Ecological footprints [AI in the classroom]

This is a special version of 3.1.3 Ecological footprints, an exisiting Unit 3 lesson on geographyalltheway.com. This version highlights (in a rather exaggerated manner) the opportunities for classroom generative artifical inteligence use.

Content

  • Geographic inquiry and concept(s)
    • How global development processes affect resource availability and consumption
  • Case study or detailed examples
    • The syllabus requires neither
  • Geographic knowledge and understanding
    • Measuring trends in resource consumption, including individual, national and global ecological footprints
  • Approaches to learning
    • Thinking skills
      • Critical use of AI tools.
    • Research skills
      • Using AI tools to summarise.
  • Aims of the lesson
    • Be able to explain how resource consumption can be measured
    • Be able to evaluate ecological footprints as a measure of resource consumption
    • Be able to describe trends in individual, national and global ecological footprints

Base knowledge and understanding

Video clip

[4 June 2010]

Visualization

The “great acceleration” - Figures illustrate trends and how the size and scale of events have changed - Living Planet Report 2016
The “great acceleration” - Figures illustrate trends and how the size and scale of events have changed - Living Planet Report 2016 [Source]

Key terms

  • Carbon footprint
    • A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane) that are generated by our actions.
  • Ecological footprint
    • The theoretical measurement of the amount of land and water a population requires to produce the resources it consumes and to absorb its waste under prevailing technology.
  • Water footprint
    • The water footprint of an individual, community or business is defined as the total volume of fresh water used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual or community or produced by the business.
Context

Context

Write

Defining 'ecological footprint'

The theoretical measurement of the amount of land and water a population requires to produce the resources it consumes and to absorb its waste under prevailing technology.

IB DP 2009 Geography syllabus
  1. Define ecological footprint, trying to go beyond that offered by the IB.
Trying something other than Google → Perplexity
  • Rather than using Google, try using perplexity.ai.
  • perplexity.ai describes itself as an "answer engine".
  • The copilot function offers a guided process to exploring an answer.
[4 January 2024]
Write

Switzerland's ecological footprint

  1. Summarise the content of this article, ensuring that you have at least three data points focused on Switzerland's ecological footprint.
Using GenAI to summarise a web article
  • Use the Perplexity - AI Companion Chrome Extension, ensuring you have changed the 'target' to 'This Page'.
  • Not all AI/LLM chatbots can access web content.
    • ChatGPT 3.5 can not → "I'm sorry, but I can't directly access external content such as the webpage you've provided."
    • ChatGPT 4 can.
perplexity.ai Extension
Write

What is a carbon footprint?

[20 June 2017]
  1. Watch the video and create a five-bullet point summary. Add the summary to your notes.
  2. In your notes, highlight the two most essential summary points.
  3. Outline the difference between 'carbon footprint' and 'ecological footprint'?
Using an extension to help you work with a transcript of a YouTube video
  • There are a variety of tools that offer this ability.
  • I currently prefer a Chrome extension called YouTube Summary with ChatGPT & Claude.
  • The extension added a box to YouTube that gives access to a time-stamped transcript and a single button to press to take that transcript and put it into ChatGPT.
  • By default, the extension will request a 5-bullet summary from ChatGPT, but more can be done depending on the student's prompting skills.
[4 May 2023]
Write

Calculating your ecological footprint

  1. Calculate your ecological footprint using both of the following calculators.
  1. What data about you are they using to measure your resource consumption?
  2. What are the units used for the final value?
  3. Which of the two calculators do you feel gave the most accurate value? Why?
Sometimes, no AI is just fine, too!
  • Knowing when not to use AI is also a skill that needs discussing.
Write

Evaluating ecological footprints as a measure of resource consumption

PDF

Wiedmann, Thomas, and John Barrett. 2010. "A Review of the Ecological Footprint Indicator—Perceptions and MethodsSustainability 2, no. 6: 1645-1693. https://doi.org/10.3390/su2061645

  1. Using the PDF as the source, outline one advantage and two disadvantages of ecological footprints as a measure of resource consumption.
Chat with a PDF document
  • Again, many tools offer this service; however, ChatPDF works well and has an intuitive interface.
  • Once the PDF has been added to the service, the skill development is in the ability to ask questions about the PDF file's content.
  • The PDF can be uploaded or added via URL.
AI

AI tool → ChatPDF

  • You can upload a PDF file using this web service and then ask questions about its contents.
Write
Switzerland
  1. Using annotated screenshots, describe the trends in the ecological footprints (and relationship to biocapacity) for the following nations:
    • USA
    • UK
    • China
    • Iceland
    • Morocco
    • Niger
    • An additional country that you find interesting... in terms of their ecological footprint vs. biocapacity relationship.
Link

