Feasibility Issues: Fighting Climate Change By Avoiding Divorce

  • Recent studies have shown a relationship between climate change and divorce.
  • The study shows that keeping households together is more environmentally friendly and will help in the battle with climate change.
  • Logistically, staying married to battle climate change is not feasible.

"There’s no logistical way to address the increased number of households in the United States and elsewhere."

With the increase in communications and technology, raising awareness for various issues has become a social norm with the capabilities of reaching innumerable heights. One of the biggest causes that has captured mainstream focus is climate change. The scientific evidence and social angles have gripped Americans, who might not otherwise be interested in the topic.

Similarly, recent evidence has suggested a correlation between divorce and the changing of the Earth’s climate. The thought of these two topics being in any way related seems unlikely, but considering that the division of a household creates two households, there is environmental evidence that suggests a correlation.

The case

According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, the average household size in divorced households was 27 to 41 percent smaller than married households in 12 countries across the world between 1998 and 2002. The combination of the divorced households that marriage creates would mean 7.4 million less households in these countries. Additionally, these divorced households contained 33 to 95 percent more rooms than married households.

Given the resources expended in a household, it’s logical to assume that the more households in existence, the more resources that will inevitably be expended. This holds true, using the 7.4 million less households that would not exist if not for divorced couples. That equates to 38 million less rooms per household, 73 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, and 627 billion gallons of water.

The use of resources is at the heart of the issue. Sharing households utilizes less resources, spending less water and energy and creating an ecologically-sound living environment that can help sustain the planet more efficiently, according to National Geographic.

There also are concerns regarding transportation, construction and consumption. With the additional form of transportation and additional route to an additional household, the carbon footprint of the additional household expends even more energy, doing more ecological damage. The utilization of public transportation reduces that damage, only utilizing the most efficient amount of energy for multiple households.

Logistical nightmare

Despite the data, it’s incredibly difficult to shape public policy around these statistics. There’s no logistical way to address the increased number of households in the United States and elsewhere, according to the Earth Policy Institute. They cite countries like Japan, where women are marrying later in life, and for some, not at all, as a source of difficulty controlling the issue.

As well-intentioned as it might be to shape policy around the environmental issues surrounding divorce and climate change, it’s difficult to imagine the feasibility. With the number of households in 2015 around 124.59 million, it’s hard to imagine regulating the number of people in a household without creating a human rights issue.

The numbers surrounding divorce as a practice make the logistics of staying married to stay green almost impossible. In the U.S. alone, the divorce rate for 2015 was 16.9 divorces per 1,000 married women, and given that the U.S. is not even a top five country in divorce commonality, staying married to keep ecological consumption efficient and minimal becomes a feasibility issue.

Case study

For example, Vatican City and the Philippines are the only two countries in the world where divorce is illegal. Due to religious influences, both governments are of the opinion that the practice would be counter to their countries’ moral standards.

With Vatican City being a small city-country with a population of 451 people, their environmental impact on the world is fairly minimal, despite the previous and current Pope, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, advocating for environmental awareness. The environmental impact on the world is so minimal that it’s a difficult gauge for justifying the notion that staying married is a feasible solution in preventing the changes in the planet’s climate.

From an environmental perspective, The Philippines had 0.87 metric tons in carbon dioxide emissions in 2010, according to The World Bank. Furthermore, the Philippines had a household population of 92.1 million in 2012, according to the Philippine Statistical Authority. In comparison, the U.S. had 17.56 metric tons in carbon dioxide emissions in 2010 and a household population of 117 million.

Given the land mass difference, the statistics are not necessarily surprising, but they are indicative of the notion that staying married is not a feasible solution in solving climate problems. Additionally, the Philippines have to contend with water and deforestation issues, due to its probability of natural disasters. Staying married isn’t going to solve these problems for the country.

As well-intentioned of a notion as aiding in the efforts to reduce Earth’s climate changes, avoiding divorce does a minimal impact that ignores so many other factors that go into an individual relationship and its well-being. Being more environmentally-aware in the decisions we make is a feasible solution that will allow for the greatest impact over time.

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