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Links on this page: What is a Carbon Footprint? | Student Grid | Averages for Teacher Use | Student Sheet | Personal Emissions-Monthly Electricity Use | Decision Grid | Ecological Footprints of Nations

National Education Standards Met:

mathkeyZZ0203

Math discipline


Goal: Students understand their contributions to greenhouse gas emissions.

Objectives: Students will:

  • Build a personal emissions calculator
  • Gather information on their daily habits
  • Evaluate their daily habits
  • Determine their personal contribution to greenhouse emissions

 

Materials (for a class of 30):

  • 30 copies of What Is A Carbon Footprint?
  • 30 copies of Personal Emissions Calculator - Student Sheet
  • 30 copies of wheel pieces
  • 15 - 30 glue sticks
  • 30 scissors
  • 30 brads or paper fasteners
  • Optional: highlighters in a variety of colors
  • Each student should bring their completed Personal Emissions Student Grid (have some completed grids for students who are unable to get the necessary information)
  • Optional: 30 calculators
  • 30 copies of Ecological Footprints of Nations (1999 Data)

Time: 45 minutes - Prior to class, each student should have completed the Personal Emissions Student Grid

Standards Met: C5, G2, G5, S2, S4, S7, M1, M2, M3, M4, M14

Procedure:

  • Prior to class, each student should have completed the Personal Emissions Student Grid
  • Pass out What Is A Carbon Footprint to each student. Allow them time to read while you pass out other materials.
  • Review the information on What Is A Carbon Footprint.
  • Pass out Personal Emissions Calculator - Student Sheet, wheel pieces, glue sticks, scissors, and brads to each student.
  • Have them follow the directions on the student sheet to create their personal emissions calculator. (They are the same as below).
    • Cut out the two large circles and the two large rectangular pieces.
    • Cut out the two little rectangular windows on each of the large rectangular pieces.
    • Put glue on the backs of both circles and put them together to make the "wheel" of the wheel card, making sure that you align them so that the four labels that run along the outside of each circle (Waste Disposal, Home Heating, Electricity Use, and Transportation) line up with the corresponding labels on the other side. The Waste Disposal label on one side should line up with the Waste Disposal label on the other side, and so on.
    • Lay the rectangular piece entitled "What Can You Do?" upside-down on the table with the larger of the two cutouts closer to you. If you lift up the edge of the rectangular piece and see the words "Global-Warming-What Can You Do?" right side up, you've done it correctly.
    • Put the glued-together wheel on top of the rectangular piece, with the side that has all the questions (such as "On average, how much does your household spend on electricity each month?") facing up.
    • Lay the other rectangular piece entitled "What's Your Score?" on top of the wheel, with the smaller of the two cutouts closer to you.
    • Look for the "belly button" on the pasted-together wheel and the two large rectangular pieces. Push a paper fastener ("brad") through the "belly button" to hold all the pieces together.
    • Glue the large rectangular pieces in all four corners just enough to hold the rectangles together but allowing the wheel to turn freely.
    • If you wish, highlight each line inside the windows in a different color to make it easier to read. If you have access to a color printer, this step will be unnecessary.
  • Allow students time to build the wheel and calculate their personal emissions.
  • Ask each student to share their personal emission total and write their totals as a list on the board.
  • Pass out calculators or have students do addition manually to determine the class average emission total.
  • Compare this to the national average listed on the wheel they created and to averages of other countries using the Ecological Footprints of Nations (1999 Data)
  • Now have students use the "What Can I Do" side of the wheel to determine different ways they can help reduce emissions.

Homework:  Each student should write a commitment statement outlining how he or she will help reduce emissions.

Extension: Students can use Monthly Electricity Use - Common Household Appliances to identify exactly where they expend the most energy.

