Will Reduced Work Hours Really Slow Climate Change?

Time SpiralHere’s a question that you may not have been asked in a while: When’s the last time that you took out a moment or two (or even a day or two) to just sit back and relax? You know, just put your feet up on a couch with your favorite magazine or the remote (so that you can watch your favorite movie) while doing absolutely nothing?

If you’re someone who feels somewhat guilty on those rare occasions that you do, the truth is that it can be really beneficial for your health to make it a point to rest more. It helps to keep your blood pressure down, it lowers your stress levels (which helps to keep other physical ailments at bay) and, according to some other recent studies, it is also good for the environment.

Due the recent news surrounding China’s capital Beijing and its record-breaking smog that has caused insurmountable health issues, the world has been focusing more on the high cost that comes with production. As a matter of fact, the pollution has gotten so bad in Beijing that the government has stepped in and actually closed some factories down while reducing the operation hours of others. The logic in these decisions is the less that people are at work, the less emissions that are going into the atmosphere and that results in a significant reduction of health problems.

Beijing is not the only place that has come to this resolve. David Rosnick is an economist who authored a study that was recently released by the Center for Economic Policy and Research. According to some of his findings, by shortening the amount of hours that everyone works, it will contribute to diminishing carbon emissions so much that the earth’s expected temperature in 2100 could be cut in half.

Rosnick believes that if more countries followed Europe’s work model that includes less output and lower emissions rather than America’s standard 40 hours per week with one week vacation one, the environment would be all the better for it.

Of course, if more companies were to reduce their hours and people did spend more leisure time, they would have to be responsible in how they use it. In other words, it won’t be much help to the environment if everyone would rather drive their cars than ride their bicycles on their off days. Indeed, everyone would still have to make conscious energy efficient choices when they’re “off of the clock” for this to be effective.

Also, if countries did decide to do something this drastic, their economic climate would have to be taken into serious consideration before fully committing to this kind of work structure. Not everyone can afford to work less hours and still live comfortably.

Still, whether you’re the CEO of a company, a student at UC MSN or a stay-at-home mom, this is still something to think about. The timing of Beijing’s smog crisis along with Mr. Rosnick’s findings definitely serve as a blaring reminder that sometimes less really is more.

So, if your job still has you working full-time hours, at least consider reading a book or talking a walk during the little bit of leisure time that you have. It would appear that you won’t just be doing yourself a favor, but the environment too.