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Ecological Footprint Activity

1. Go to this website: h p://
2. Under Footprint Basics, read Introduction and Overview. Then define ecological
footprint in your own words. What does it actually measure?
Your impact on the earths health and longevity. It is measured on how much land it would take
to sustain their use of natural resources

3. Under Footprint Basics, go to Personal Footprint and take the ecological footprint
quiz for yourself. Enter as a new user, create your avatar and always enter the more
detailed information.

4. Record your ecological footprint.

a. How many planet Earths would be required if everyone lived like

you? __4.8_____

b. Break down your ecological footprint:

__28__% Food __14__% Shelter __5__% Mobility __11__% Goods

__41__% Services

c. How many global acres of the Earths productive area do you

require? ___21.3____

d. Put the following in order from most land used to least land used:
energy land, crop land, grazing land, forest land, built up land, fishing

El, fl, cl, gl, bl, fg

e. How many tons of carbon dioxide do you generate? ___20.6_____

The Earth can absorb some of our carbon dioxide (do you know how?), but
not at the rate we are producing it now. So, the fewer tons you personally
produce, the better. We will study this more later.

5. Click on edit your footprint. Only make changes that you can actually make in your
life. For example, do not change your house since your parents/guardians would not
approve it. Instead, change your recycling habits or food intake.
a. How low can you get your footprint to be? Record it here: ___4.3______

b. List five things that you can do to make your footprint lower.

Becoming vegetarian. Recycling more. Buying more local produce

6. Click on explore scenarios. Click on the checkboxes one at a time.

a. How do the listed activities affect your ecological footprint in terms of the number of
planet Earths needed?

.3 less earth

b. If every American did only one of these activities, which would be the most effective
in reducing our ecological footprint?


c. Could you commit to doing one or more of these activities? If so, which one(s)? If
not, why?

Becoming a vegetarian and recycling more

Humans & the Land

Think about the fairness of world land use. The U.S. has an ecological footprint of 23.7
acres per person while the 35 low-income countries average 2.0 acres per person.

a. Why do you think the average ecological footprint is so much higher in the U.S.
than developing countries?

b. Do you think there should be laws governing how large a countrys or individuals
ecological footprint? Explain.
3. Sustainability is an important concept in Environmental Science. It means that
resources are not being used up faster than they can be replenished, and that wastes
are not being produced faster than they can be processed by the earth.

a. Are Americans living a sustainable lifestyle?

b. Are YOU living a sustainable lifestyle?

c. How will this affect future Americans? How will this affect the world? Explain.

4. According to the Footprint Network, Earth Overshoot Day marks an unfortunate

milestone: the day in which we exhaust our ecological budget for the year. Once we
pass this day [each year], humanity will have demanded all the ecological services
from filtering CO2 to producing the raw materials for food that nature can provide this
year. From that point until the end of the year, we meet our ecological demand by
liquidating resource stocks and accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The
Earth first experienced overshoot on December 19, 1987. In 2007, overshoot day
occurred on October 6, 2007.

Use the following formula to calculate overshoot day:

[ world biocapacity / ecological footprint ] x 365 = Ecological Debt Day

(If the Ecological Debt Day is calculated to be Day 10, then that is January 10th . For
October 6, 2007, the 279th day of the year, the Ecological Debt Day was Day 279.)

a. When is overshoot day for the world? (world biocapacity=4.4 global acres/person;
ecological footprint =5.5)

b. When is overshoot day for the U.S.? (U.S. biocapacity= 11.7 global acres/person; US
footprint =23.7)
d. How does overshooting our ecological resources negatively affect the planet in the
present day? How do you think it will affect our planet in future generations?