In one of those ironic twists that will have conspiracy theorists spinning in their bunkers, it seems that divorce is decidedly un-green.
That’s right. Republicans everywhere are rubbing their hands together with glee, seeing an opportunity to throw mud on single parent, tree-hugging families everywhere: “Boo. Hiss. Hypocrites!” they descry.
The experts have weighed in. Divorce is bad for the environment.
NPR, the Guardian Unlimited, Scientific American, and Science Daily are but a few of the publications that have picked up this story and run with it. Blogs are busting out all over with their thoughts on the subject.
I say, “Well, DUH.” Let’s think about it with some common sense, shall we? Rather than forming a tribe, we peel off into smaller and smaller divisions. Each parent finds his or her own domicile, complete with two sets of everything, one in each house, right down to two bikes, two sets of clothes, two dollhouses. How can that be good for the environment? It’s great for the consumer industry. Buy more! Maintain two homes, pay two sets of utitlities, keep the children’s favorite foods in stock and then toss them when they don’t get eaten. Have two cars, two televisions, two Leap Pads and two video game consoles. A study by Michigan STATE University, full of nice charts and graphs and such, also mentions that split households use more electricity and water than combined ones do. Think about it. Two dining rooms to light at night. Two master bedrooms to illuminate.
Here’s just a snippet of the study:
When they calculated the cost in terms of increased utilities and unused housing space per capita, they discovered that divorce tosses out economy of scale. Among the findings:
- 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. Thirty-eight million extra rooms were needed with associated costs for heating and lighting.
- In the United States and 11 other countries such as Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Greece, Mexico and South Africa between 1998 and 2002, if divorced households had combined to have the same average household size as married households, there could have been 7.4 million fewer households in these countries.
- The numbers of divorced households in these countries ranged from 40,000 in Costa Rica to almost 16 million in the United States around 2000.
- The number of rooms per person in divorced households was 33 percent to 95 percent greater than in married households.
The paper does mention that other factors contribute to this trend, including marrying later in life and the decline of multi-generational households. Just proves what I’ve been saying all along: don’t go through a divorce alone. Find another single parent and get a house together. Share the joys and responsibilities of maintaining a household together. I’m always wondering if I could move the King of Everything into my room and rent out his.
And the paranoid in me is wondering, if this article was published in Nature in 2003, why on earth is it suddenly hitting Google’s search engines now?
It’s those pesky Republicans, I’m telling you. They are out to get us single mothers.