After examining projections for different forest regions in the United States, students use a carbon footprint calculator to analyze their personal contribution to carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere and design a solution for reducing their carbon footprint.
- Students will identify specific ways that the changing climate is affecting forest ecosystems.
- Students will discuss the concept of carbon footprint as a measure of one’s contribution to atmospheric carbon dioxide.
- Students will calculate their own carbon footprint.
- Students will design a solution to reduce their individual carbon emissions and thereby their carbon footprint.
- Copies of Forests and Climate student page, one per student (with Part 1 already completed by students in Activity 1: What Is Climate?)
- Copies of Regional Trends and Projections student page, one per student (or online access to it)
- Copies of Your Carbon Footprint student page, one per student
- Copies of Saving a Ton of CO2 student page, one per group
- Access to the Internet
- Getting Ready: 45 minutes
- Doing the Activity: two or more 50-minute periods
- Evaluate: Varies, depending on option selected
- If students haven’t already done so, have them complete Part 1 of the Forests and Climate student page (see Activity 1: What Is Climate?). They will complete Part 2 as part of this activity.
- Make copies of the other student pages.
- Decide whether students will choose their own carbon footprint calculator or whether you will assign the same calculator for the whole class to use (see suggested carbon footprint calculators in the Additional Resources).
- For the carbon footprint calculator, students will need access to the Internet. Depending on your situation, arrange time in the computer lab or library, or plan to have students explore the carbon footprint calculator at home.
- (Optional) As an alternative to students using their family’s utility bill information for the carbon footprint calculator, you may provide a sample utility bill for them to estimate usage. Many utility companies have sample bills online to illustrate how to read a bill (such as this sample bill from Pepco in Maryland). Check your local company’s website for a sample bill, or search online for one in your state or region.
- See Additional Resources to find other supports for teaching this activity.
PLT Conceptual Framework
- 3.9. In many societies, citizens have a voice in shaping resource and environmental management policies. Individuals and societies share in the responsibility of sustaining resources and behaving in an environmentally responsible manner.
- 4.2. The structure and scale of ecosystems are influenced by environmental factors such as soil type, climate, availability of water, and human activities.
- 5.10. Increased public knowledge of environmental issues and the need for sustainable resource management has resulted in lifestyle and community changes in many cultures.
See Standards Connections in the Appendices for a list of standards addressed in this activity.