MCAT CARS: Would Working Less Reduce our Carbon Footprint?

CARS 70: MCAT CARS: Would Working Less Reduce our Carbon Footprint?

Session 70

Can we save the planet by switching to a four-day workweek? The author of today’s MCAT CARS practice passage thinks so!

As always, we’re joined by Jack Westin, the online premiere MCAT CARS tutor. Check out all our other podcasts on Meded Media including The Premed Years Podcast, The OldPreMeds Podcast, Specialty Stories, and others. We’re dedicated to helping you on your journey into and through medical school.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

Link to article:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/21/help-the-planet-work-a-four-day-week

When the Extinction Rebellion protesters took to the streets, I was doubtful about how effective their tactics would be in creating meaningful change. Fortunately, I have been proven wrong. Following their protests, the public now sees the climate crisis as a pressing issue. According to a recent survey, nearly 70% of people in the UK want urgent action on the climate emergency. Many political leaders are listening. In one of her last acts as prime minister, Theresa May set the target of the UK achieving zero carbon emissions by 2050. Although the date for zero carbon could be much sooner, it is an important step in the right direction.

However, to achieve a more ecologically sustainable economy, changing minds will not be enough, we need to change behaviours. Small tweaks such as not using plastic straws or minimising food waste will make some difference. But if we hope to make real progress, we need to make bigger alterations in what we do. One behaviour change that will have a positive impact on the environment is a four-day working week.

According to a cluster of recent studies, working less is good for the environment. One analysis found that if we spent 10% less time working, our carbon footprint would be reduced by 14.6%. If we cut the hours we work by 25% – or a day and a quarter each week – our carbon footprint would decline by 36.6%. Another study found that if people in the US (who work notoriously long hours) worked similar hours to Europeans (who work much less), then they would consume about 20% less energy. A more recent analysis of US states found a strong positive relationship between the number of hours people worked and their carbon emissions. The more they worked, the more they polluted. Working a four-day week, rather than, say, taking more holidays or working fewer hours each day, was a great way of reducing your environmental impact. The exact magnitude of that reduction is unclear, but the research seems to point in the same direction: lowering the number of hours we work would help to reduce our impact on the environment.

By working less, we produce fewer goods and services that require precious resources to make. We also consume less in the process of getting our job done. Less work means less carbon-intensive commuting, less energy-sucking office space, and less time on power-hungry computer systems. In addition, working less would help to break down the work-spend cycle. Fewer hours at work mean we have more time to do other things such as travelling, preparing food or fixing broken household items. We are also less likely to rely on environmentally costly timesavers such as high-speed travel or takeaway food delivered in plastic containers by someone riding a motorbike.

But reducing the number of working hours would not guarantee a cut in environmental emissions. It could actually be bad for the climate if people used their newfound free time to do things which were more environmentally harmful. Instead of working, they could travel long distances on holiday or hit the shops. The good news is that there is some evidence that when people are given time off, they tend to gravitate towards low environmental impact activities. When France instituted a 35-hour working week in 2000, people developed less materialistic values and tended to use their free time with their families, resting or participating in sports or cultural events.

[02:30] Last Minute Prep for CARS

'You can't be desperate and be in that mental state if you want to do well.'Click To Tweet

If you’re worried to the point where you’re just panicking, you’re not in a good mental state to take this test. Because CARS, along with the entire test, is a reasoning-based exam.

And if you’re panicking, you can’t think well. It’s the same way that you’re not advised to drive when you’re upset or operate heavy machinery. Because your mind is literally not where it needs to be.

The best advice is to not take it if you’re not fully prepared. It doesn’t mean you have to be 100% before you take it. But you should know the basics. You should have a rough strategy on how to read passages and answer questions.

[04:05] How to Best Prepare for CARS and the MCAT

Have some consistent strategy that you use to answer questions whether it’s CARS or the sciences. You have to be honest with yourself and what you want. If you can do those things then you’d be better off on this test.

A lot of the MCAT is really about maturity. It’s not about intelligence. Students take this the wrong way. Everyone is smart and mature in their own way. But to do well on this test, you have to be very aware of yourself.

