climate change

[OPINION] Love in the time of the climate crisis

John Leo C. Algo

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[OPINION] Love in the time of the climate crisis

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'Green dating is also quickly catching on in the Philippines, as part of a singles community more conscious of values-centric dating'

We all have different definitions of love. For example, when I was a child, it was defined through a song as “something if you give it away.” As I grew older, I also heard that love was blind, patient, or sweeter the second time around. Or maybe a combination of all three.

Whatever your own definition is, one thing is for sure: life is much more meaningful when you have it, feel it, or are fighting for it. It is both pure and complicated, simple and dynamic all at once. 

Regarding the romantic kind, many factors impact how we approach love. We account for personality, values, attractiveness, and resources, to name a few. Yet there is another emerging factor that is being considered more and more when it comes to romantic love: the climate crisis.

‘Green dating’

During a recent speed dating event at a café in Quezon City, one of the café managers shared to me their experiences related to the climate crisis. Within the past five years, they had to install another air-conditioning unit and have their windows tinted to respond to an increasingly warmer environment, including for events like the one mentioned above.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an emergence of “green dating,” or the pursuit of romance with strong considerations for ecological consciousness and a shared desire for climate and environmental action.

Over the years, numerous reports show that a person’s perspectives and actions related to green issues are increasingly valued among singles seeking relationships. Dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble reported an increase in the mentions of climate-related issues on user profiles worldwide, with more people seeking dates that involve the outdoors or being physically active.

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In Germany, the United Kingdom, and India, environmentalism is among the most popular causes indicated in the profiles of both new and existing Bumble users. A similar trend is seen in Singapore, where 73% of singles expressed interest in living a sustainable lifestyle. Gen Z singles comprise 80% of Bumble users that also value environmentalism in the United States.

For other apps, veganism and veganism were prominent in the profiles of many Tinder users in Brazil. Dating platform OkCupid saw a 368% increase in climate change or environment references in many of its user profiles within five years.

Green dating is also quickly catching on in the Philippines, as part of a singles community more conscious of values-centric dating. As of 2023, 48% of Bumble users give importance to the active engagement of their potential partner in social causes. Sustainability ranked second among the most-prioritized causes, seen in 73% of the app’s users, behind human rights (84%) and political participation (72%); it should be noted that the latter two causes are also intricately linked to climate and environmental issues.

‘Couples for Climate?’

A similar phenomenon can also be seen in many romantic couples regarding an increased concern for green issues. I have seen people in my social circle, married or in a relationship, take greater interest in environmental issues in recent years. They ask me what environmental organizations they can join to help, how their children can be taught eco-friendlier habits, or how to talk about this matter in case of differences of opinion.

How partners influence each other regarding the climate crisis was also the subject of a recent study by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. It found that partners having similar perspectives about the climate crisis does not necessarily mean a full alignment of the beliefs and behaviors between them. This emphasizes the need for couples to have more open communication with each other regarding their views and ideas on this issue, from misconceptions to preferred modes of action. 

The climate crisis has different impacts on different scales, and the same can be said at the personal and interpersonal level. Some people can focus more on its environmental implications, like how it affects coral reefs or forests. Others may relate more to the economic impacts (i.e., how going eco-friendly would affect their budgets), political lens (i.e., a politician’s green agenda compared to their reputation), or personal choices (i.e., choice of clothing or vacation spot).

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Whatever the case may be, there is a higher chance of a person influencing their partner’s views compared to a climate expert or famous communicator, given the level of familiarity, comfort, and trust that ideally exists between them. Climate conversations at the household level are vital to making this issue even more grounded and understandable, which is critical for a nation like the Philippines that has a strong familial culture yet has low levels of properly comprehending the climate crisis.

Of course, being climate and environmentally-conscious is not the only factor when it comes to love, for singles searching for it or couples that have found it. Yet with the climate crisis potentially becoming worse over time without the much-needed ending of the fossil fuel era, it would increasingly influence how we view, express, and embody it in our words and actions, whether we are aware of it or not.

Nonetheless, there is one thing that loving someone and acting against the climate crisis have in common: we choose to commit to it for the sake of our future. It is my hope we make the right choice. –

John Leo Algo is the National Coordinator of Aksyon Klima Pilipinas and the Deputy Executive Director for Programs and Campaigns of Living Laudato Si’ Philippines. He is also a member of the Youth Advisory Group for Environmental and Climate Justice under the UNDP in Asia and the Pacific. 

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