In this holiday-intensive season, many are deep into boxing day sales, glittery tops for New Year’s parties and exchanging unwanted christmas gifts. But what footprint does our holiday consumption leave behind, environmentally and socially? By now, most people are well aware of the climate crisis and the importance of stopping over-consumption and radically reducing C02 emissions. Many have switched habits and traditions to greener alternatives, such as buying Christmas presents second hand and replacing traditional meat orgies with more environmentally friendly vegan holiday food. Changing consumption has a positive impact on the environment, but what are its effects on happiness and well-being? New research shows that consuming less also makes us happier.
A Canadian research report Buying well-being: Spending behaviour and happiness shows that people who choose experiences and leisure over material things say they are happier and more satisfied with their lives than others. Experiences seem to increase the sense of meaning in life more than material possessions, which can quickly lose their allure. There are many different ways to approach a life with fewer possessions. Thinning out excesses and choosing simplicity and minimalism are actions that contribute to reducing consumption while increasing the sense of well-being. Voluntary simplicity can include cutting down on working hours and reducing financial dependency by living in a smaller home, ditching the car and taking public transport or cycling, buying second-hand, growing your own food and much more. Simplicity is not the same as poverty. It is a conscious choice to live with fewer possessions and focus on quality of life. The European study Does less working time improve life satisfaction was published this year in the journal Health Economics Review. The results show that people who work less and cut back on consumption are less preoccupied with fashion trends and measuring themselves against others. Many people, particularly those in the middle class, feel they have more control over their lives and are less stressed. The distribution of income across countries is usually expressed in terms of a Gini coefficient, where a low value means less income inequality and a high value means more. Zhang and Churchill’s study Income inequality and subjective well being from China, 2020 shows that people in societies with lower Gini coefficients feel happier than people in societies with greater income inequality. In 2020, Sweden’s gini coefficient was 26.9, lower than the EU average of 30.8 and much lower than China’s 46.6. Sweden and the other Nordic countries also consistently top the list of countries in the world where people feel happiest. The ability to choose to cut back to avoid getting stuck in a merry-go-round of jobs, shopping, debt and pressure is a good foundation for a good and happy life.
Our New Year’s resolutions can reduce the environmental footprint we leave behind, while making us feel happier and more satisfied with our lives. In the local community, replacing some of our consumption with spending more time with family and friends, has both environmental and social dividends. At the societal level, people in countries with high levels of well-being and equality have every opportunity to redesign their lives. New Year’s Eve is an excellent opportunity to reflect on how well we are doing and decide to live so that future generations can enjoy similarly good lives.
That the ultra-rich are responsible for the lion’s share of carbon emissions is gaining a wider coverage in the media. But why are we so apathetic in demanding them to change and so eager to adjust our own (carbon insignificant) lives?
Oxfam International recently released a comprehensive report into carbon emissions by income group concluding that the richest 1% emit more than double the carbon of the poorest 50%. Thinking this was a surefire way to start a recreational outrage discussion on how to de-rich this problematic carbon emitting group, I posted a link to my Facebook asking if any of my friends had good ideas for tackling climate change. To my surprise the discussion was more around things we could do in our everyday lives: one of my friends commented ‘Eating locally and organically produced food!‘ another commented that the current debate environment was not conducive to reducing carbon emissions, while yet another commented about building atmospheric processors to reverse greenhouse gas emissions. To give the discussion justice one of my friends, Henner, did comment ‘Eat the rich?’ which received a lot of likes, but the overwhelming focus missed the cash-shaming, de-richification discussion I had expected.
