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Divorce Can Harm the Environment, Study Finds

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Statues of couple by Daniel Lobo via Flickr

Divorce rates have risen steadily over the past few years. According to research from Avvo, someone gets divorced every 13 seconds in the world.

Though often a necessary solution, divorce can have a troubling impact on families, and that translates to damage to the environment, surprisingly. The findings link higher carbon use per household directly to the effects of undergoing a divorce.

Understanding the cause and effects could be integral to shifting the negative trend of these numbers.

Results of the Analysis

Researchers at Michigan State University performed an extensive analysis on a variety of randomly selected, cohabiting couples and families around the world to test their use of resources and general efficiency in the home.

When all the data was collected, it was found that American households that had experienced divorce used between 42 and 61 percent more resources per person than before the separation. This amounted to 46 percent more per person for electricity and 56 percent more for water.

The researchers published a paper on their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The article offered an analysis of what it would be like if these couples had stayed together.

The result would have been a savings of 73 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity and 627 billion gallons of water for a single year across the entire U.S.

The Cause of Inefficiency

Though it might not make immediate, intuitive sense, when more people live in a household, they tend to use their resources more efficiently. Thus, people who remain married share their resources and use them more wisely.

The stresses of divorce also tend to increase resource consumption in a household. People become less concerned about their habits and more concerned about their personal emotional stability.

Individuals who go through a particularly messy divorce tend to use more resources than those who have an easy time of it. Divorced families also tend to use more rooms per person than the average married family.

When more rooms are used per person, more lights are likely to be left on, showers will last longer, and heat and air conditioning will be less evenly dispersed throughout the house.

This information puts a special emphasis on seeking to be more environmentally friendly within households rather than on a commercial spectrum. “Hopefully this will inform people about the environmental impact of divorce,” Jianguo Liu, an ecologist at MSU and a lead researcher over the study, told the Washington Post.

“For a long time we’ve blamed industries for environmental problems. One thing we’ve ignored is the household.”

What Can Be Done?

The findings put a new emphasis on households to make changes, rather than industries. This makes it difficult for the government to have a role in the process. However, some tax incentive policies have been made available to families to encourage them to conserve their resources.

In addition, energy efficiency in appliances has been booming since the study was published. More and more homes seek to get the Energy Star rating on all their appliances. Consumers who take advantage of this show increased savings in their everyday household energy use.

Spreading the word is also valuable. Consumers must take charge of their own energy consumption in order to make a real difference.

“There’s strong evidence, which emerges clearly in this paper, that merging what otherwise would be separate households will reduce energy and other resource needs,” says Ralph Cavanagh, a lawyer at the advocacy group Natural Resources Defense Council, a major participant in the study. “The best advice to those who are miserable together is not, however, to avoid divorce for the sake of the environment, but to find someone else as quickly as possible.”

Lester Brown, president of the D.C.-based Earth Policy Institute, also encourages people to be more careful in their marriages in order to reduce the impact on the environment and their personal lives. “[The study] would suggest we should be a little more careful when one’s marrying to make sure the marriage is going to last, but that would be counter to the trend we’ve seen in recent decades, at least in this country,” he said.

 

Environment

Road Trip! How to Choose the Greenest Vehicle for Your Growing Family

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Greenest Vehicle
Licensed Image by Shutterstock - By Mascha Tace -- https://www.shutterstock.com/g/maschatace

When you have a growing family, it often feels like you’re in this weird bubble that exists outside of mainstream society. Whereas everyone else seemingly has stability, your family dynamic is continuously in flux. Having said that, is it even possible to buy an eco-friendly vehicle that’s also practical?

What to Look for in a Green, Family-Friendly Vehicle?

As a single person or young couple without kids, it’s pretty easy to buy a green vehicle. Almost every leading car brand has eco-friendly options these days and you can pick from any number of options. The only problem is that most of these models don’t work if you have kids.

Whether it’s a Prius or Smart car, most green vehicles are impractical for large families. You need to look for options that are spacious, reliable, and comfortable – both for passengers and the driver.

