February 25, 2009

Stay married and save the planet?

I couldn't help noticing that provocative news headline yesterday. So how does being married help save the planet? According to Senator Steve Fielding from Australia, staying married is better for the planet because newly single people lead more wasteful lifestyles, so divorce makes climate change worse. He says that when people separate they need more space, more electricity, and more water, and that increases their carbon footprint. He says this proves that divorce isn't just a social problem, but an environmental one. According to Fielding, married couples live a more "resource-efficient lifestyle."

Fielding made his remarks at an Australian Senate hearing on environmental issues. I think there are some problems with his assumptions. I'm skeptical of his research and opinion because he's the leader of the independent Family First party and grew up in a family of 16 children. In my experience, at least here in the states, any group with the word "family" in the title is sort of code for "anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-liberal." Also even though I'm married, I was single for many years prior to moving in with my then-boyfriend, and I have lots of single friends. Blaming them for global warming seems beyond ridiculous. Further, there's the emphasis on marriage, when clearly his resource-efficiency argument would work just as well for couples who are living together. And finally, I love children, but surely married couples with children are leaving a larger carbon footprint than any singletons out there.

But he does have a small point, and that is that it's a fact that two can live cheaper, and therefore more efficiently, than one. I just don't think we have to bash singles to make that point. What do you think? Whether you're married or single, chime in with your opinion on how married couples or singles hurt or harm the climate crisis.


calimama said...

I would have to say, that is truly daft. Yes, it is probably true that 2 people living together can be more environmentally friendly than if they lived apart. But as you said, this really has nothing to do with marriage. A statement saying divorce is bad for the environment just makes me think the speaker is against divorce, not pro environment. Keeping a green planet is necessary for the longevity of our society but keeping a bad relationship going isn't necessary for anything.

Penny in Australia said...

ha, I love your suggestion that ‘any group with the word "family" in the title is sort of code for "anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-liberal"’ – so true! Yep, that’s what Family First is all about, though they’re far less rabid than their US counterparts.

WilliamB said...

Another Way of Looking At ItFar more single people than families live in small places. These small places are often high density apartments, where they use very little heat (being surrounded by other apartments) and have other efficiencies. These apartments can be in the city, so the residents can take public transportation, walk to nightlife, share cabs.

Families usually aspire to live in single family homes, where the utility needs are much higher. They have lawns (need I say more on the topic?). They are more likely to live where there is no decent public transportation.

Worst of all, married people have children. Children are, environmentally, the worst thing we can do.

(Please note my tongue is firmly in my cheek. Whichever side you take, I think the argument is stupid.)