Global Footprint Network - Ecological Wealth of Nations

Using ChatGPT to analyse a visual stimulus
  • perplexity.ai pro can do this.
    • Screenshot a visual stimulus and then prompt for an answer.
  • ChatGPT 3.5 can not do this. You need access to ChatGPT 4.
Write

Being assessed upon the content

State and explain one negative and one positive aspect of ecological footprints as a measure of resource consumption [3 + 3]

"Growing ecological footprints will ultimately lead to national resource insecurity." To what extent do you agree with this statement? [10]

  1. Plan a response to either of these exam-style questions.
The process of prompting

State and explain one negative and one positive aspect of ecological footprints as a measure of resource consumption [3 + 3]


  1. Using ChatGPT 3.5.
  2. Use a prompting framework such as APE - Action, Purpose, Expectation.
    • Action: Define the job or activity to be done.
    • Purpose: Discuss the intention or goal.
    • Expectation: State the desired outcome.
  3. Prompt A: State and explain one negative and one positive aspect of ecological footprints as a measure of resource consumption
  4. Prompt B: Generate a response to this IB DP Geography exam question: State and explain one negative and one positive aspect of ecological footprints as a measure of resource consumption. The response needs to be no less than 120 words. The negative aspect should focus on the oversimplification of ecological footprint as a measure, and the positive aspect should focus on raising awareness.

"Growing ecological footprints will ultimately lead to national resource insecurity." To what extent do you agree with this statement? [10]


  1. Using ChatGPT 3.5.
  2. Use a prompting framework such as APE - Action, Purpose, Expectation.
    • Action: Define the job or activity to be done.
    • Purpose: Discuss the intention or goal.
    • Expectation: State the desired outcome.
  3. Prompt A: "Growing ecological footprints will ultimately lead to national resource insecurity." To what extent do you agree with this statement?
  4. Prompt B: Write a 1500-word essay discussing how much I agree with the statement, “Growing ecological footprints will ultimately lead to national resource insecurity.”
  5. Prompt C: Write a 1500-word essay that considers the merits or otherwise of the following statement: “Growing ecological footprints will ultimately lead to national resource insecurity.”
  6. Prompt D: You are a 17-year-old student studying IB DP geography. Write a 1500-word essay considering the merits or otherwise of the following statement: “Growing ecological footprints will ultimately lead to national resource insecurity.” The essay will have the following structure. The first paragraph will be an introduction defining ecological footprint and national resource insecurity and outlining their relationship. The second paragraph will discuss the growing global middle class and link this with growing ecological footprints, especially in diet and transportation. The third paragraph will focus on the differences in the ecological footprint of different social groups within a country and link this with different groups' impact on national resources. The fourth paragraph will discuss other threats to national resource security, such as climate change, ageing populations, and geopolitical issues. The fifth paragraph will be a conclusion that summarises the essay, linking back to the fact that in some countries, a growing ecological footprint will impact resource security.
  7. Prompt E would include specifics from the notes generated in the lesson by the students.
Write

Reviewing the content of this lesson using active recall

  1. Produce ten active recall-style flashcards based on the content of today's lesson.
Generating flashcards
  • Option 1 → Luna
  • Option 2 →Copy and paste the notes into ChatGPT and then prompt →
    • PROMPT A: These notes were taken by a 17-year-old IB DP Geography student during an IB DP Geography lesson. Use the notes to generate ten active-recall questions and answers to help the student revise. Create a CSV file of the questions and answers that can be downloaded and imported into Anki.
  • I can only get it to work in ChatGPT 4 with the downloadable file.
[4 April 2018]
Write

Can we trust carbon footprint calculations?

  1. Listen to this podcast while thinking about 'how do we know'. Collect a small number of specific examples/data points that you could use to show your depth of understanding.
Working with audio is trickier
  • Students will need to transcribe the audio and convert it into text form to work with the content of a podcast using GenAI tools.
  • Some podcasts offer transcripts, but many do not.
  • Online services that offer audio-to-text services tend to charge.
  • I use cockatoo.com when I need to transcribe audio. They offer a limited free trial.
  • [I have not tested this method] You can use Microsoft Word to transcribe recordings.
Concepts

Concepts

The scale of ecological footprints varies between individuals within a country, nations, and regions. The process of living creates an ecological footprint. Future possibilities regarding the increase or decrease of a nation’s ecological footprint will depend upon the nation's governance.

Review

Review

  • Define ecological footprint. [2]
  • Explain two positive aspects of ecological footprints as a measure of resource consumption. [4]
  • Describe what is meant by “embedded water”. [2]
  • Explain one way in which ecological footprint measures an individual’s resource consumption. [2]
  • Describe what is meant by an individual’s ecological footprint. [2]