5 Good Options

As you do your research and look for different opportunities, it’s good to have an open mind. Here are some of the greenest options for growing families:

1. 2014 Chrysler Town and Country

Vans are not only popular for the room and comfort they offer growing families, but they’re also becoming known for their fuel efficiency. For example, the 2014 Chrysler Town and Country – which was one of CarMax’s most popular minivans of 2017 – has Flex Fuel compatibility and front wheel drive. With standard features like these, you can’t do much better at this price point.

2. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

If you’re looking for a newer van and are willing to spend a bit more, you can go with Chrysler’s other model, the Pacifica. One of the coolest features of the 2017 model is the hybrid drivetrain. It allows you to go up to 30 miles on electric, before the vehicle automatically switches over to the V6 gasoline engine. For short trips and errands, there’s nothing more eco-friendly in the minivan category.

3. 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Who says you have to buy a minivan when you have a family? Sure, the sliding doors are nice, but there are plenty of other options that are both green and spacious. The new Volkswagen Atlas is a great choice. It’s one of the most fuel-efficient third-row vehicles on the market. The four-cylinder model gets an estimated 26 mpg highway.

4. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

While a minivan or SUV is ideal – and necessary if you have more than two kids – you can get away with a roomy sedan when you still have a small family. And while there are plenty of eco-friendly options in this category, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is arguably the biggest bang for your buck. It gets 38 mpg on the highway and is incredibly affordable.

5. 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel

If money isn’t an object and you’re able to spend any amount to get a good vehicle that’s both comfortable and eco-friendly, the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel is your car. Not only does it get 28 mpg highway, but it can also be equipped with a third row of seats and a diesel engine. And did we mention that this car looks sleek?

Putting it All Together

You have a variety of options. Whether you want something new or used, would prefer an SUV or minivan, or want something cheap or luxurious, there are plenty of choices on the market. The key is to do your research, remain patient, and take your time. Don’t get too married to a particular transaction, or you’ll lose your leverage.

You’ll know when the right deal comes along, and you can make a smart choice that’s functional, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.

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Environment

How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life

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how climate change affect our lives
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Rawpixel.com -- https://www.shutterstock.com/g/rawpixel

Living the life of an engineer likely sounds pretty glamorous: you are educated and highly regarded, typically have high paying gigs, and with the breadth of knowledge and array of fields of specialty, your possibility for jobs is usually immense.  But what if there was something else that needed your attention? Something bigger than just being an engineer, going to work every day and doing the same technical tasks typically associated with the profession?

For Kevin McCroary, that is exactly how it played out.  A successful engineer, gainfully employed in a prosperous job, a simple trip to the Philippines made him see that there was a bigger issue at hand than using his engineer training in a traditional profession.  This bigger issue was that of climate change.  And working as a volunteer for underprivileged children in the Philippines, he saw first-hand the extensive pollution and poverty that existed here and that impacted the livelihood of these kids and their families.

Upon returning home, from his trip to the Philippines he had a new perspective of the impact we as individuals and as humanity have on the earth, and more than that Kevin wanted to know more.  He started to do some research and study these human-environmental interactions, and shortly thereafter ended up in Greenland.  There, he spoke to a man who had lost his home in a tsunami, and, who, through consistent weather tracking could indeed confirm that the current weather trends were “strange:” there was undeniably a general warming tendency happening in the arctic, causing an array of negative effects.

The combination of these observations, as well as his own research, led Kevin to conclude that something had to be done.  With that in mind, he launched his project Legend Bracelet.  The mission is simple: create a reminder of the legacy we are leaving behind.  As individuals and as humanity, we are leaving behind an imprint on the earth, and the magnitude of it is something that needs to be brought to the forefront of public awareness.  The idea is to have a bracelet that can serve as a daily reminder of the impact on the earth that each of us can have every day, regardless of how big or small.  The bracelet has two capsules: the first is filled with sand or earth, and the second is empty.  As the owner, you are to fill the empty one with your own earth, carrying it with you as a reminder and symbol of your connection and commitment to helping look after our environment.

We are all impacted by climate change, and we all have a responsibility to help.  And it can start with something as simple as putting on a bracelet.  Support Kevin on his Kickstarter campaign for Legend Bracelet, tell others about it, or take action in your own way and play your part in slowing down the effects of climate change.  You may think “but I’m just one person!” You are indeed.  But so is he.  Every change starts with one.

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