Measuring Trends in Consumption and Ecological Footprint


This page introduces the patterns of global consumption of resources, focusing specifically on trade and energy through a 3D animation on trade and a number of graphs and maps supported by a student worksheet. Students then go on to explore the use of ecological footprint at the national scale through a case study on Switzerland. They look at both the advantages and shortfalls of ecological footprint before discussing the complexity of its use at the global scale as well as in the context of the broader definition of sustainable development.

Enquiry Question

How can consumption be measured and how does it vary from region to region?

Lesson Time: 1 Hour

Learning Objectives:

  • To describe and explain the global patterns of resource consumption through a variety of measurements
  • To describe consumption through the use of ecological footprint at varying scales.

Teacher Notes:

Starter_Global Trade Animation_ Spatial Interactions_Show students the visual animation of mapped global trade a couple of times and ask them to answer the questions on the spatial pattern.

1. Graph and Map Analysis_Changing Trends in Resource Consumption_Scale and Spatial Interactions_ Hand out the worksheet with the graphics and questions on energy consumption. You can ask the students to work independently or if you prefer you can use the slideshow and lead the students through the graphics step by step as they answer the questions on their worksheet.

2. Graph Analysis_Ecological Footprint_Synthesis_Place and Possibilities_Students should first read the two definitions of ecological footprint and biocapacity and answer the questions on the Switzerland data and use of ecological footprint as a planning tool for measuring sustainable development

There is a short text for students to read on Switzerland's use of ecological footprint to conclude

3. Graph and Text Analysis_Switzerland' Ecological Footprint_Place and Possibilities_Students can then either work through the questions and activities on Switzerland with the PDF or through the material embedded on the site page.

4. TOK Thinking_Students can then discuss as a class the challenges of measuring ecological footprint at the national scale in an increasingly globalized and interconnected world.

They should consider:

  • Transport
  • Trade
  • Governance

Starter Activity_Spatial Interactions_3D Map of Global Trade

Watch the following animation showing global trade. You may want to watch two times to identify the patterns and answer the following questions:

  1. Identify the regions most involved in global trade
  2. Identify the regions least involved with global trade
  3. Describe the pattern of trade in Europe and China

 To access the remainder of the activities and resources to teach this lesson click here

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