Students who are more mature are more honest with themselves and more willing to do the right thing. They’re aware of their role in society and what they want to accomplish. So they try their best to get there with a levelheaded attitude.

'The MCAT is not out to get you. It's just trying to prepare you for the next stage which is more rigorous than anything you've ever handled in your life.'Click To Tweet

At some point, scores matter and you have to have a decent score to be considered. But schools have certain cutoffs and minimums. Better to apply later with a good score than to apply first with a bad score. 

[07:09] Paragraph 1, Sentence 1

When the Extinction Rebellion protesters took to the streets, I was doubtful about how effective their tactics would be in creating meaningful change.

Jack says:

The author is talking about some protestors and something about making change.

[07:49] Paragraph 1, Sentence 2

Fortunately, I have been proven wrong.

Jack says:

The author is saying maybe then change happened.

[07:54] Paragraph 1, Sentence 3

Following their protests, the public now sees the climate crisis as a pressing issue.

Jack says:

Now we know the Extinction Rebellion is a protest against climate change and they were successful in getting the public to see that as an issue.

[08:13] Paragraph 1, Sentence 4

According to a recent survey, nearly 70% of people in the UK want urgent action on the climate emergency.

Jack says:

The author is talking about the UK and giving a percentage of people that think we need to do something.

[08:30] Paragraph 1, Sentence 5

Many political leaders are listening.

Jack says:

The public wants something to happen and now they’re talking about political leaders and they’re listening.

[08:30] Paragraph 1, Sentence 6

In one of her last acts as prime minister, Theresa May set the target of the UK achieving zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Jack says:

We’re given a date of what the UK is going to do for this climate emergency.

[09:10] Paragraph 1, Sentence 7

Although the date for zero carbon could be much sooner, it is an important step in the right direction.

Jack says:

The author says it could be sooner than 2050 but at least it’s something.

[09:41] Paragraph 2, Sentence 1

However, to achieve a more ecologically sustainable economy, changing minds will not be enough, we need to change behaviours.

Jack says:

The author is arguing that politicians are listening not enough and we need to change behaviors.

[09:59] Paragraph 2, Sentence 2

Small tweaks such as not using plastic straws or minimising food waste will make some difference.

Jack says:

It’s an example of changing behaviors.

[11:13] Paragraph 2, Sentence 3

But if we hope to make real progress, we need to make bigger alterations in what we do.

Jack says:

The author is saying we need to more. We need bigger behavior changes.

[11:25] Paragraph 2, Sentence 4

One behaviour change that will have a positive impact on the environment is a four-day working week.

Jack says:

The author is setting up why we need this four-day working week.

[11:49] Paragraph 3, Sentence 1

According to a cluster of recent studies, working less is good for the environment.

Jack says:

The author is showing proof that we need to work less.

[12:29] Paragraph 3, Sentence 2

One analysis found that if we spent 10% less time working, our carbon footprint would be reduced by 14.6%.

Jack says:

Less work, less carbon production.

[12:42] Paragraph 3, Sentence 3

If we cut the hours we work by 25% – or a day and a quarter each week – our carbon footprint would decline by 36.6%.

Jack says:

More numbers, bigger impact.

[12:55] Paragraph 3, Sentence 4

Another study found that if people in the US (who work notoriously long hours) worked similar hours to Europeans (who work much less), then they would consume about 20% less energy.

Jack says:

If you work less, that would be less energy, which also means less carbon footprint.

[13:20] Paragraph 3, Sentence 5

A more recent analysis of US states found a strong positive relationship between the number of hours people worked and their carbon emissions.

Jack says:

The more you work, the bigger your carbon emissions.

[13:38] Paragraph 3, Sentence 6

The more they worked, the more they polluted.

Jack says:

The author is rephrasing the same thing.

[13:43] Paragraph 3, Sentence 7

Working a four-day week, rather than, say, taking more holidays or working fewer hours each day, was a great way of reducing your environmental impact.

Jack says:

The author is restating it again.