*Adapted from Environmental Protection Agency's "Climate Change, Wildlife and Wildlands"

Personal Emissions-What Is A Carbon Footprint

Your carbon footprint is a representation of the effect you, or your organization, have on the climate in terms of the total amount of greenhouse gases you produce (measured in units of carbon dioxide). Many of your actions generate carbon emissions, which contribute to accelerating global warming and climate change. By measuring your carbon footprint through such tools as the SafeClimate Carbon Calculator, you can get a better sense of what your individual impact is and which parts of your lifestyle deserve the greatest attention. Armed with such information you can more readily take effective action to shrink your carbon footprint, thereby minimizing your personal impact on the climate.
 
For example, when you drive a car, each gallon of gasoline you burn produces carbon in the form of carbon dioxide. Depending on the fuel efficiency of your vehicle and the miles traveled, a gasoline-powered car can easily generate its own weight in carbon dioxide each year. The average American is responsible for about 20 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year, a far greater per capita number than that of any other industrialized country. In fact, the US accounts for approximately 25% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions. You can reduce your carbon footprint by driving a more efficient car, or driving less. You can also plant trees or help preserve forests to offset your emissions, since trees are a sink for carbon.
The carbon footprint calculator estimates CO
2 emissions for energy use and transportation, and for organizations paper use, because these types of activities are responsible for a significant percentage of U.S. emissions, and are measurable based on readily available information. Your total carbon footprint would account for the energy used to produce all the products and services you consume, as well as all your other activities, and would be substantially larger. Home energy use and transportation represent approximately 40% of all U.S. emissions, so for an average person the emissions from these two activities would have to be multiplied by 2.5 to determine the person's total carbon footprint.

Guide to Carbon Dioxide and other Greenhouse Gases

Carbon dioxide (CO
2) is not the only man-made greenhouse gas - it is simply the one that has accumulated the most in the atmosphere and is presently having the greatest cumulative warming effect on our planet. Human sources of carbon dioxide primarily include the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas), and deforestation. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased 30% since pre-industrial times.

SafeClimate typically quotes greenhouse gas units in terms of carbon dioxide (1lb carbon dioxide = 0.2729 lbs of carbon), as well as converting other greenhouse gases into units of carbon dioxide based on their relative global warming potentials. This standardized approach simplifies things and makes for easier and more meaningful comparisons.

Other greenhouse gases, produced by human activities, include:

  • Methane (CH4), emitted by agriculture, ranching, landfills, and energy exploration. Human activities have increased the concentration of methane in the atmosphere by about 145%.
  • Nitrous Oxide (N2O), produced by various agricultural and industrial practices, including the use of nitrogen fertilizers, nylon production, and the burning of organic material and fossil fuels. Human activities have increased the level of nitrous oxide in the atmosphere by about 15% above natural levels.
  • Tropospheric ozone (O3), ozone in the lower part of the atmosphere, created by the reaction of sunlight with human-produced pollutants from vehicles and power plants. Tropospheric ozone has probably doubled in the Northern Hemisphere since pre-industrial times.
  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and other halocarbons such as perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) -- chemicals used in refrigeration, air conditioning, and other industrial processes. The production of chlorofluorocarbons is rapidly being eliminated because of their destructive effect on the ozone layer in the stratosphere. [NOTE: Ozone in the troposphere damages plant tissues, causes difficulty in breathing, and is the reason for "Code Red" days in the summer.  Stratospheric ozone protects the planet from ultraviolet radiation, and is known for the "hole in the ozone layer."]
    All of these gases, aside from the halocarbons, are also produced by natural causes - but it is their rapid build-up in the atmosphere over the past few centuries, due to human activities, that are now causing global warming.

The Ecological Footprint

There are many other ways to visualize our individual and overall human impact on the environment. Some environmental and government groups feature a broader concept than the carbon footprint -- the ecological footprint, which is an estimate of how much land and water is needed to produce all the resources an individual consumes, and dispose of all the waste and pollution he or she generates. Because of increasing population and levels of consumption and pollution, human beings are leaving bigger and bigger ecological footprints - at a rate that is increasingly harmful to the planet.

