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Is Divorce Linked to Climate Change?


In this article in Psychology Today titled Divorce: The Second-Hand Smoke of Climate Change? the author discusses a study that had been researching the environmental impacts of divorce. 

The study shows that divorce causes energy efficiency to drop and a rise in resource consumption. This is because when a couple divorces, they each maintain a similar lifestyle to the one they had lived together, consuming the same amount of energy and resources to maintain their now-separate house and lifestyles.

When a lawyer was interviewed on the finding’s studies and asked to comment on whether or not environmental awareness would a couple to reconsider their divorce, he said 

“I think people who want a divorce are so driven to improve their quality of life—environmental factors are the least of what they’re thinking about… If they’re not thinking about the effect of divorce on children, they’re not going to be thinking what their environmental footprint is going to be or how many kilowatts they’re using.”

What do you think? Do you think that people would take environmental impact into their considerations when getting divorced or is it not important enough when compared to issues in a relationship?

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. lexicory
    April 16, 2012 at 12:14 am

    In a real and true relationship when two people are committed to each other, the climate and environment is not a big topic, and will not have a large impact on the relationship. Now, realize that I said “in a relationship…where two people are committed to each other.” When you truly are committed to someone, you find ways to reconcile those differences, especially ones about opinions, and especially something as trivial as the environment.
    It is exactly how the lawyer was describing it- when you are so focused on trying to make something work, something as important as one of the biggest decisions in your life, usually the last thing on couples’ minds is their ‘environmental footprint” and conserving their lifestyles to save water.

    • April 16, 2012 at 3:09 am

      I think you missed the point of this article entirely, and I don’t quite understand your response. The article doesn’t concern itself with the sentimental minutiae at the basis of your response, but rather establish a very quantitive correlation between divorces and climate change: divorces mean that people go on to establish more households, which in turn increases energy use, &c…

  2. April 16, 2012 at 3:48 am

    I think that this is the sort of here-say pseudo logical science that everyone knows and loves. Logistically it seems to make sense, e.g. two households means twice the electricity usage ect., but it really really doesn’t. Yes on a smaller level people will turn on lights wether there are 1 or 10 people in a room, but it’s not as if after a divorce a new home forms from the ether to start burning a hole in the ozone layer. Another apartment is utilized, or a flat is occupied, as keeping in the ebb and flow of temporary housing. Honestly it seems like a bit of a stretch to me that this would have a measurable impact on the environment, let alone have an impact that was measured properly. On the whole I think the article was less about the environment than having a flashing hot-button hook to talk about the psychological impact of divorce on children. Quite a nice hook, but a hook none the less.

  3. April 16, 2012 at 5:37 am


    I agree with the lawyer completely. Thinking that a couple would actually stop and think about their ‘footprint’ when divorce is on the table is more than just a little ridiculous. Sure, the article is probably right in that energy use goes up with a divorce, the logic behind that is simple follow, but that it will have an impact on the even the most environmentally friendly of divorcing couples is a long shot. Divorce is divorce, when people have come to the point of considering to end a marriage, most options and reasoning as to how to stay together have most likely been explored. The lawyer makes a very important argument in saying, if the impact on the children doesn’t dissuade from a divorce than why would the environment? Hopefully, the children of any given couple are the most important things to them…if not the most important, hopefully far more important than their potential impact on the environment.

  4. April 18, 2012 at 2:28 am

    I also agree with the lawyer completely. The couple is probably too concentrated on separating to think about anything else, especially the environment. Perhaps when they have separated and are trying to start over or live independently they might reevaluate their lifestyle choices and take the environment into consideration. However, while in the midst of a divorce or contemplating a divorce, the children should be their priority, not the environment. It makes sense that two houses using the same amount of resources as a married couple would have a negative impact on the environment, but I honestly don’t think a separating couple would be that concerned about the environment when they move into a new home after divorcing. The energy rate probably does increase with a divorce, but I honestly would not be thinking about my environmental foot print if I were in the act of separating or going through a divorcing. I would be focusing on my priorities, such as my children, finances, and living situation rather than the environment.

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