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Is Divorce Bad for the Environment?

January 05, 2008 11:57 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A divorced person takes up more space and uses more resources than a married one, according to a recent U.S. study. The findings prompt an assessment of the relationship between environmental goals and way of life.

30-Second Summary

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Lead researcher Jianguo "Jack" Liu of Michigan State University found that rising divorce rates across the globe are contributing to an increase in the consumption of energy and water. His report, “Environmental Impacts of Divorce,” appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“In the United States alone in 2005, divorced households used 73 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity and 627 billion gallons of water that could have been saved had household size remained the same as that of married households,” Liu said in a statement issued by his university.

Michelle Myers, a divorcee and a CNET reporter, covered the story. She said, “What I am worried about, however, is that such ridiculous and unproductive claims will keep people from taking the green movement seriously.”

Alex Mindlin of the Los Angeles Times took a different tack: The real issue isn’t that divorce is bad for the environment, but rather that living with other people is good for it.

“So if we really want to save the planet, we should live in communes, bunk with roommates, rent out our basements to weird guys (who, we'll later tell the police, ‘pretty much kept to themselves’),” writes Mindlin.

British author Theodore Dalrymple questions whether the new findings will mean environmentalists will now support family values as an environmental cause. He doubts it. In Dalrymple’s opinion, among green activists the desire to save the planet is not nearly as powerful as the desire to destroy a lifestyle.

Headline Links: ‘Environmental Impacts of Divorce’

Opinion Links: Lifestyle choices and the environment

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