The Newspaper of the San Francisco Bay Chapter
May - June 2007
Letter to the editor:
Work less, consume less
Your issue on global warming focuses on alternative energy, but to stabilize world climate, we also need to give people the option of downshifting economically - of working shorter hours and living more simply.
During the twentieth century, America's productivity (output per worker hour) increased an average of over 2.3% a year, an eight-fold increase during the century. There is little or no chance of reducing carbon dioxide emissions enough to stabilize world climate if per capita output increases at this rate during the twenty-first century.
The alternative to this hyper-growth economy is to give people the option of working shorter hours. Let people choose to take increased productivity in the form of more free time rather than in the form of more output. Germany and the Netherlands already have national policies that give workers this choice.
A recent survey by the Center for the New American Dream found that half of all American full-time workers would prefer to work 4 days a week and earn 80% of their salary. These people would be happier if they could downshift economically and have more time for their families and their own interests - but they do not have this choice. Almost all of the good jobs that are available require you to work full time.
We need to move toward simpler living to stabilize world climate, but simple living has little chance of spreading as long as people do not even have the choice of working shorter hours - of having more time instead of more money.
For more information about work time and global warming, including a summary of a study showing that the increase of global temperatures would almost be halved if the world followed a European rather than an American model of work hours, see www.preservenet.com/studies/WorkTimeGlobalWarming.html. If you are interested in helping to promote choice of work hours, please contact me through this web site.
© 2007 San Francisco Sierra Club Yodeler
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