Save the world: Don't work so hard
That they actually spent money to study this issue is just one more sign that the end of the world is just around the corner.
The Center for Economic Policy and Research has determined that if we all worked fewer hours - just like the Europeans - we could save the planet from global warming.
A worldwide switch to a "more European" work schedule, which includes working fewer hours and more vacation time, could prevent as much as half of the expected global temperature rise by 2100, according to the analysis, which used a 2012 study that found shorter work hours could be associated with lower carbon emissions.
The Center for Economic Policy and Research is a liberal think tank based in Washington.
"The relationship between [shorter work and lower emissions] is complex and clearly understood, but it is understandable that lowering levels of consumption, holding everything else constant, would reduce greenhouse gas emissions," writes economist David Rosnick, author of the study. Rosnick says some of that reduction can be attributed to fewer operating hours in factories and other workplaces that consume high levels of energy.
Rosnick says that as developing countries' economies grow, they have two choices-they can have a "European" work schedule, or an "American" schedule of little vacation and 40-hour work weeks.
"There's a lot of controversy-should the developing world follow an American or European model?," he says. "If the world were to follow a more European model of work, we would expect fewer hours, less output, and lower emissions of greenhouse gases."
Rosnick says a move toward the European system would result in a trade-off of up to one quarter of income gains in exchange for increased leisure time and vacation. His best-case scenario, which predicts prevention of up to a 1.3 degree Celsius temperature increase, assumes that Americans would begin working about 0.5 percent less each year, starting with a 10-hour reduction in 2013. "We can get a similar amount of work done as productivity and technology improves," he says. "It's something we have to decide as a country-there are economic models in which individuals get to decide their hours and are still similarly productive as they are now."
We are already the most productive country in the world - and the hardest working. It isn't that Americans don't like to go on vacations, it's that many ambitious, up and comers wouldn't dare take a week away from the office or the shop. Many of us take a few days at a time, wrapping a 3 day weekend with an extra day off. There are also many workers who need that overtime to make ends meet.
Sorry, guys, but cutting hours from the workweek isn't part of the American character.