April 10, 2008 | Ronda Jambe

Quick! Kill the Moggie! Save the Planet!

Visiting friends from Wellington informed me last weekend that they won’t be having a pet when they move to their ‘intentional community’ near Nelson. (That’s an evolved form of the kibbutz, think Nimbin with broadband. )
They brought to my attention that cats have a large carbon footprint:0.6 apparently, not that I really grasp what that means.
I thought it over, and after they left I turned regretfully to my ageing Burmese. He has clocked up 18 people years, a beige sage, a veritable Buddhist of an old man cat, a Catte Latte. I reached for him, and put my hands around his soft furry neck. As my fingers tightened around his throat, his little motor started up. That did it, time for a line in the sand.
Unequivocally, under no circumstances, ever, will I give up my pussy cat. As important as global warming is, there are other considerations. The world will just have to cope with my moggie’s carbon paw print.
puss for blog.jpg
There are ways to rationalise this choice, although some will see the following argument as just another justification of an indulgent air head burgeoisetta. (Well, everybody’s got to identify with a peer group)
My vendetta is with over-consumption, particularly as manifested orally. That’s right, what goes in the mouth. While there is credible research pointing to lack of sleep as a facilitator of obesity, and certainly urban design and stressed out lifestyles play a part, in the end hardly anyone has to be obese.
Consider the 7 deadly sins: Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Gluttony, Envy, Pride, and my personal favorite, Lust (that geranium of emotions, ubiquitous, hardy, and such a distraction in my youth).
The 7 deadly sins have been a fascination for me after seeing a set of prints, perhaps lithographs, that a man I knew created in Sydney. They were intricate, disturbing, but beautiful. Years later, in 1980, when we fell upon each other again in San Francisco (after I spotted his unusual name on a database at work) he was selling off his last copies of these. One of my lasting regrets is that I didn’t fork out the $200 for a set. He needed the cash, but I was an overly frugal single parent. Funny how we regret the things we passed up.
Also interesting that it is difficult to add to this list, which has been around since at least the 6th century. (I recommend the Wiki entry as background.) We may have found ways to combine them, is all. But of these, the only one which really broadcasts its presence when you walk down the street is Gluttony. The others take a little more familiarity to uncover. Therefore, Gluttony is a breech of ettiquette. Seeing entire gaggles of obese families waddling through the food court of a mall is enough to put you off your chicken caesar.
Several commentators to my previous blogs have kindly pointed out the calculations for measuring the cost-effectiveness of solar energy and associated batteries. It must be possible to calculate how much we could save environmentally if all the obese people just trimmed down. No just in the obvious items such as health care and food, but in fabric, timber, rubbish, space on public transport, and air fuel. An article last year did discuss the extra cost in road fuels in the US as a result of super-sizing their society.
While making simultaneous pronouncements about global warming and ‘the war on obesity’ , our fragmented political thinkers don’t dare connect these dots.
Is there any instrumentality that might actually look at the tax payers’ money going into CCS (that’s carbon capture and storage, and we’ll be hearing about it endlessly for the next 10 years, until they decide it was, after all, a furphy) and compare it with simpler measures, like reducing the impact of over-consumption on our total well being?
When they do, they might call a spade a spade, and talk about the 7 deadly sins in environmental terms. When they get around to doing the numbers, I hope they include a metric that takes into account the fact that fat people don’t purr.

Posted by Ronda Jambe at 7:46 am | Comments (3) |
Filed under: Ethics


  1. If you were to drive in western NSW and see at night the proliferation of feral cats and imagine the devastation they bring to small animals, marsupial mouse, lizards etc, you would have closed your fingers.

    Comment by frank luff — April 10, 2008 @ 10:39 am

  2. Actually, I meant to put in something about the feral cats, as our friends who have been travelling troubadors for a long time around Australia told us that when you shine a light in the trees at night you see dozens of gleaming cats eyes staring back.
    So, yes, our irresponsibility with animals is a major legacy that needs to be dealt with, for sure.

    Comment by ronda jambe — April 11, 2008 @ 10:16 am

  3. I’m sure that these overly chubby people fart more frequently and in larger volume than other people and certainly more than most moggies, thus adding significantly to greenhouse gas effect.

    Comment by Francis Xavier Holden — April 11, 2008 @ 5:23 pm

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