For example, Redefining Progress estimates that the typical American uses 25 acres to support his or her lifestyle, almost five times more than is sustainable. This non-profit group provides tools to calculate your own ecological footprint, and links to many other such calculators. More information on ecological footprints is provided by Sustainable USA and the British group, Best Foot Forward.

Taken from
www.climatestar.org

Personal Emissions Calculator - Student Grid

Name:

Directions: Complete the grid below. You will have to use your family's electric bill, natural gas bill, and an adult's input on car use. You should be able to guesstimate the waste disposal section. Remember that it is important to be honest when completing this grid.  You will be assessed on the accuracy of your information.  If you cannot find some of the information, your teacher can help you.

 

HOME HEATING

 

 

TRAVEL

 

WASTE DISPOSAL

 

ELECTRICITY USE

In the box below, write how much money your family spends on natural gas or fuel gas on average each month.

 

In the box below, write roughly how many miles your family puts on their car(s) on average per week.

In the box below, write how many items your family recycles (for example, plastics, aluminum, etc.).

In the box below, write how much money your family spends on electricity on average each month (check your electricity bill).

Personal Emissions Calculator - Student Grid

After you make your personal emissions calculator, fill in the pounds of CO2 your family emits each year (this will be the number in the small box of your personal emissions calculator).  Add the first four numbers to calculate your total emissions.

 

Home Heating

 

 

Electricity Use

 

 

Waste Disposal

 

 

Transportation

 

 

TOTAL EMISSIONS

 

 


*Adapted from Environmental Protection Agency's "Climate Change, Wildlife and Wildlands"

Personal Emissions Calculator - Student Sheet

  1. Cut out the two large circles & two large rectangular pieces.
     
  2. Cut out the two little rectangular windows on each of the large rectangular pieces.
     
  3. Put glue on the backs of both circles and put them together to make the "wheel" of the wheel card, making sure that you align them so that the four labels that run along the outside of each circle (Waste Disposal, Home Heating, Electricity Use, and Transportation) line up with the corresponding labels on the other side. The Waste Disposal label on one side should line up with the Waste Disposal label on the other side, and so on.
     
  4. Lay the rectangular piece entitled "What Can You Do?" upside-down on the table with the larger of the two cutouts closer to you. If you lift up the edge of the rectangular piece and see the words "Global-Warming-What Can You Do?" right side up, you've done it correctly.
     
  5. Put the glued-together wheel on top of the rectangular piece, with the side that has all the questions (such as "On average, how much does your household spend on electricity each month?") facing up.
     
  6. Lay the other rectangular piece entitled "What's Your Score?" on top of the wheel, with the smaller of the two cutouts closer to you.
     
  7. Look for the "belly button" on the pasted-together wheel and the two large rectangular pieces. Push a paper fastener ("brad") through the "belly button" to hold all the pieces together.
     
  8. Glue the large rectangular pieces in all four corners just enough to hold the rectangles together but allowing the wheel to turn freely.
     
  9. If you wish, highlight each line inside the windows in a different color to make it easier to read.
     
  10. Using the information from your grid, calculate your personal emissions and fill in the last line on your grid worksheet.
     
  11. Work with the class to figure your class emission average.
     
  12. Use the "What Can You Do" side of the card to determine how you can help reduce emissions.
     

*Adapted from Environmental Protection Agency's "Climate Change, Wildlife and Wildlands"

 

Wheel Card

Personal Emissions Calculator - Decision Grid

Name: 

DECISION GRID
Complete the decision grid below based on your life.

