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Divorce Wrecks Environment Too

Divorced individuals use more resources than they did as married couples. Karen Hopkin reports.

We all know divorce can be hard on the kids. But did you ever stop to think about what it’s doing to the environment? Well scientists at Michigan State University have. After crunching the numbers, they’ve found that when couples split, they use more land, more energy, and even more water than before.

Here’s why. After a breakup, the parties move into smaller, individual households, which means more land used, and more resources consumed per person. In 2005, in the US, divorcees occupied 38 million extra rooms, and used about 50% more electricity and water per person than they did while married. These findings appear in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

So how can we keep doomed relationships from taking the environment down with them? The authors note that if all these newly liberated singles remarry, the problem disappears.  Or maybe they could just move in with one another.  Of course, then you have to wonder…[Odd Couple theme song and voice over: Can two divorced men share an apartment without driving each other crazy?]

—Karen Hopkin

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