In a welcome sacrifice for the good of the planet, a United Nations’ International Resource Panel study found that saving the environment may require people work fewer hours in the future. A growing middle class has led to a rapid pace of raw material extraction around the globe, which has tripled over the past 40 years. Thus, more efficient use of the planet’s remaining resources is necessary to stave off grave environmental consequences.
In other words, the global economy will need to make huge improvements in material and energy efficiencies in order to provide housing, food, electricity, water and modern consumer goods to a growing world population with aspirations for middle-class comforts. To address this issue, policy recommendations from the study call for transformative changes that include a reduction in work hours, as well as to price raw materials in a way that accounts for the social and economic costs of extraction.