Time off isn’t so much a luxury, new research argues, as an urgent necessity. Working long hours on the job is bad for your health, raising your risk of stroke, heart attack, and depression. And to top it off, it’s also bad for the planet.
According to a paper from Autonomy, a future-focused think tank in the U.K, the number of hours spent working every week needs to be slashed in the absence of larger efforts to decarbonize our economies. The report found that working hours in high-income countries like the US “vastly exceed the levels that might be considered sustainable.” Sure, productivity sounds like a good thing, but making stuff and keeping offices humming results in a bunch of climate-warming pollution. Oh, and don’t forget about all that gas we burn driving to work and back every day!
This is the most recent in a growing list of studies that suggest shorter work weeks could lower our carbon dioxide emissions. One found that a 1 percent decrease in work hours could shrink the carbon footprint of several high-income countries by nearly 1.5 percent. These numbers are pretty much just an exercise in perspective. Calling in sick four days a week isn’t going to get us out of the climate crisis — at least, not by itself. But cutting down on the daily grind can be done, and it could complement more stringent climate policies.