Thursday, August 27, 2015

Power to the dog turd! (Or from the dog turd.)

For the next couple of nights, I’ll be babysitting my dog nephew Jack while his folks tote my niece off to college.

Jack is the apotheosis of doggy goodness, a credit to his species, and the reason why there’s no arguing with this statement:

In a perfect world, every dog would have a home, and every home would have a dog.

As far as I can tell, the only doggy downsides are having to get out of bed at the crack of dawn on a sleety morning to get or let him out, and having to pick up after he relieves himself.

Dogs are tremendous producers of affection and joy, but they also excrete “more than twice the waste of the average person, or around 275 pounds a year.” (I know what you’re thinking, and that’s ‘thanks for sharing.’)

Around 60% of the stuff gets scooped and trucked to landfills, where it releases methane, a greenhouse gas. The rest delivers surprises to pedestrians and can contaminate waterways, as carnivorous diets create pathogen-rich waste. (Source: The Economist)

As a city dweller, I can attest to the fact that, at least in this neighborhood, the surprise attacks on the shoes of non-observant pedestrians are mostly a thing of the past. Where once you had to walk these mean streets as if your feet had eyes, today it is rare to spot an unclaimed turd on the sidewalk. Usually, the worst thing you’ll see is some jackass who has bagged his dog’s deposit up, twirled the bag closed, and left it at the curb (or, unbelievably) on someone’s doorstep (including, on one occasion, mine).

I don’t know whether folks are contaminating the Atlantic Ocean or the Charles River (love that dirty water!) with dog waste, but when Jack visits I dispose of his waste in trash cans, where it wends its way into greenhouse gas.

I knew that flatulent cows produce methane, and that pig slurry encroaching on river catchments wasn’t a good thing, but I’m sorry to hear that pups aren’t carbon neutral. We can all become vegetarians, but the thought of giving up dogs...

Well, I don’t want to live in that world.

Anyway, in NYC, Ron Gonen, a business school professor/environmental guru is hoping to do something about the dog mess.
The idea is to fit parks with small anaerobic digesters in order to:

…transform dog waste into clean energy in the city’s dog parks.

Dog owners would place their mongrels’ mounds into the machine, which then converts poo to gas for powering lamps and other park equipment. A year-long pilot would introduce digesters in three parks at a cost of around $100,000. The parks department is pondering the proposal.

That earlier attempts – including one in Arizona based on a device dubbed the Transformation Using Reactive Digestion (E-TURD) – haven’t succeeded isn’t enough to deter Gonen, who’s the co-founder and CEO of the Closed Loop Fund. The Fund is dedicated to recycling projects, and its aim is to:

Ensure that all consumer products and packaging is recycled and returned for use in manufacturing new products and packaging and that all food waste is used for beneficial purposes such as donation to food banks or converted to compost or clean energy from anaerobic digestion.

Until they head north, I guess I’ll just have to pick up after Jack and let the remains of his day convert to greenhouse gas. On the positive side, we’re walking to the park where Jack relieves himself, not burning up fossil fuel to get there.

I’d like to see Gonen’s project succeed and expand. Don’t want any do-gooders attacking our furry doo-doers because of their impact on the environment. Life without dogs would be such a no-fun zone.

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