Dec 072007


This photo belongs in my Spokesrider blog, but it belongs here, too. It was taken at the end of the most unusual segment of a 3-day Labor Day weekend bike tour back in 1998. There is a connection to that article that Eunice Yu and Jianguo Liu wrote about the “Environmental impacts of divorce.” (I’ll get around to explaining the bike tour part over at The Spokesrider.)

I’m going to get started here WITHOUT explaining just yet how that photo fits.

In their conclusions, Yu and Liu explain that their paper is about more than just divorce.

Divorce is just one mechanism that leads to a decline in household size and extra households. Other mechanisms include declines in multigenerational households, delays in first marriage, increases in empty-nesters, and increases in separated couples. These alternate lifestyles may create environmental impacts similar to divorce through a reduction in average household size and an increase in the number of households. As global human values continue to shift toward greater autonomy and choice, the environmental impacts of increasing divorce will continue unless effective policies to minimize household dissolution are implemented or divorced households are able to improve their resource-use efficiency.

That last sentence seems to be a call for greater government action of a kind that leftwingers might like (though the very next sentence gives an example of how government restrictions on divorce don’t necessarily work). But I would like to point out that maybe it’s too much government action that has caused some of this autonomy that degrades the environment in the first place.

Take SCHIP, for example. It’s far from the first instance where government has taken over the role of parents, making their role less important. When government plays daddy and mommy to kids and provides their health care, then the decision-making process that led to daddy and mommy getting married in the first place is not such a terrifyingly important one. They can marry for what seems like love, or excitement, without really asking themselves if the other person is a good one with whom to make a lifelong committment. If it doesn’t work out and it ends in divorce, well, the government will help pick up the pieces. SCHIP just carries this shift in the role of marriage and parenthood a little further.

And if the Yu/Liu connection is correct, things like SCHIP may be responsible for environmental degredation.

There are some counterarguments that I’m not going to go into just yet. Nor have I explained yet what that photo has to do with it. Later.