Global Trends in Consumption

Lesson Plans for Global Trends in Consumption


1. Global Trends in Consumption

Global and regional/continental progress towards poverty reduction, including the growth of the “new global middle class”

Measuring trends in resource consumption, including individual, national and global ecological footprints

Synthesis, evaluation and skills opportunities

How different patterns and trends are interrelated and involve spatial interactions between different places

Poverty Reduction and the New 'Global Middle Class'

This page provides a superb collection of interactive data sets and infographics on poverty reduction and the emerging new global middle class. It relies on the marvelous Our World in Data website for much of its data visualisation, which brings this dramatic change alive. Students develop their skills in data analysis and graphicacy. There is stunning class presentation with worksheet. The lesson moves on to look at the new middle class and in addition to describing the numbers, students finish the lesson by contemplating the challenges and vulnerability of this new middle class as well as consider the squeezed middle classes of the west.

Consumption of Resources

This page sets out resources that focus student's attention on rates of resource consumption. It introduces key vocabulary and concepts and uses the cartoons of Steve cuts to introduce the subject. Through a variety of different graphics, students look at the extent of resource depletion and then students can explore ecological footprint as a tool by measuring their own footprints. The page then goes on to look at the increasing rate of consumption as well focusing on the causes of this consumption through a 9-card diamond ranking exercise. There are multiple worksheets to support the students on this page.

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.


An overview of global patterns and trends in the availability and consumption of water, including embedded water in food and manufactured goods


This page provides a fun introduction to the concept of embedded water, which begins with a rank the water content starter activity. This is followed by a more serious account of the impacts of global trade in food on India by Vindana Shiva. Students use a worksheet to answer questions based on her view. Students then investigate the main message and content of the US Infrastructure infographic on water availability and consumption  before finishing the lesson with a thinking skills activity based on sketch and number note taking based on an informative and visually impressive short video on water availability and consumption.


An overview of global patterns and trends in the availability and consumption of land/food, including changing diets in middle-income countries

Land and Food Availability and Consumption

This page introduces global patterns of food and land availability as well as consumption through a number of well chosen graphics and maps. Students follow a number of skill based questions to identify patterns as well as explore strengths and weaknesses in the graphics. Through a series of thinking skills questions students develop their understanding and ability to synthesise. Students use the fantastic National Geographic site to produce their own infographic on changing middle income diets, before looking at the reasons for this change through a news item and question sheet and finally a supported discussion exercise.


An overview of global patterns and trends in the availability and consumption of energy, including the relative and changing importance of hydrocarbons, nuclear power, renewables, new sources of modern energy

Energy Availability and Consumption

This page uses a numbe rof different graphs, maps and infographics to help students to explore the trends in energy production and consumption. It begins with a starter activity on peak oil and then looks at the complexity of energy supplies in relation to optimistic and pessimistic views. A resource pack is provided for a group written activity and students apply the energy sector to aspects of Ellen MacArthur's circular economy. Students go on to make detailed notes on the efficiency and opportunities and challenges of different energies including low carbon solutions and technologies, developing the UK as an example.

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