In the EU the top 1% of households have carbon footprints over 50 tCO2eq/cap while the bottom 50% has less than 5 tCO2eq/cap. Only 5% of the EU households live within a carbon footprint target of 2.5 tCO2eq/cap needed to mitigate climate change, according to Diana Ivanova and Richard Wood. This indicates that – yes – we should focus on reducing everyone’s carbon footprint, but there are significant environmental gains to be made by reducing the carbon footprints of the ultra-rich. But if we don’t provide any pressure or incentives I’m not sure the ultra-rich are inclined to stop spewing carbon into the atmosphere – I mean they are the ones who can afford to pop off to mars and leave us suckers here to deal with droughts, flooding, hurricanes, fires and goodness knows what else the climate change gods have in store for us.
I wonder how we could change narratives around changing individual behaviour and focus on reducing carbon emissions of the ultra-rich?
Since finishing my PhD I have been working a lot: applying for funding, writing papers, organising conferences, teaching, teaching, teaching, keeping an eye out for a contract longer than 6 months… And then two women I look up to suddenly left academia. Two women who glided effortlessly through challenges, generously shared teaching material and always had time for an encouraging word, without warning got ‘real’ jobs. Well maybe there were warnings: long long hours, bosses on sick leave, increasing student loads… Wistfully wondering if it’s worth it, I stumbled on this piece that sums up my feelings perfectly. By Matilda Dahl on Curie (my (a bit aussie) translation).
Tjejgänget som försvann
The girl gang that vanished
Jag läser ett studentpapper, en kvinnlig student har lämnat in något riktigt modigt, begävat och briljant. Jag försöker att enbart glädjas och mota undan vemodet. Men det kryper sig gärna på, just precis då. Det där vemodet. För de är ju så många, de smarta tjejerna i studentgrupperna. Men inte på professorsstolarna, inte högre upp i hierarkin, inte på listorna över dem som leder stora projekt, som får de stora pengarna där är de få, kvinnorna.
I’m reading a student paper, a female student has submitted something really brave, talented and brilliant. I try to be only glad and stop the wistfulness. But it creeps in, just then. That wistfulness. Because they are so many, the smart girls – in the student groups. But not in the professor’s halls, not higher up in the hierarchy, not on the lists of those who lead the big projects, who get the big money – there they are few and far between, the women.
Alltför många av mina begåvade kvinnliga kolleger, finns inte längre kvar i akademin. Det talas om glastak, men jag vet inte om de slog i något tak. Däremot öppnade de dörren och gick helt självmant ut, för de ville inte vara kvar. Ett kompetenstapp utan dess like.
Too many of my talented female colleagues are no longer in academia. They talk about glass ceilings, but I don’t know if my colleagues hit any ceilings. Rather, they opened the door and went out of their own accord, because they did not want to stay. A competence drain like no other.
Vi var liksom ett helt gäng tjejer som doktorerade ungefär samtidigt som lärde känna varandra
We were like a whole gang of girls who did our PhDs around the same time who got to know each other
Alla hade vi fått frågan: Skulle inte du som är så duktig vilja doktorera? Uppmuntrade sökte vi och blev antagna Så spännande!
We had all been asked the question: You are so smart, wouldn’t you like to do a PhD? Encouraged, we applied and were accepted So exciting!