[13:54] Paragraph 3, Sentence 8

The exact magnitude of that reduction is unclear, but the research seems to point in the same direction: lowering the number of hours we work would help to reduce our impact on the environment.

Jack says:

It’s a pretty straightforward paragraph where the author is basically the same thing over and over again.

[15:15] Paragraph 4, Sentence 1

By working less, we produce fewer goods and services that require precious resources to make.

Jack says:

The author is extrapolating that if we work less, we’re not going to make as much stuff. It’s nice to also think if you should be going this way and not just go with whatever the author is saying. Of course, when you answer questions, you must only stick to what the author says.

'Don't bring in your bias. You can't bring in your outside knowledge and opinions.'Click To Tweet

But when you’re reading, it’s really good to think about these ideas and whether or not you agree with them. This way, you become more engaged with the passage and you would understand it much better. You don’t have to jot so much down. Just know what’s going on.

[16:11] Paragraph 4, Sentence 2

We also consume less in the process of getting our job done.

Jack says:

This is a straightforward question.

[16:19] Paragraph 4, Sentence 3

Less work means less carbon-intensive commuting, less energy-sucking office space, and less time on power-hungry computer systems.

Jack says:

Another straightforward sentence here.

[16:30] Paragraph 4, Sentence 4

In addition, working less would help to break down the work-spend cycle.

Jack says:

If you don’t understand this sentence or what the author means by the work-spend cycle, let’s keep reading to find out.

[16:52] Paragraph 4, Sentence 5

Fewer hours at work mean we have more time to do other things such as travelling, preparing food or fixing broken household items.

Jack says:

We have more time to do other things.

[17:03] Paragraph 4, Sentence 6

We are also less likely to rely on environmentally costly timesavers such as high-speed travel or takeaway food delivered in plastic containers by someone riding a motorbike.

Jack says:

The author is trying to show why working less would be better with less reliance on food delivery.

[08:12] Paragraph 5, Sentence 1

But reducing the number of working hours would not guarantee a cut in environmental emissions.

Jack says:

The author is setting up this “work less and there are less emissions.” And now, he’s saying maybe it won’t work.

Why is the author going in this direction? It’s allowing students to understand that the author is more neutral than they may have appeared earlier. It seems the author is being more reasonable.

The author is either going to shift and completely go against what they said earlier. Or they’re just making a concession so that they seem more believable. Because you’re not going to believe someone who’s very extreme.

In this case, the author appears to be less extreme by suggesting the counter-argument that it’s not going to help.

[19:13] Paragraph 5, Sentence 2

It could actually be bad for the climate if people used their newfound free time to do things which were more environmentally harmful.

Jack says:

The author is giving a good backup here of why it may be bad.

[19:35] Paragraph 5, Sentence 3

Instead of working, they could travel long distances on holiday or hit the shops.

Jack says:

These are some more emission-based things.

[19:45] Paragraph 5, Sentence 4

The good news is that there is some evidence that when people are given time off, they tend to gravitate towards low environmental impact activities.

Jack says:

The author is going back to evidence and studies of how it will be good for the environment. Notice this shift that the author says most people don’t do this so it’s okay. The author is thinking about different points of views and addressing them so they seem more logical.

[20:46] Paragraph 5, Sentence 5

When France instituted a 35-hour working week in 2000, people developed less materialistic values and tended to use their free time with their families, resting or participating in sports or cultural events.

Jack says:

This is an example to help reinforce the author’s opinion. Ideas change the world. Free speech is one of the most important things of who we are. So you have to have this correspondence with other people. You have to share ideas in order to progress civilizations.

Students have to accept that ideas are not always true or correct. But accept them, listen, and pay attention. CARS will help you do that much better especially on topics you may not necessarily want to read on.

[22:18] The Big Picture

The author is making a pretty strong argument for a four-day workweek to save the environment. It’s not always the author’s point of view that matters. Your point of view matters too. Making that consideration is going to help you better understand the author.

Links:

Jack Westin

Meded Media

The Premed Years Podcast

The OldPreMeds Podcast, Specialty Stories

Link to article:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/21/help-the-planet-work-a-four-day-week

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