We’re hearing a lot from politicians about environmental policy. I haven’t heard any of them mention that one solution might be: promoting marriage.
Currently the environmental movement is all about climate, as if we can really affect that. If you don’t think global warming is taking place or is a problem, it doesn’t mean you favor rampant abuse of the earth. One can be a global warming skeptic — as I am — and still exhibit concern for the environment. In fact, I think a dirty planet is a much scarier prospect than a temperature rise of a few degrees. And mandatory “fixes” for global warming could damage the economy, disproportionately affecting the poor.
Also, when global planners declare that people are the problem, watch out for the policies that follow.
The good news is, sometimes good environmental policy dovetails with good social policy. Promoting marriage is good social policy. And marriage is good for the planet.
After studying data from twelve countries, two University of Michigan researchers found that a great way to conserve energy — and protect the planet — is to stay married. Their paper argues that divorce takes a toll on the environment by virtue of the fact that couples who used to live together, consume more energy and water after they split. The divorced couples they studied spent 46 percent more per capita on electricity and 56 percent more on water than married couples. And obviously, divorced couples also occupied more space. — more rooms — 38 million more in the study — and also more land.
If all couples who are divorced had stayed together, we’d be consuming billions fewer kilowatt hours of electricity and gallons of water. The lead author of the Michigan study concluded, “People have been talking about how to protect the environment and combat climate change, but divorce is an overlooked factor that needs to be considered.”
Of course, it’s not just divorce that affects the number of people living alone. To the extent that people are marrying later, or not marrying at all, we lose the efficiencies described in the study. Still, finding ways to reduce divorce is not only good for families and society, it’s also good environmental stewardship. God’s design for marriage makes good environmental sense.