Vi Åkte på konferenser Jobbade i projekt Tillsammans Ibland nära ibland långtifrån Några delade kontor Några delade lägenhet Några började rida ihop
We Went to conferences Worked on projects Together Sometimes near sometimes far away Some shared offices Some shared apartments Some started riding together
Åt middagar Fikade Tog ett glas öl
Pratade i timtal Om våra handledare Om seminarier Om våra avhandlingar Om kärlek
Ate dinners Sipped coffee Drank beer
Talked for hours About our supervisors About seminars About our theses About love
Ett gäng tjejer i akademin Som skrev och skrev och skrev 1000 ord per dag Det var vårt motto Var duktiga flickor Grymt duktiga flickor faktiskt Några jobbade nästan jämt Andra väldigt mycket Ingen var lat eller ovillig eller obegåvad Tvärtom faktiskt Vi tog det hela på stort allvar Hade höga ambitioner Vi skrev klart våra avhandlingar De blev bra
A gang of girls in academia Who wrote and wrote and wrote 1000 words per day That was our motto Be good girls Bloody good girls actually Some worked almost always Others a lot No one was lazy or reluctant or dumb Rather the opposite We took it all very seriously Had high ambitions We finished our dissertations They were good
Några blev klara i rekordfart får att komma ifrån för att lämna det akademiska så fort det bara gick Andra hade det inte lika dåligt tog lite längre tid på sig att skriva klart
Some finished in record time to get away to leave academia just as soon as possible Others did not have it as rough and took a little longer to finish writing
Fick stipendium, tjänst, Jobbade dagar, kvällar, helger Ingick i olika sammanhang För det var ju så roligt Också
Got stipendiums, jobs, Worked days, evenings, weekends Participated in various groups Because it was so much fun Also
Några av dem som lämnade kom sen tillbaka Deras ansökningar beviljades medel en fot i akademin en utanför
Some of them left then came back Their applications granted funding one foot in the academy one outside
Frågan som alltid återkom: Hos oss alla Är det vårt det att vara kvar?
The question that always returned: To all of us Is it worth it to stay?
Frågan som aldrig ställdes Till någon Vad kan vi göra för att Du ska vilja vara kvar?
The question that was never asked Of any of us What can we do to make you want to stay?
Nu är det snart ingen i gänget kvar
Soon there won’t be anyone left in the gang
För nästan alla i mitt gamla tjejgäng har nu lämnat Akademin
For nearly everyone in my old girl gang has now left Academia
Trots att de från början ville Trots att de gillade och var bra på Att forska, skriva, undervisa, få pengar Allt det där man ska vara bra på Så var det inte värt det Att vara kvar
Despite initially wanting it Despite liking it and being good at Researching, writing, teaching, getting funding All the things you should be good at Yet it was not worth it To stay
Human population has wide ranging and often negative consequences for the natural environment. Population stability and decreasing fertility have thus been heralded as promising for sustainability. However, household size has been decreasing steadily in both developed and developing countries, at an accelerating pace, since the 1980s. The European Union (EU) leads this trend, with nearly a third of total households consisting of single residents. As a result of more people living alone with associated higher consumption, slowing population growth has resulted in neither fewer residences nor decelerating human impact on the environment. This MC-IF aims to investigate the trend toward living alone and create new knowledge about environmental impacts of different household configurations, drivers for different occupancy trends and alternative sustainable housing configurations. The research will be carried out in three phases, firstly by using existing population, housing and consumption databases; secondly be interviewing both high and low impact single resident households and finally by studying low impact household configurations in-depth. This will provide new knowledge on: how different household configurations impact sustainability; why people choose to live in different various configurations; and drivers and barriers for emerging sustainable alternatives. This knowledge will be valuable for policy makers planning sustainable urban environments. During period of training the ER will: Acquire specialised knowledge on sociology of consumption; deepen her mixed methods analysis; improve her multicultural and team communications skills; have policy impact; and publish scientific articles in international journals.
Jag bÃ¶rjade i skolan 1952. PÃ¥ den tiden fanns det skolradio dÃ¤r man tog upp olika saker som man ansÃ¥gÂ viktiga fÃ¶r barnen. Vid varje terminsstart fick barnen ett skolradiohÃ¤fte dÃ¤r man kunde se nÃ¤r olika program skulle sÃ¤ndas och fÃ¶r vilken klass de var avsedda. Jag lÃ¤rde mig att lÃ¤sa tidigt och lÃ¤ste i fÃ¶rvÃ¤g i skolradiohÃ¤ftena om vilka program som skulle komma under terminen. NÃ¤r jag gick i andra klass sÃ¥g jag att det skulle det komma ett program om vikten av att hÃ¥lla sig ren. Det fanns nÃ¥gra frÃ¥gor som skulle stÃ¤llas till barnen och dÃ¤ribland en frÃ¥ga om man hade tvÃ¤ttat halsen pÃ¥ morgonen innan man gick till skolan. Jag memorerade noga datumet fÃ¶r detta skolradioprogram och nÃ¤r den dagen var inne blÃ¶tte jag hÃ¤nderna i samband med tandborstningen och drog de vÃ¥ta hÃ¤nderna runt halsen. Jag hade alltsÃ¥ redan klÃ¤derna pÃ¥ men jag ville kunna svara ja pÃ¥ frÃ¥gan om halstvÃ¤tten fast den blev ju inte sÃ¥ noggrann. Mycket riktigt, nÃ¤r frÃ¥gan stÃ¤lldes av lÃ¤raren efter att vi lyssnat pÃ¥ radion var det bara jag som svarade ja.
