Staying Together for the Sake of the Planet

02-01-2008 // Roger Di Silvestro

BREAKING UP isn’t only hard to do—apparently it’s also hard on the planet.

Researchers at Michigan State University have concluded that divorce augments the burden that humanity places on the planet. Divorced couples increase the number of separate households, which in turn increases the use of resources. U.S. families involved in a breakup consumed 42 to 61 percent more resources per person than they did while married. They spent 46 percent more on electricity and 56 percent more on water per person than would have been the case with a less divisive love life, resulting in the use of 2.37 trillion more quarts of water and 734 billion more kilowatt-hours of electricity (figures are for 2005).

The trend of divorce is upward, suggesting that the divorce effect won’t soon abate. The proportion of U.S. households headed by a divorcee was up from 5 percent in 1970 to 15 percent in 2000. The globe gets custody of all the progeny, but apparently no child support.—Roger Di Silvestro

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