Divorce is hard on everyone involved, including planet Earth. A recent study by researchers at Michigan State University’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife asserts, basically, “divorce is bad for the planet.”
Researchers Jianguo Liu and Eunice Yu really didn’t reveal anything that is too surprising once considered objectively.
Basically, the report notes that as families transition from one home to two households following divorce, more resources are sapped from the natural environment. In other words, divorces require the building of more homes, the use of more land, and the need for more building materials. Moreover, after a divorce, households do not consume resources as efficiently. With fewer people living in a home following divorce and other family members transplanted somewhere else, more electricity and water is used, more goods consumed, and more greenhouse gases emitted on a per capita basis.
Liu and Yu conclude that six million more homes existed in the United States circa 2000 because of divorce. Assuming that the “resource-use efficiency” of divorced households was comparable to that of married households, Liu and Yu found that divorced households could have saved 38 million rooms, 73 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity and 627 billion gallons of water in 2005 alone.
While it is hard to imagine a soon-to-be divorced person thinking about how his divorce is going to affect the planet when he or she may already be worrying about issues, this message still has much relevance.
While divorce may not always be ideal, it can be necessary in some instances. And while divorces drain more resources, they can also bring on much-needed, positive changes in the lives of those directly involved. It’s unfortunate how this “divorce is bad for the planet” assertion seemed to be what most media took from this report when the message that families need to do a better job of conserving resources following divorce could have been a great starting point to explain how they could actually do so.