Is More Equal More Green?

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Exploring inequality and sustainability at GCSE and A Level

Is there a relationship between the level of inequality in a country and its global footprint?

The teaching ideas on this page are based around a PowerPoint presentation by Professor Danny Dorling (University of Sheffield) which draws on statistics about world inequality, levels of consumption and ecological footprints to present the case that inequality and sustainability are intrinsically linked.

The teaching ideas on this page will help you start to explore these concepts with your students. We have also provided a number of downloads to highlight the links between particular slides in this presentation with various GCSE and A-level specifications.

The presentation

Click the image to move on to the next slide or use the navigation controls below.

Teaching Ideas

1. Will the last one out please turn off the lights?

Slide: 1

This slide has an image of Earth at night, projected on to an equal population cartogram.

Teaching ideas: Get students to look at the map image and describe and explain the distribution of light at night. Discuss the relationship of this to the populations and wealth of certain countries. What environmental issues can be discussed using this image? What does it show about the use of energy?

2. A wealth of knowledge

Slides:  4-5

Slide 4 shows a map of the Earth resized according to each country’s gross domestic product, or wealth.

Teaching ideas:  What observations can students make about the distribution and location of wealth? What knowledge does this map re-enforce? What reasons can they suggest for the distribution of wealth? Describe the way this map is produced based on national statistics. Students could choose one country highlighted in red and one in green and research each country further, then use this research to explain the underlying reasons for how it appears on the map.

3. Unequal Britain

Slides: 6-13

These slides contain a simple but highly revealing demonstration of inequality. Using the fictional profiles of 26 individuals the story illustrates the income of various groups in society, from the richest to the very poorest, showing the differing amount of money received over a set period of time. Slide 13 explains that this reveals a ratio of inequality of 13∙8:1.

Teaching ideas: These slides give a good grounding in understanding inequality. The slide could be used as a basis for a role-play. Divide the class into groups reflecting those demonstrated in the presentation. Get students to imagine themselves as one of the individuals in the slide and then allow each group time to talk about various aspects of their quality of life. In their own words, get students to explain slide 13. What does this slide mean? Where are they on this scale? Next, you could get students to choose an LEDC and think about whether there would be a similar or worse scenaio there.

4. A meaty issue

Slide: 18

This slide shows a graphic global representation of the consumption of meat, demonstrating each nation's consumption in relation to its level of inequality.

Teaching ideas: Ask students to describe the graph - what does it show? Can they explain why one particular country may have low meat consumption and another a very high level? Although the former country has a low consumption of meat what implications might arise from the alternative food consumed instead?

5. Water world

Slide: 19

This slide shows water consumption statistics in graphic form in relation to nation inequality.

Teaching ideas: What patterns do students notice in this graph? Get students to think carefully about other geographical factors, human and physical, that might contribute to the pattern. In particular, why might Spain have a rather high consumption of water? Although there is great inequality in the UK why do they think its water consumption is relatively low?

6. Going to waste

Slide: 20

This slide shows waste production statistics in graphic form in relation to nation inequality.

Teaching ideas: Which countries are the big and small producers of waste? Students should give reasons for their observations. They could research what happens to waste once collected, where it goes (there are several places) and which ones are sustainable and environmentally sound. Are there any end sites that are throwing energy away? What is the current initiative with food waste in Britain? Is it a good idea?

7. Investigating footprints

Slides: 21 and 22

Slide 21 has statistics related to flights taken per nation on a scale of inequality. Slide 22 shows ecological footprint (how many planets each nation would need to continue living like they currently do) linked to inequality.

Teaching ideas: Students can use slide 21 to gauge the likely carbon-footprint of each nation. Why are Norway, Ireland and New Zealand off the scale? Use slide 21 and 22 to determine if the nations with the largest carbon footprint have the greatest ecological footprint? If so, why is this? Students could also evaluate and estimate the number of planets that we need to exist when you consider all nations together. Get students to choose two countries with a large and small ecological footprint, researching them and then comparing and contrasting their attributes to assess their place on this scale.

8. Writing an article

Slides: 17-29

These slides show various graphic global representations of meat, water, waste, flight consumption and ecological footprint demonstrating each nation's consumption and production in relation to its level of inequality.

Teaching ideas:  Get students to analyse this data and use it to write a newspaper article that demonstrates some of the main relationships between consumption and production, and development and globalization. They should illustrate the links to environmental costs, not just monetary ones, using particular countries to highlight their points. Slides 28-29 are an excellent conclusion to prompt a class discussion, and encourage comments and questions from the students to research further?

9. Taking another point of view

Slides: 24-29

These slides show various graphic global representations of ecological footprints, resizing each nation in relation to its ecological footprint. The slides show that most of the damage is being caused by the rich world and more of that (per capita) by the most unequal countries of the rich world.

Teaching ideas: Students use the data in this Excel spreadsheet to calculate and produce their own graphic to demonstrate ecological footprints globally. Get them to focus on a country which has a very different footprint to their own and write a letter to a person of the same age as them in that country. They should explain clearly what they have found and suggest what changes the country could think about making. This letter could be given to another member of the class who is then asked to answer that letter, imagining themselves to be from that country, investigating what constraints and limitations they may come across as a citizen of that country. The students could then write a piece on what they have learned, commenting on how they felt this exercise made them consider another country's perspective on issues of environment and sustainability.

Links to GCSE and A Level Specifications

These downloads have been created to identify links in this presentation with topics in the various GCSE and A Level specifications.

AQA (100k)

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EdExcel (98k)

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OCR (103k)

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WJEC (102k)

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Jaqueline Haupt Guest

Is there a published paper related to this presentation?
Thank you very much.

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