Rating Scale:
3 - Meets all criteria
2 - Meets many criteria
1 - Meets some criteria
0 - Meets few, if any criteria

 

Criteria

Rating

Equity

 

1. Positively impacts community

2.   Supports learning & skill development for all culturual groups

 

Environment

 

1. Fosters the integrity of the local environment

2. Enhances global atmosphere

 

 

Economics

 

1. Live within your means

2. Efficient use of time, materials, and resources

 

 

Social Equity

    Environment                                      Economics

 

Personal Emissions-
Monthly Electricity Use - Common Household Appliances (heating and lighting not included)

Appliance

Peak Power (W)

Approximate Monthly Use
kWh

My Home Use
(estimate)

Blender

350

1

~

Broiler

1450

8

~

Coffee maker

900

10

~

Clothes dryer
5 load per week

5000

83

~

Dish Washer
hot water not incl.

1200

120

~

Electric Blanket

180

12

~

Food freezer (15ft)3

340

90 (manual defrost)

~

Food freezer (15ft)3

450

150 (auto defrost)

~

Electric Food Disposal
"garbarator"

450

3

~

Electric Frying Pan

1200

15

~

Electric Hand Iron

1000

12

~

Microwave Oven

1400

16

~

Radio/CD/Stereo

110

9

~

Electric Range

180

70

~

Self-cleaning unit (on range)

4000

4

~

Refrigerator with freezer

330

60 (manual defrost)

~

Refrigerator with freezer

600

140 (auto defrost)

~

Toaster

1200

5

~

TV (bw solid state)

55

10

~

TV (color solid state)

200

36

~

Vacuum Cleaner

630

4

~

Washer (hot water not incl.)

500

8

~

Water bed (heater)

370

150

~

Water heater

4500

400

~

 

 

TOTAL (kWh)

~

Conversion Chart - kWh to CO2

TOTAL (CO2) (kg)

~

Ecological Footprints of Nations (1999 Data)

 

(in global acres per capita)

Country

Population (in millions)

Ecological Footprint
(per person)

Current Capacity (per person)

Ecological Deficit
(if negative)

WORLD

6,210.1

6.0

4.7

(-1.3)

Argentina

37.9

7.5

16.5

9.0

Australia

19.7

18.7

36.1

17.4

Austria

8.1

11.7

6.9

(-4.8)

Bangladesh

134.0

1.3

0.7

(-0.6)

Brazil

174.5

5.9

14.9

9.0

Canada

31.2

21.8

35.2

13.3

Chile

15.6

7.7

10.5

(-2.8)

China

1,284.2

3.8

2.6

(-1.2)

Denmark

5.4

16.2

8.0

(-8.2)

Egypt

66.2

3.7

1.9

(-1.8)

Finland

5.2

20.8

21.3

0.5

France

59.3

13.0

7.1

(-5.9)

Germany

82.2

11.6

4.3

(-7.3)

India

1,053.4

1.9

1.7

(-0.2)

Indonesia

217.3

2.8

4.5

1.7

Italy

57.7

9.5

2.9

(-6.6)

Japan

127.2

11.8

1.7

(-10.0)

Korea Republic

48.1

8.2

1.8

(-6.4)

Malaysia

24.4

7.8

8.4

0.6

Mexico

100.8

6.2

4.2

(-2.1)

Netherlands

16.1

11.9

2.0

(-9.9)

Norway

4.6

19.6

14.7

(-4.9)

Pakistan

144.8

1.6

1.0

(-0.6)

Philippines

78.3

2.9

1.4

(-1.5)

Poland

38.6

9.1

4.0

(-5.1)

Russia

144.2

11.1

12.0

0.9

South Africa

44.2

10.7

6.0

(-4.7)

Spain

39.5

11.5

4.4

(-7.1)

Sweden

8.9

16.6

18.1

1.5

Switzerland

7.3

10.2

4.5

(-5.7)

Thailand

61.7

3.8

3.4

(-0.4)

Turkey

67.2

4.9

3.0

(-1.8)

United Kingdom

60.2

13.2

4.1

(-9.1)

United States

288.3

24.0

13.0

(-10.9)

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