Sierra Club Touts Economic ‘De-Growth’: ‘We have to de-grow our economy’ to ‘temper climate disruption, and foster a stable, equitable world economy’ – ‘WORK LESS TO LIVE MORE’


Think slow food, but for your whole life

In the last century, public opinion has shifted from deeming a 40-hour workweek scandalously short to hailing it as a triumph of modern labor. Now, with a faltering global economy and human population projections creeping toward 10 billion by 2050, some researchers are calling for a change that might be considered blasphemous: a 20- to 30-hour full-time workweek.

Resistance is inevitable, but as history shows, so is change. Reducing individual workloads and distributing the hours among more people could increase personal well-being, temper climate disruption, and foster a stable, equitable world economy, according to the New Economics Foundation in London and the Worldwatch Institute in Washington, D.C.

“There’s no such thing as sustainable growth, not in a country like the U.S.,” Worldwatch senior fellow Erik Assadourian says. “We have to de-grow our economy, which is obviously not a popular stance to take in a culture that celebrates growth in all forms. But as the saying goes, if everyone consumed like Americans, we’d need four planets.”

Whether you move to a smaller house or an apartment, downsize to one or no car, or simply have fewer lattes to-go, a smaller paycheck could reduce consumption overall.

“If we had a livable wage and could each work a 20-hour week,” Assadourian says, “we’d have time to choose more sustainable options that are also better for ourselves.”

Maybe we’d even like it. We could cook dinner instead of unwrapping and microwaving it, Assadourian suggests, or hang laundry to dry, which would cut electricity use and let us spend time in the sun.

Anna Coote, head of social policy at the New Economics Foundation, argues that we should work less and use that time whittling away at a more joyful life. “Why do we work? What do we do with the money we earn?” she asks. “Can we begin to think differently about how much we need—to get out of the fast lane and live life at a more sustainable pace, to do things that are better for the planet, better for ourselves?”

Shorter workweeks could mean more time for psychologically gratifying pursuits such as gardening, reading, or biking.

Of course, most of us don’t have the luxury of choosing to become enlightened minimalists. We’ll likely need at least a higher minimum wage, healthcare that’s not dependent on a 40-hour work week, and a more progressive income tax, Assadourian says.

“We know that when an economy isn’t growing, you tend to get a fallout of higher unemployment,” Coote says. “So you have to spread the work around more evenly.”

The foundation’s 2013 book Time on Our Side: Why We All Need a Shorter Working Week, coedited by Coote, explores how to transition to a 30-hour-or-less workweek, from starting young people in the workforce at fewer hours to shaving an hour a week off of older workers’ schedules each year.

Coote says the concept could also benefit employers. Having more than one employee be adept at a task buffers an organization from the effects of people getting sick or quitting. Increased personal time also makes for chipper, more productive employees.


Related Links: 

‘A planned economic recession’: Global warming prof. Kevin Anderson – who has ‘cut back on showering’ to save planet – asserts economic ‘de-growth’ is needed to fight climate change — Anderson: ‘Continuing with economic growth over the coming two decades is incompatible with meeting our international obligations on climate change’ – Put simply, for the wealthier nations, ‘the necessary levels of 2°C mitigation and short-to-medium term economic growth are incompatible’



25 Responses

  1. Looks more like a message to Sierra Club employees that they’ve found a win-win situation for their staff; employees get a 3 day work week and the Sierra Club eliminates its health care plan.

  2. More socialist/environmentalist B.S.

    “Move into a one room (or smaller) apartment. Ride a bicycle. Eat one meal a day (vegan, of course!). Make your own soap out of lye and hand-wash your one pair of pants (made from hemp, of course) in recycled toilet water. Try to breathe less (to reduce your Co2 pollution). Die at an early age to reduce population growth.”

    As to WORK, who needs to WORK? Didn’t Nan Pelosi say something about eschewing work and you’d have more time to write poems or learn to play the bongos? Don’t worry about money. The government will give you money. They have lots of their own, and want to “spread the wealth” around. Marijuana use is also highly encouraged. That way, all this crap will make perfect sense.

    Yeah…these folks are your FRIENDS!

    1. Those are pretty Bourg. salaries. Cut them to zero, strip them of all assets. They should be comfortable working in the nude and eating other people’s recycled food.

  3. This is, without question, the biggest WACK-JOB article I’ve ever come across… These fruit-loops have NO grasp of economic reality — what they advocate for wouldn’t lead to more satisfaction, but instead to starvation, power outages, massive poverty, and the complete decline of civil society…. Good lord, these people are DANGEROUS…. That they exist at all should terrify the entire planet.

  4. I’m sure all the heads of the Sierra Club are living a poverty lifestyle…. NOT!

    Deborah Sorondo

    Carl Pope
    Chairman (2010)

    Michael Brune
    Director (2010)
    not yet reported

    Louis Barnes

    Bruce Hamilton
    Deputy Exec Director

    David Simon
    Director Info & Communication

    Gregory Haegele
    Dir of Conservation

    Hamilton Leong

    Laura Hoehn
    General Counsel

    Shari Morfin
    Dir of Finance

  5. The best way to reduce birth rates in the third world is for the third world to fully develop to first world standards. For this they need energy, not crappy wind power but real energy that comes from coal, oil and gas. Some envorinmentalists claim that 500,000,000 is the optimum level of population. OK so which 6.5Bn do you want to kill off? Me, I don’t want any to die just develop.

  6. If only we could get them to believe in evolution, survival of the fittest. Then I’d be happy for them to work less and the income “gap” to grow, with me and other hard-working realists on the fat side of that and the environmentalist-whackos starving to death.

    1. The work they have to do is much more valuable to society than any of the work we dweebs do in our junk jobs. There is no one with their intelligence and skill sets, plus their compassionate caring about all living things and, of course, the planet that can do the things they do. They are indispensable so they haven’t yet found a way to cut their hours below the 16 per week they now do.

      But they’ve been telling us for years the joy that people who live in impoverished regions enjoy and how great their lives are. We should have listened years ago.

  7. These progressives are seriously crazy. They all seem to live in a world of their own making. Let’s make a new livable living wage! How does anyone living in the real world make something more valuable than it really is.

    Why don’t they all go to a mountaintop somewhere and have a koolaid party Jim Jones style. Gosh.

  8. just could not be more simple, population growth means economic growth is required. Japan shows de-growth can work, when aging and de-population demographics dictate.
    The democratic Capitalist West is not adding to World Population but growing to give the people it has already got a fair slice of the pie and though the job is not done they are nearly there.
    It is known there is a link between population growth and poverty. It is known that poverty is caused by runaway Govt. corruption. Stop the corruption and you stop the Environmental threats in the non democs who make up two thirds of the Worlds Nations.

  9. Cave dwelling, I have been told by environmentalists, is very nice once you drive off the bear. If you or your friends like living in caves that’s their right, the Neanderthal life style is not for me. I like the modern convinces like, electricity, TV, Internet, indoor heating & plumbing, modern medicine & dentistry, metal tools, an electric refrigerator/freezer to store food, having a wide verity of cooked food, manufactured cloths to wear and a dry clean bed to sleep in. I have no desire to work 12 hours days on a subsistence farm working year around so I don’t starve. That is back breaking labor that makes you old by 40 and dead by 50.

  10. This plan would be lovely. My current employer did quite the opposite. My full-time hours remain unchanged, however, they shortened hours to perform full time duties to 3.5 and farmed me out to a local district to help their Secretary. I had chest pains most of this time due to stringent state and federal timelines. Three months later I suffered a stroke.

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