Annika RullgÃ¥rd sent me some stories she remembers from her childhood. One of them tells an episode from Annikaâ€™s second year in school, 1953. In those years the SwedishÂ Radio broadcast special programs about topics of importance for pupils.Â All the pupilsÂ were given theÂ broadcasting schedule. Annika browsedÂ aheadÂ through the schedule andÂ noticedÂ an upcoming program about how to keep oneself clean in the days when a bathroom was not a commonÂ convenience.Â With eachÂ program there were a number of questions to be answered.Â One of the questionsÂ askedÂ whetherÂ the pupils had washedÂ theirÂ necksÂ before going to school. Annika carefully memorized the dateÂ ofÂ this program, and on that dayÂ after brushing her teeth, she wet her hands and rubbed them quickly around her neck. The neckÂ had beenÂ washed, at leastÂ somewhat. After the radio programÂ hadÂ ended, the teacher asked the pupils if they had washed their necks before going to school. Annika was the only one who answered yes
Nearly a year since I sent my dissertation to the printers and I am still wondering if I can hack it in academia. The feeling of not hacking it has been a constant companion. After nearly every supervisory meeting during my Phd I left with the feeling of ‘fuck how did I manage to trick them again’ right-up until the sleepless crescendo of my pre-print-proof seminar where I was convinced my supervisors would pull the plug. A year later, and still tenuously staying in academia, I wonder what even is hacking it?
Right now my working situation could be described as academic. I have a 50% 6-month teaching contract at MalmÃ¶ Uni. I am also casually employed by Lund University and have been hopping in for various subjects from feminist theory to qualitative data analysis. I have written 24 post-doc application and been rejected from 20 (I hear about one I wrote back in April next week). I also have a writing fellowship at SASNET which means an extra desk and set of colleagues… and pressure to publish. I have worked nearly every Saturday since August. Hacking it, from my experiences this year, means saying yes to a broad range of interesting experiences, and working hard.
Looking ahead to role-models further up the hackierarchy I can see two tendencies. Well, maybe three. The first is to obtain tenure and then do the minimum in order to hack having a personal life as well. These charming but increasingly rare professors who go out for lunch and leave the office at 5pm. The second role model is engaged with a wide range of interesting initiatives. Those professors who you can ask for comments on your applications, who come to seminars, who organize trips for the students, the beloved super-humans. And perhaps a third growing category is those on stress-leave.
What does hacking it have to do with academia then? What does it mean that it is only alpha type humans who actively publish research? Is it possible to take into account experiences and world views from those who can’t hack it? Is it possible to create knowledge by all for all?
My research about washing less has appeared in a few places recently: P4, Allers and Hufvudstadsbladet. I usually get a few emails following these, and I’m always very interested to hear how people interpret what I’ve done and relate it to what they are doing. Once you say something and it goes out into the world you really have no control over what sense people make of it. Which is why knowledge creation is so democratic and exciting in many ways. But I digress. A responses to a radio interview I did recently arrived in the post, scrupulously hand-written on beautiful card, and I just want to say thank you. Thank you to everyone who takes the time to reflect over what I’ve been saying, thank you to all the people involved in imagining a better future and thank you to all the people actively engaged in making a more sustainable future possible.