.84 hectares to feed Fido.

They compared this with the footprint of a Toyota Land Cruiser, driven 10,000km a year, which uses 55.1 gigajoules (the energy used to build and fuel it). One hectare of land can produce 135 gigajoules a year, which means the vehicle's eco-footprint is 0.41ha – less than half of the dog's.

They found cats have an eco-footprint of 0.15ha – slightly less than a Volkswagen Golf. Hamsters have a footprint of 0.014ha – keeping two of them is equivalent to owning a plasma TV.

Well, assuming fido eats chicken, not beef or some other meat ... the old scale of falsehood of "lies, bloody lies and statistics" comes immediately to mind.

DSCN8589They make some very interesting twists of the tail here. I will need to examine their methodology but by choosing to calculate the energy of the vehicle and claiming then that the land can produce 135 gigajoules a year, exactly where this would be and how is interesting.

I don't see any mention of the amount of land required to absorb the pollution (mining isn't clean you know) nor do I see any amount of land involved in that.

They seem to have taken quite a distorted view of ecological footprinting (as described by the authors who created the concept Wackernagel, M., & Rees, W. (1995). Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth.: New Society Publishers.)

You can read another summary of their book on New Scientist, but it is not in any academic style, more like a "womens weekly" sort of article. To be fair they make some interesting points on bringing perspective to the issues of this.

I'll look this up and post back when I have done the analysis, meantime here is a critique which is brief but well done that suggests they are out by about 10 times (under estimating the car - over estimating the dog).

So it takes 613 gallons of ethanol to drive the Land Cruiser 10,000 kilometers. That translates into 0.61 hectares of corn land.
... 0.062 hectares worth of land to feed an overfed dog.
its a worthwhile read if you want to.

So, when does debate become just a meaningless diatribe of confused blither? (about 20 years ago by my reckoning after the JASON group produced findings of global warming which the US Govt sought to ignore for self interest purposes)

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