Some climate researchers and economists are suggesting Americans should work less in order to protect the environment, according to The Washington Post.
Academics and economists say working only four days a week benefits the climate because people will consume 20% less energy and produce a 12.1% lower ecological footprint by reducing their day-to-day activities, according to The Washington Post. They use European work standards as an example for Americans to follow, and cite COVID-19 lockdowns as an example of people benefiting the environment by not working.
A University of Massachusetts Amherst study predicts that if work hours were reduced by 10%, ecological footprint, carbon footprint and carbon dioxide emissions could drop by 12.1%, 14.6% and 4.2% respectively. This is because an extra day off work will give people more free time to adopt “environmentally friendly” habits and “get used” to a lower consumption lifestyle, suggested Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in an interview with The Washington Post.
“The one thing we do know from lots of years of data and various papers and so forth is that the countries with short hours of work tend to be the ones with low emissions, and work time reductions tend to be associated with emission reduction,” added Boston College economist and sociologist Juliet Schor. She credited the need to travel less for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“Well, if all you do is say, ‘OK, we’re gonna move from a five-day to a four-day work week, what makes you think that Americans are all just going to sit at home and do nothing on that fifth day when they would’ve normally been working?” responded EJ Antoni, an economist at the Heritage Foundation, in an interview with the Daily Caller News Foundation. “They can still go out, they can go shopping, they can travel, they can do whatever. This idea that somehow you’re going to decrease commuting without increasing any other type of transportation just doesn’t really seem to make much sense.”
During the pandemic, global emissions decreased when lockdown orders were enforced across the world, The Washington Post noted.
“They cite the pandemic as if somehow, that was a good time,” Antoni told the DCNF.
The COVID-19-related lockdowns caused the worst global economic downturn since the Great Depression, according to the International Monetary Fund. July’s GDP report revealed Americans are currently facing a recession again.
“One of the things that has been really disturbing in the labor market recently, is we’re seeing the number of hours worked on average for full-time employees go down. We’re seeing productivity go down,” Antoni said.
But in the U.S., inflation is increasing and real wages have fallen, Antoni responded.
Weisbrot and Schor did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for further comment.
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