Green Escapology Anyone?

Worried about the planet dying? I bloody am.

Happily, Escapologists who vowed a long time ago to work less (if at all) are at least on the right side of things. We’ve intuitively known for a long time that work and consumption are responsible for global warming and plastic soup and all the rest of it. I mean it’s obvious really, isn’t it?

So let’s tell the others: work less, save the planet.

A good piece by Andre Spicer in today’s Guardian puts it thus:

By working less, we produce fewer goods and services that require precious resources to make. We also consume less in the process of getting our job done. Less work means less carbon-intensive commuting, less energy-sucking office space, and less time on power-hungry computer systems. In addition, working less would help to break down the work-spend cycle. 

It’s encouraging that people are slowly starting to wake up to this and to take [in]action. There have been studies to investigate the correlation between work and carbon footprint, as reported in Spicer’s piece:

According to a cluster of recent studies, working less is good for the environment.

One analysis found that if we spent 10% less time working, our carbon footprint would be reduced by 14.6%. If we cut the hours we work by 25% – or a day and a quarter each week – our carbon footprint would decline by 36.6%.

Another study found that if people in the US (who work notoriously long hours) worked similar hours to Europeans (who work much less), then they would consume about 20% less energy.

A more recent analysis of US states found a strong positive relationship between the number of hours people worked and their carbon emissions. The more they worked, the more they polluted.

Working a four-day week, rather than, say, taking more holidays or working fewer hours each day, was a great way of reducing your environmental impact. The exact magnitude of that reduction is unclear, but the research seems to point in the same direction: lowering the number of hours we work would help to reduce our impact on the environment.

Actual studies exist now to provide a research basis for what we could call Green Escapology.

Then again, when you remember that “work expends energy” is pretty much the basis of Physics, one wonders how much more science is needed for the message to be taken seriously.

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