Workaholics, especially American ones, are ruining the planet

Now here’s a theory we can get behind: workaholism is ruining the earth. “We are proudly breaking our backs to decrease the carrying capacity of the planet,” says Conrad Schmidt, proponent of the 32-hour work week, who declares that overwork leads to overconsumption, pollution, and less fulfilling life experience. If there’s anyone who needs to take the message to heart, it’s Americans, who work more hours than anyone else in the industrialized world — a full 500 hours more per year than Germans. Not coincidentally, the U.S. is also the world’s largest polluter and produces half the world’s solid waste, and a paper issued by the Center for Economic and Policy Research finds that Europeans would consume up to 30 percent more energy by 2050 if they worked like Americans. Says CEPR co-director Mark Weisbrot, “Because there’s no limit to what we can consume, a change of values has to take place if the planet stands a chance of survival.” We’re taking the rest of the day off.