December 4, 2007

Slow News Day?

The headline was everywhere today: Divorce Found to Harm the Environment. Okay, I'll bite.

So first you check for the Onion logo on the web site, because it's just got to be a gag. And then when you find out what the 'science' is behind the claim, you wonder who pays people good money to do research like this.

Turns out that when a couple gets divorced and they go from living together to living in two different residences, they use more space and energy and water per person than they did when living together. Who'd a thunk it?

Except when they don't, I guess. If she moves back in with Mom, they don't. If he moves into his buddy's basement, they don't. If either one moves in immediately with another mate, they don't. Maybe the impact of all divorces is negligible when considered in light of society's overall trend of more people living alone in young adulthood and waiting till later to get married. More fodder for Michigan State researchers.

And it's just a bit too silly to suggest that these findings provide a reason for couples to stay together who otherwise wouldn't. In fact, making a big deal out of this supposed environmental impact trivializes the real and serious social costs and consequences of divorce.

I know it figures that when one person moves out of a household, and the remaining family members don't turn down the heat, the energy use per person is greater than before. I just question the utility of a study to validate the obvious for us.

The headline might just as well have read: "Kids Going Away to College Harm the Environment"

And like the news in the original headline, deep down inside we already knew that.


Steyn is amused.

Posted by dan at December 4, 2007 10:19 PM