Hit & Run: A paw carbon rating

Forget scratched furniture and suspicious patches on the living room carpet – your pet suddenly has a lot to answer for: the planet's environmental future no less.

Brenda and Robert Vale are professors of architecture at Victoria University, New Zealand, who specialise in sustainability and they claim the carbon pawprint of a pet dog (roughly the size of an alsatian), is twice that of a 4.6-litre Toyota Land Cruiser driven 10,000 kilometres a year. Writing in Time to Eat the Dog, the pair use all sorts of calculations to compare the ecological impact of pets with common vehicles or household appliances. Instead of looking at the volume of carbon dioxide produced – the normal method of measuring carbon footprints – the Vales have used the amount of land necessary to grow enough food to "power" your dog, cat or your car. So, according to the couple, 0.84 hectares of land creates enough food to feed a German Shepherd for a year, but only half this space would be enough – if all the food was converted to energy it could use – to keep a Land Cruiser going for the same length of time.

Mind-bending stuff, and more than a little scientifically dubious ("I wouldn't have thought a dog had anywhere near as high a carbon footprint as a car," says John Buckey, managing director of carbonfootprint.com). But taking the statistics at face value, did you know that cats have a marginally smaller carbon footprint than a Volkswagen Golf (both roughly 0.15 hectares)? Or that hamsters have a footprint of 0.014 hectares, meaning if you had two it would be about as environmentally dangerous as owning a plasma television? Given the state of British broadcasting, the animals would probably be more entertaining.

So what, then, is the most eco-friendly of God's creatures? Well, it's all down to size, and food consumption. If the average labrador weighs a whopping 30kg, then a schnauzer, at 7.5kg (again, an average weight) would be a third less problematic for Mother Earth. A cat, at just 5kg, would be even less harmful. Or what about a chicken or a bee? As well as being titchy, they also produce edible things.

One thing's for sure, the title of the Vales' book – essentially sticking Fido in the oven – is unlikely to win the average-dog owner over. Everyone knows cats are far tastier. Rob Sharp

Fat chance of a winner's dinner

MasterChef: The Professionals is over for another year. Marianne couldn't make her jelly set, Daniel made a balls of the brioche and Steve Groves walked off with the prize. Steve's a bit of a trickster – he endeared himself to millions with his reinvention of poached egg with soldiers – and it's a shame we won't see him any more. But we can eat his food, can't we? He's junior sous chef at Launceston Place in Kensington. Quick! Book a table before the rest of London has the same idea! "Sorry," says a chap called Zafar on the phone, "I'm afraid no tables are available this weekend," (what, are you kidding?) "although we might be able to squeeze you in on Sunday evening." Can I be sure I'm eating something prepared by Steve's hands? "Our chefs don't make individual dishes," says Zafar, "The dishes are jointly prepared by all of them." Curses. How many diners would love to summon Steve from the kitchen, to yell, Gregg Wallace-style, "Nah THAT. Is a GREAT. Plate of FOOD"? John Walsh

Gaddafi: a dedicated dictator of fashion

Colonel Gaddafi's wardrobe offered up another fashion triumph yesterday during an interview with Sky News, in which he expressed regret for the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan embassy in 1984.

If you couldn't quite hear his mumbled apology, perhaps that's because it was drowned out by the loudness of his outfit. Gaddafi's bright green-and-brown shirt looked like camouflage, but would only work as such if he were trying to blend into the background in Balamory.

It's only after you gaze at the pattern for a moment that you realise it's actually an outline of Africa. The Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya didn't make his name as a loopy despot by choosing practicality over style. As the George Melly of the geopolitical scene, every time he attends an international conference filled with grey-suited fellow leaders he sticks out like a sore thumb.

Gaddafi's gaudy garb – the medal-encrusted military uniforms; the Saturday Night Fever suits; the colour-bending kufis; the Cuban heels; the beach shirts and classic shades – transform him from a ruthless dictator into a figure of fun, gulling us into taking him less seriously. But there are important messages in his sartorial choices, too: the Africa-print is a recurring theme from a man who's spent considerable time and energy repositioning himself as an African, not an Arab, leader. Tim Walker

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

Marketing Executive

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Charter Selection: A professional services company ...

Project Manager - Bristol South West

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Project Manager (PM), Key Banking Client, Retail ...

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor